The Collie Darkan Rail Trail is a 46.5 km multi purpose trail that passes through farmland, jarrah and wandoo country side.

It begins 18km east of Collie and finishes at the old Darkan Railway Station.

To get the full ride gpx or the ride route summary, select the "Route Sheets" tab above, and click on the download buttons for each.

The 2 minute video of my May 2016 ride is here:

History: The government narrow gauge railway line opened in 1907 from Collie to Narrogin. The line took building materials, machinery, fertiliser etc to the farms along the way, carried timber and farm produce out, and also carried passengers. Initially, steam locos were used, but in the 1960's they were replaced by diesel trains. Due to the increasing use of road transport, the last train ran in 1979. The rail and sleepers were removed in the 1990's, then construction of the trail began in 2002. The Trail officially opened in October 2005.

The trail is solid, very smooth (when compared to the Munda Biddi Trail) and mainly through farm land or bush. There is a lot of old railway sleepers piled up off the track, but none on the trail. There is also a lot of dog spikes and other hundred year old rail hardware. The trail is generally flat, and I was sitting on about 18km/hr. The profile shows a gradual rise from the 30 km mark (around where the Trail crosses the Coalfields Rd the first time) and the next 10 km are a little steeper. I noticed my speed would drop to about 14 km/hr. However the last 6 or 7 km where downhill and I sat on nearly 25 - 30km/hr. There were a couple of small bridges over creeks. They often had table and chairs, so were nice spots to stop. The Coalfields Rd is usually only 100 or 200 m away from the Trail, but sometimes it is only 20m and other times it is 500m away.

Supplies are available only in Collie and Darkan with nothing in between the two towns, except water (but no toilets) at Boweling. I had Telstra phone signal in sections of the Trail, mainly nearer Collie and Darkan.

Horses are often seen on this Trail. Always slow down for them and wait for the rider to signal for you to pass.

WA's only producing coalfield is Collie, and generates 80% of the state's electricity. The four open cut mines contain 2,400 million tonnes of coal. Muja Power station is located east of the town. The Collie replica underground coal mine is on Throssell St, part of the Collie Museum. The building was designed by C Y O'Connor and was built in 1898, who recognised the importance of coal to the development of the State. The shed has recently been restored by the Collie Heritage Group. See the working lives and conditions of the early underground miners, as well as other Collie history including a strong cycling history and timber milling.

Collie is a major country town with full facilities, two supermarkets, many options for eating out and accommodation, and a fully equipped bike shop (Crank'n Cycles, Steere St). It is near the junction of the Collie and Harris Rivers, in the middle of dense jarrah forest. At the 2006 census, Collie had a population of 7,084, so it is a substantial town. It is mainly known as a coal-producing centre, but also offers industrial, agricultural, aquaculture and tourism industries.

The 20 km section of the trail between Collie and Buckingham is currently the site of a coalmine and will be included in the trail once the mine is finished and the area rehabilitated. Currently, the best option is to drive to Buckingham by the Coalfield's Highway. At the 18 km mark approximately (just after crossing the Collie River) the trail head is on road on the right (South), right next to the highway. Buckingham is on the left of the highway (North), but there is nothing much there- an old church and a couple of houses. The Trail goes down a sealed road for 1 km then turns left into the old train line. There are distance markers there.

Buckingham or Bucks Mill was named after the Buckingham brother's steam powered Mill, built in 1912. It was connected to the Collie to Narrogin train line by a 1 km long siding.

Located in front of the Collie Visitor Centre on Throssell Street is Polly, a traction engine made in 1879 in the UK. In 1875 Alexander Buckingham built a timber mill near Kelmscott and in 1880 he purchased a traction engine that later became known as Polly. He used it for several years to haul logs before reselling it to Sawyers Valley. Two of Alexander's sons became millers at Buckingham Mill, and they repurchased the engine in the 1900's and drove it there - the journey took two weeks! In 1912 she was fitted with loco wheels and winch from WAGR F 20 (made in 1885 and decommissioned in 1905, which worked at Lion Mill and Worsley) and converted for use on the railways around Collie. She worked till 1954, when the tracks were removed. After that she retired and was placed in front of the Collie Visitor Centre.

Muja was a bush settlement and wandoo mill. This mill was purchased by the Bunning Brothers in 1914, closed in 1915, then reopened in 1918. It finally closed in 1931. It now lends it's name to the power station that provides much of W.A.'s power.

The old station at Bowelling is approximately half way between Darkan and Collie, 39 km East of Collie. It is visible from the highway, next to the Durallin turn off. It has a water tank (checked by the "Friends of the Collie Darkan Rail Trail"), and a picnic table and chairs. The station is unlocked and you can view the historic display there and sign the visitor's log. It was built when Bowelling became a junction for the Wagin Collie line in 1916.

Boolading was a siding built in 1907, and became a town in 1909. This was the site chosen by the first settlers in the area, William and Sarah-Ann Gibbs, who settled in 1874. The old platform is still visible, and there is a nice stand of old pine trees that offer some shade.

Gibbs Siding was ( I presume, as I cannot find anything) to do with the early settlers of the area, the Gibbs family.

Darkan is a tiny wheatbelt town with a population of 490 at the 2011 census. Originally settled by the Gibbs family in the 1860s, they established a property called "Darkan", using a local Aboriginal name which means Black Rock. The present townsite was established with the building of the railway in 1889 (the railway station was built in 1907). Darkan has a road house and a very small supermarket. The trail ends as you cross the sealed road into the railway reserve. The near by Gull service station had a good range of sandwiches, fruit salad and home made cakes- something that really surprised me from the usual deep fried fare. I can really recommend it.

10 km to the west on the Quindanning Rd is Six Mile Cottage, a small two-room slab house. The cottage was built in the early 1900s by Dick Strange, a sleeper cutter. It was described as as being 'like a doll's house' with handmade furniture and the planks used for the walls 'all done with broad axe'. It is left unlocked so visitors can visit it.

There is the possibility for the trail to extend a further 48 km to Williams and possibly another 32 km to Narrogin.

Distances:
Collie to Buckingham presently via road only - 20 km
Buckingham to Bowelling 18 km
Bowelling to Darkan 28.5 km
Total Map Distance: 46.5 km

This page is the property of Follow My Ride, a website detailing off road cycle tracks near Perth and in Western Australia. This page is on the Collie to Darkan Rail Trail.