Balhannah to Mount Pleasant Railway

A long abandoned railway line in the Adelaide Hills is now a popular bike trail.

The Balhannah to Mount Pleasant line was opened in September 1918 and ran north through the Adelaide hills until 1963. That’s not a long life for a railway line. Big parts of it have been completely erased by time and progress. But a long stretch of it has a new life as a popular cycling and walking trail through the charming Onkaparinga Valley.

Balhannah Railway Station. Taken in 2021.
Balhannah Station – 2021
An old black and white photo of a station.
Balhannah Station circa 1915. State Government photographer – The History Trust of South Australia.

The line was provided with six stations and a varying number of halts. The halts were generally located near level crossings for people and goods to board or alight the train.

The six stations were Oakbank, Woodside, Charleston, Mount Torrens, Birdwood, and the terminus at Mount Pleasant, 49 rail miles from Adelaide.

An old black and white photo of a station.
Oakbank Station 1919 – The History Trust of South Australia, South Australian Government

Between Balhannah and Oakbank the line is no longer publicly accessible. The cutting that started the line and a few culverts is all you can see on Google Earth. There is absolutely nothing left of the once sprawling Oakbank station yard either but just north of Oakbank is the start of the Amy Gillett Rail Trail. Named in honour of the late South Australian born Olympic Cyclist, this sealed walking/cycling track extends from Balhannah to Mount Torrens. It’s popular all year round.

A trail winding through trees.
Amy Gillett Bikeway

One of the only major engineering features of the line was the Burford’s Hill Road bridge.

An old concrete railway bridge over a road.
Burford’s Hill Road bridge.

Even at the terminus, Mount Pleasant, there is no trace of a railway but there is a small plaque. I dare you to try and find it.

A commemorative plaque
Mount Pleasant & Balhannah Railway commemorative plaque

Want more? Click the video below for a visual virtual trip into Adelaide Hills history.

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