Walking the accessible sections of the tramway
For most of its length, the tramway route is on private property and therefore not accessible to the public. Of the remaining sections, that is those on public land, other considerations further restrict access opportunities. The section through the National Park for example cannot be promoted here until Queensland NPWS compliance issues are addressed and other sections, such as those located on narrow road verges or infested with lantana, are simply not safe to visit. As a result, for the time being at least, we are limited to describing 5 sections that are accessible and of potential interest to visitors. Those sections are the Great Short Walk, the Perseverance Reserve, intersection of Kynoch and National Park Roads, the Ravensbourne Sports Ground and Bunkers Hill.
Near one of these sections - the one at the Ravensbourne Sports Ground - there's also the opportunity to view a full size Shay loco display. That display, made up of a combination of original and replica components, has been assembled by Munro Tramway Historical Group members.
The Google Earth image below shows the location of each of the 5 sections and the location of the Shay loco display.
Tramway route overview with accessible walks shown. Note that red traces indicate sections of route on private property and therefore not accessible to the public
Credit: Google Earth
All of the walking tracks, with the exception of the Great Short Walk, are less than 200 metres long and as the total drive distance between the walks is only of the order of 40 minutes, it is possible to take in all 5 sites on the one day visit. A road map showing how to access the walking tracks can be accessed from this road map link.
Parking areas exist close to the entry point of each walking track and the location of those parking areas can be viewed using the zoomable Google Maps feature included in each of the following walk descriptions.
Please note that for the most part these tracks are not professionally developed nor accredited and some are no more than roughly cleared trails. Also, all of these tracks are bordered by private property and we encourage visitors to respect those property boundaries.
The following walk descriptions are presented in west to east order, starting with Walk 1- The Great Short Walk.
Walk 1. Great Short Walk
The Great Short Walk is an established 1.5 km (3.0 km return) walking track that closely follows the tramway route. Access to this site would generally be made by travelling along the Esk-Hampton Road, then along Perseverance Hall Road and finally along Palmtree Road, as illustrated on the road map.
The area set aside for car parking is in Palmtree Road at coordinates -27.394370°, 152.103678°, and the walk starts just opposite that parking area. The Google Map below is centred on the car parking area.
Zoomable map centred on car parking area (-27.394370°, 152.103678°).
Access to the car park and start of walk, 100 metres from this corner
This walk is reasonably well formed and it contains some quite clear evidence of the tramway bed and associated cuttings. There's 5 interpretive signs along this section, located where marked on the image below, each outlining facts associated with the line. Images of those signs can be viewed via this link.
Walk 1 - track location
Credit: Google Earth
The first significant feature encountered along the walk is a dry gully, located about 400 metres along from the carpark. In the days of the tramway, this gully was crossed by a wooden trestle bridge known as McQuillan's Bridge and while nothing remains of the structure, its scale can be appreciated when looking out across this gully. An interpretive sign is located at the bridge site and it provides some interesting facts related to the bridge.
Milled timber heading up to Hampton across McQuillan's Bridge
McQuillan's Bridge site, photographed 2017
Continuing on from the bridge site the track passes to the east of Mt Sugarloaf and enters a level stretch with a steep drop off to the left. A bench and interpretive sign are located at the beginning of that stretch.
Bench and sign just past Mt Sugarloaf
Continuing on from the bench, the cut into the adjacent hill slope becomes very distinct as the viewing platform is approached and one can imagine the considerable amount of work required to construct this section of line. The view from the platform is somewhat obscured by regrowth but it does provide a vantage point to view the steep drop off at the side of the tramway and the precarious nature of the route at this point. There are reports of a serious derailment occurring along this section resulting in laden wagons tumbling down this slope.
At the end of this straight section the line begins a series of sweep bends and one can imagine the exhilaration of the journey from Hampton down through this area.
One of the sweep bends
The end of the walk is marked by a signpost and an interpretive sign containing some interesting details of the tramway operation.
Interpretive sign at end of the walking track
Rest area with table and seats on the eastern side of the walking track
And there's a table with seating just to the east of the track at that point and it provides a place to take a break before the return walk back to the carpark.
Close-up images of each of the 5 interpretive signs located along this section can be viewed on our IMAGES>TRAIL SIGNS page.
Walk 2. Perseverance Reserve
From the Great Short Walk car park area the tramway route continues east along the side of Palmtree Road, where some evidence of the bench can still be seen, before entering the Perseverance Reserve. It is possible to walk this stretch from the GSW carpark to the Perseverance Reserve but care should be taken as it does involve walking along Palmtree Road for part of the way. Once in the Reserve the bench is clearly visible as it runs parallel to Palmtree Road for a distance of about 175 metres. As marked on the image below, there is a section of road verge opposite the Reserve that can be used for parking. Directly opposite that parking area there are two interpretive signs providing information about the tramway and the layout of the Reserve. The entry point to this site has the GPS coordinates -27.396950° 152.114578°.
Walk 2 - track location
Credit: Google Earth
The walking track along this section of tramway bench is also reasonably well formed and there are options of further walks within the Reserve as indicated by the map on one of the interpretive signs opposite the parking area.
Tramway bench through the Reserve
Interpretive sign showing the walking tracks within the Reserve
This is an interesting area, largely cleared of invasive weeds by the Ravensbourne and District Landcare Group, and now showing signs of native species regrowth. There's also another interpretive sign, located down near the creek, and it provides a brief outline of the early timber industry in this district including details of the types of trees that were milled.
Interpretive sign in the regrowth area near the creek
After exiting the Reserve the line enters private property on its way down towards the Palmtree sawmill.
Close-up images of each of the 3 interpretive signs located within the Reserve can be viewed on our IMAGES>TRAIL SIGNS page.
Walk 4 - Ravensbourne Sports Ground
The next site where a section of the tramway route can be walked is near the intersection of National Park Road and Esk-Hampton Road, adjacent to the Ravensbourne Sports Ground. Most visitors will travel to the site along the Esk-Hampton Road and for those approaching the site from the Esk end, the travel distance will be 32 km, and for those approaching the site from the Hampton end, the travel distance will be 13.5 km. There is parking, a sheltered table and toilets in front of the Sports Ground (at GPS coordinates -27.360327° 152.176488°).
As indicated on the Google Earth image at right below, the tramway passed directly in front of the Sports Ground and alongside National Park Road. The section in front of the Sports Ground is of particular interest as it is here that the Munro Tramway Historical Group Inc. has displayed some of the surviving remains of one the A&D Munro loco's. Those remains include an original boiler and an original tender, both of which have been refurbished and assembled, together with some replica components, to create a loco display. This display is located on the tramway route.
Zoomable map centred on car parking area (-27.394370°, 152.103678°)
Walk 4 - track and display location
The boiler in this display formed part of Shay 906 - a Class A Shay purchased by A&D Munro from the USA based Lima Locomotive and Machine Company in 1904.
Loco display located on the corner of the Esk-Hampton Road and National Park Road
As illustrated below, about 40 metres away from the display, on the opposite side of National Park Road, is the entry point to a short walk along the tramway route.
Loco display and adjacent Walk 4
Loco display and adjacent Walk 4
The walk is about 130 metres in length, is well defined and it passes through some interesting regrowth vegetation.
A short walk, but easily accessed and close to amenities. Also, it is close to some areas of outstanding natural beauty, including the Ravensbourne National Park and Gus Beutel Lookout.
Approaching Gus Beutel Lookout
Walk 5 - Bunkers Hill
The next site where the tramway route can be accessed is the line terminus at Bunkers Hill. That site is just off the Esk-Hampton Road, about 18.5 km from Hampton and 27.5 km from Esk.
The Esk-Hampton Road at this point sweeps around a "double white lined" bend in a 100 kmh speed zone and pre-trip Google "StreetView" type familiarisation of this stretch of road is recommended as care is needed when slowing down to approach this site.
loc: -27.335206 ,152.200332
Walk 5 - track location
A small track on the eastern side of the Esk-Hampton Road provides access to the site. It is possible to drive in along this track but, as this track leaves the Esk-Hampton Road on a 100 kmh speed zone bend, parking on the western side verge of the Esk-Hampton Road near the Somerset Region boundary sign and walking across to the track may be a safer option. Either way, pre-trip Google "StreetView" type familiarisation of this stretch of road is recommended.
Proceed along that track for about 100 metres at which point there's a gate locked to prevent vehicle access. Pass through the fence at that point and continue walking along the track for another 100 metres or so until the terminal point shown in the image above is reached. The GPS coordinates for the terminal point are -27.335188,152.202638.
Looking towards Esk, parking option on left hand verge in front of the "Welcome to Somerset Region" sign, track entry just visible on right
The section of tramway bench running from this terminal point to the Esk-Hampton Road is about 160 metres long and is accessible to the public; however for most of that length it runs through an area heavily infested with lantana. To allow recording of the route, a roughly cleared path has been cut through this lantana but regrowth is likely and appropriate care should be taken if venturing in this area. The terminal itself is in an open, largely lantana free, area and should remain accessible.
Route crosses over from Esk-Hampton Road at this point
Exiting the lantana at the clearing end
Some highlights to look out for include a sleeper or two and a substantial wooden beam that appears to have served to support the sleepers near the loading area.
Embedded sleeper together with two spikes
Beam (circled red) supporting sleepers (one circled blue)
We were expecting to find a turnaround facility, e.g. a loop or a WYE, at this terminus but instead found only what appears to be a parallel siding. This came as a surprise as the lack of a turnaround facility means that on one leg of the journey (most likely the outward leg) the loco would have had to travelled in reverse for the whole distance, i.e. 11.5 km.
We hope those planning to visit these sites find this information helpful and that when you do visit you have an enjoyable and safe experience. And please remember to respect the rights of the adjacent property owners.
We welcome any comments from those who do visit these sites as well as any comments or additional material relating to the Tramway or other Munro activities.