Winding its way through idyllic bush and wetland, the 15 kilometre Fernleigh Track is perfect for families to spend a sunny day enjoying fresh air on a bike, scooter or walking your four-legged friends.
A former rail line, the Fernleigh Track spans from Adamstown to Belmont and is a popular walking and cycling path.
However, it has multiple entry and exit points, which means you can tackle as little or as much as you like – from a quick stroll to a half-day adventure. The track is well maintained, with gentle slopes and wide pathways, so it’s ideal for all fitness levels.
We began our adventure at Adamstown, on foot (me) and scooter (my boys). During our walk, we passed families, chatting mums with prams as well as serious runners and cyclists. Despite its popularity, it is easy to forget that you are in the middle of suburban Newcastle, as you become quickly absorbed in the sounds of birds and frogs and dappled light from the surrounding bushland.
Flat and with very little slope, the Fernleight Track provides a paved and well-maintained trail for beginner and confident riders – it’s great for those with children at different levels of ability. You can maintain pace with a pram or younger rider, and don’t have to panic about older children getting momentarily out of sight or hitting difficult terrain.
There are public toilet facilities located on the track itself only at Redhead, but its suburban location means that you aren’t usually too far from facilities. If you’ve got little ones or those that will need a pit stop along the way, it is best to plan your journey – the Lake Macquarie City Council and City of Newcastle websites have a great map which highlights all of the facilities including toilets and cafes located within 600 metres of the track.
The trail is also dotted with points of interest to keep even the most reluctant travellers interested, including natural and historical information, shady benches and even outdoor fitness equipment.
One highlight for us was watching the waterbirds and spotting a friendly lizard at the former site of the Burwood Colliery dam.
Until 1991 the track was the Belmont rail line, which was used to transport coal and passengers between the suburbs.
This means that there are lots of industrial heritage features to spot along the way, including sleepers, bridges, tunnels, signal boxes and stations.
Prominent features are signposted with interesting information and heritage photographs, so you can really get a feel of what the area was like when the rail line was active from 1880.
Hot tip: Jump on the track at Westwood Avenue at Adamstown and check out the 181-metre long Fernleigh Tunnel. This curved brick tunnel connects the cities of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and is an excellent spot for some iconic Newcastle Insta-worthy snaps.
Good to know: The Fernleigh Track is a shared track that is popular with cyclists. Everyone is friendly and considerate, however, it’s important to remind your children about track etiquette to ensure everyone stays safe and avoid collisions.
Every year in October, the Fernleigh 15 is held. This is one opportunity for runners and walkers to complete the entire length of the Fernleigh Track without traffic or bicycles. People can run the 15 kilometres or do a 5 runner relay.
Distance: 15.9 km – there are multiple entry and exit points, so you can plan your points of interest and length of your trail very easily.
Getting there: The Fernleigh Track passes through Adamstown, Kahibah, Whitebridge, Redhead, Jewells and Belmont, so it’s easy to find an entry point that suits you.
Access points with carparks include:
• Adamstown Train Station – Park Avenue, Adamstown
• Glenrock Conservation Area Carpark – Burwood Road, Kahibah
• Station Street, Whitebridge
• Cowlishaw Street, Redhead
• Railway Crescent, Jewells
• Railway Parade
Additional points accessible by car (without car parking) can be found on the Lake Macquarie City website here.
Bring: Water (there are water fountains at various points along the track for refills), sunscreen, snacks, binoculars (the Fernleigh Track is home to possums, bandicoots, echidnas and lots of native birdlife) and your favourite mode of transport.
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