Region: South-West Australia | Length: 54.5km | Days: 2-3 | Surface: Gravel, Sand
The Denmark- Nornalup Rail trail is a shared former railway trail, and now forms part of WA’s Munda Biddi cycling trail. Running between the former sleepy timber towns of Denmark and Nornalup, the railway was first constructed in 1884 by local timber moguls, the Millar brothers. Operations on the railway closed in 1954, and the 1990s saw the railway converted into a heritage trail for recreational use.
Only traces remain of the former railway, including one or two sidings and some impressive cut-aways that were built slowly and painstakingly by hand, with the use of minimal tools.
For horse riders, it’s the perfect route for either an overnight horse trek, or as a day-long section ride. Much of the track (especially the eastern end) is flat, soft and sandy, and therefore a fast, easy ride. The trail passes through farmland, tea tree scrub and jarrah forest and is adorned with spectacular wildflowers in the spring.
- The trail features four original timber rail bridges, which can be fantastic exposure and confidence building for young horses. The local council spent a significant amount of money restoring and repairing these bridges in 2018. While they are safe and sturdy, it is recommended that riders dismount when crossing. Sandstone mounting blocks are provided at either end of each bridge.
- Historical photos displaying the railway being built are on display at the former post office at the western trailhead.
- The eastern end of the trail shadows the Wilson inlet, travelling through scenic coastal heathland. There are a couple of lovely sandy beaches here (Rudyard Beach, Crusoe Beach), where it is possible to take your horse for a quick dip.
The Denmark- Nornalup Rail Trail is divided into three sections:
• Denmark River mouth to Hay River (about 12km)
• Denmark River mouth to Parker Road (33km)
• Peaceful Bay Road to Station Road (about 14km)
The second section is perhaps the most appropriate for horse-riders, but as you are highly likely to be sharing the trail with cyclists, ensure that your horse is ‘cyclist ready’.
The 14km section between Parker Rd and Bow Bridge is not expected to be open for a few years, once bridges over the Kent and Bow Rivers have been re-built. While many cyclists choose to traverse this section via the South Coast Highway, this is a dangerously busy road and therefore not recommended for horse riders.
- The western trailhead is located in Denmark, Western Australia and is approximately five hours drive south of Perth. The trail can be accessed via the South Coast Hwy on the western side of the Hay River, just past Hanwich Rd. Float parking is available here. The Denmark Riding/ Pony Club also lies on the trail, and it may be possible to arrange for floats to be parked here. There are no parking areas or facilities at Parker Road (western end of the trail).
- The Denmark Cooperative Store stocks hay and carries an array of horse feed supplies.
- The trail traverses several significant creeks and rivers, such as Little River, Kent River and Kordabup River. These will generally have water in them, however, steep embankments mean that it is near impossible for horses to access water from these. It is therefore recommended that riders carry a portable bucket when planning a long/ overnight trek along the trail.
- The Shire has specifically stated that camping on the trail is not allowed. There are several rural commercial accomodation options nearby that may accomodate horses and riders. Perhaps the most suitable rest/ grazing area along the Denmark- Nornalup Rail Trail would be the grassy triangle at the Western end of the Little Rover Crossing.
- Horse-riders are asked to keep to the southern edge of the trail, to ensure that the northern edge of the track remains firm for cyclists.
Further information can be obtained from the links below
A brochure including a map is available from Denmark Tourism Incorporated ph 08 9848 2055
1. Denmark Tourist Bureau www.denmarkwa.asn.au/walking.htm
2. Greenskills Inc (Project Managers) www.greenskills.org.au/
3. Rainbow Coast visitors guide www.rainbowcoast.com.au/areas/denmark/wilsoninlet.htm