Turning Australia’s old rails into new trails

In the Australian countryside, it is not unusual to stumble across the relics of a vast abandoned rail network that once connected the nation before cars and trucks replaced trains as the preferred mode of transport.

These remnants of a forgotten past can range from rail tracks hidden in farm paddocks to majestic stations overlooking silent platforms that have not been used in decades.

This ghost rail network spans thousands of kilometres – a reminder of the population’s shift over the past century from rural townships to bustling coastal cities.

But there has been a growing push in recent years to find new uses for the old lines, particularly as so-called “rail trails”, where the routes are converted into bike tracks, hiking trails and horse-riding paths. Meanwhile, old stations have been given new uses, including as cafes or museums.

The aim is to preserve the heritage while attracting tourists and visitors to remote areas that are often otherwise inaccessible.

The federal and Queensland state governments last year approved funding to complete the country’s largest trail, a 161km track near Brisbane. The trail is due to be completed by June along a line that was built in the 1880’s and closed almost 30 years ago.

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