North East Rail Trail

Approximate Distance: 100km
Local Government Area: Launceston and Dorset Council
Legislative Council Division: Wellington
State/Federal Government Electorate: Apsley, Launceston and Windemere

Proposed Style of Facility

Off-road rail trail, providing opportunities for walking, cycling and horse riding.  

What are the Major Trip Generators and Attractors?

The rail corridor passes through towns of: Lilydale, Wyena, Scottsdale, Tonganah, Legerwood, as well as scenic state forests.

Social Ride on November 30th

The section that we first rode a couple of years back has been improved. Meet at the Scottsdale Railway Station in the morning (time TBA) and hear the plans for the next section. Scottsdale Rotary will put on a lunchtime BBQ.

To get the latest on the event, go to the Tamar Bicycle Users Groups rides page or email Malcolm Cowan on [email protected].



The success of the Otago Trail on New Zealand's south island and the wine country rail trails of Victoria speak for themselves. These areas have hundreds of kilometres of rail trails and supportive businesses that attract large numbers of riders. Cycle tourism has made a significant contribution to these local economies. 

The North East Rail Trail is an important alternative to the current narrow roads which carry high speed traffic and only a few hardy long distance riders.

For updates, follow the organisers on Facebook. Their cover page (below) shows one of many beautiful, tall cuttings that you can already ride through on the first 16km that's been opened. While you are waiting for the rest, you can get busy riding brand new mountain bike trails. Last year Dorset and Break O'Day Councils announced that World Trail were successful with their submission for the design and construction of the 80kms of mountain bike trails in Derby and the Blue Tier. Trails 1 - 6 are proposed for Stage 1 of this project with the trails expected to be completed in time for the Blue Dragon MTB Challenge in January 2015. 

RailTrails Australia reference.


The trail concept encompasses two main stages:

Stage 1: 25 km Scottsdale to Legerwood

Update 30 August 2014:

Scottsdale Rotary Club has been working very hard over several years on this project to repurpose the old railway line from Tonganah (9kms from Scottsdale) to Legerwood. The Rotary Club would like to spread the word about the rail trail and also for as many people as possible to put 'Like’ their facebook page ‘North East Rail Trail’. The text that follows is from their latest FB status update.

Some of you may be aware that five landowners who border the rail trail at the Legerwood end have opposed the development. Rather than have a division in our great community the Rotary Club have reached a compromise and the rail trail will now finish at the top of the Billy Cock (2kms from Legerwood). In conjunction with the landowners, Dorset Council and the Rotary Club are trying to make a safe alternative route around the SnakeTrack. This is work in progress.

Our latest big news is that Rotary have been offered the railway line between Scottsdale to Tonganah, inclusive of the iconic Scottsdale Railway Station, all surrounding grounds and the buildings. This is such a wonderful opportunity for the Club and more importantly our North East community. Rotary and the Rail Trail committee are trying to get as much support as possible to grab this opportunity for our community and restore some old nostalgic history and give all those enthusiastic walkers/joggers, bike riders and others a tour back down memory lane with fantastic views and hospitality on the way. This may just be what turns Scottsdale around, and brings people to this great place to stay a day or so and take in all it has to offer.

Update 3 July 2014:

The Dorset Council has lodged a Development Application for conversion of the railway corridor between Scottsdale and Tonganah to a Rail Trail for when TasRail remove the rail infrastructure within the next couple of months. The Rotary Club of Scottsdale will be constructing the trail supported by the Dorset Council. Followers are encouraged to support this application by providing a letter of support to Dorset Council.

Update 1 June 2014:

From Dorset Rail Trail Facebook page - The Rotary Club of Scottsdale continues to work with Dorset Council and TasRail to progress conversion of the rail corridor from Tonganah to Scottsdale to a rail trail. This of course will require removal of the track infrastructure and formation of a smooth riding surface. The project will be a partnership in which TasRail will removing the rails, Rotary will construct the track and Dorset Council will consult with neighbours and complete the Development Application.

November 2013:

The middle 16 km of Stage 1 has been completed and riders can enjoy beautiful track through state forest from Tonganah to Billycock. The track goes through spectacular ferntree-lined rail cuttings and has views out over the northeast. This section needs the 7km back to Scottsdale developed to allow easier access to the trail and a better connection to cafes, accommodation and services in town.

About 200 people turned out for the first official ride on the trail. Here's our half way stop at Legerwood before we headed back along the trail to Tonganah. 



Stage 2: 75km Launceston to Scottsdale

This section has been investigated in some detail by Northern Tasmania Development. Derek Le Marchant and his team have done a great job of working out what needs to be done to deliver a world-class rail trail. 

Here's what the Launceston paper had to say about it:

NORTH-EAST businesses have called on all political parties to commit to the construction of the North East Rail Trail in a bid to create at least 100 jobs, attract thousands of tourists and inject much-needed funds into the region.

It is hoped that the proposed trail, involving the re-development of 86 kilometres of disused rail corridor from Launceston to Scottsdale, would revitalise the townships of Karoola, Lalla, Lilydale, Tunnel, Lebrina, Nabowla and Legerwood. 

A Northern Tasmania Development-commissioned economic benefit assessment of the trail shows that more than 23,000 people a year would use it each year.

Leaning Church Vineyard owner Sarah Hirst said that similar trails, such as the Otago Central Rail Trail in New Zealand and the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail in Victoria, attracted up to 45,000 people a year and had created hundreds of jobs.

What can you expect? 'spectacular natural wilderness, sampling our local produce, meeting our crafty characters, staying in our B&Bs, exploring our internationally acclaimed attractions'

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  • Su Chan
    commented 2014-10-20 13:35:50 +1100
    Here’s a pic of what can be done (America). How awesome is this?