It follows the path of the now defunct Belmont branch line, which carried both passenger and coal traffic in its day. The path opened as far as Whitebridge in 2003, and was completed to Belmont in 2011. The track takes its name from the Fernleigh tunnel under the Pacific Highway, one of the tracks most prominent features.
There is food and water at both ends of the trail, together with to water points along the trail. There are public toilets just off the track at Redhead. On a hot day carrying two water bottles is a good idea, you can refill them on the trip.
Getting to the start of the track
|The starting point (with water)|
From Adamstown station just follow the wide footway south between the road and the rail line. At the first roundabout you will see the start of the trail, about 100m from the station.
From Broadmeadow follow the road by the side of the railway south under the road bridge, then turn second right onto Coolah Rd, and then follow the signs at the next block on Teralba Rd to the start of the trail. It is hard to get lost.
Adamstown to Pacific Highway Tunnel
The first section of the trail is a gradual incline. Not enough to pose any major challenge at the start, but just enough to realise that the final section of the return journey is going to be a cruise back down to the end. The track stays close to civilisation, but the track is on a different level to Park Avenue that runs parallel to it, so it isn't like you are riding by the side of a road.
|Northern entrance to the tunnel|
The road is good, asphalt all the way, and 2.5 metres wide.
The Pacific Highway tunnel is the top bill of this railtrail. Fully restored, lit and made safe. It is wide, and most of it is the original brick, with only some concrete and wire reinforcement in place.
Pacific Highway Tunnel to Redhead
The track gets shadier, and heads downhill through eucalypt forest to the Redhill turn.
Some of the original rail sections remain in place, and some of the platform structures have been restored.
Redhead to Belmont
Between Redhead and Belmont there is a long boardwalk section, made from concrete planks. These give quite a bumpy rid. Again, the ride is removed from civilisation until you get to Belmont, with no shops or major centres adjacent to the track, and only a few road crossings.
Belmont station has been restored, with a station platform, picnic tables and a park. Curiously, just as you are reaching the end of the cycleway, there is a sign excluding bikes from the last 100m of so of the path. Supposedly you are either expected to go onto the road for the last section of the trail, or walk your bike. The reasoning here is lost on me.
Getting to Belmont shopping, or to the lake or beach isn't straightforward either, unless you are familiar with the area. There are no directional signs at the Belmont end like there are at the Adamstown end, and the no bicycle signs on the footpaths don't encourage you to push on further.
The easiest route to take to the beach and shopping is to turn right onto Ernest Street until you get to Macquarie. Macquarie is a wide pedestrian mall into the centre of town, and continues down to the lakeside precinct. It is a quiet, easy ride.
The first half of the trip has some gradient, a slowish climb mainly up to the tunnel, than a fairly rapid 80m descent. The second half of the trip is just flat.