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Re-purposing rail trails for tourism

Rail trails are fast becoming a key tourism drawcard as the once thriving transport routes are being repurposed as natural corridors, offering fantastic opportunities for pedestrian and cycle trails. With the networks revealing some of Australia's most scenic country, they provide an opportunity for visitors to enjoy recreation in locations rich in historic, environmental and cultural significance.

Bicycle leaning up against trailhead sign
Image courtesy of Cycle Touring Australia and Beyond


At the time of writing, there are just shy of 150 rail trails in Australia, with the longest being the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail at 161km. Coming in not too far behind is the extensive Great Victorian Rail Trail at 134km, located in the luscious country North of Melbourne.

Map of Great Victorian Rail Trail network
Great Victorian Rail Trail

Recently Armsign had the opportunity to develop sign designs for the Great Victorian Rail Trail. The project saw us pitch concepts, finalise designs and manufacture of over one hundred signs across an area of 134 km. It was a project that provided us with a unique insight into how the rail trails can bring the to a region.

Here are a few valuable insights we gained from the experience....

Sharing Stories 

Dotted with signage spread out over many miles, they provide a fantastic opportunity to create meaningful interpretive signage - bite sizes nuggets of information that engage and entertain the visitor. The content can go beyond that the railway itself, addressing the environmental and cultural heritage as well.

Connecting Communities 

Rail trails are more than just paths; they are vital connectors of communities. Transforming disused railway lines into scenic trails provides an opportunity for people to come together, fostering a sense of belonging and shared experience. Towns along these trails often see increased tourism, injecting life into local businesses. 


Health and Wellbeing 

Australia's rail trails offer more than just a stroll through nature; they are a pathway to better health. Walking, jogging, cycling, or even rollerblading on these trails provides a low-impact exercise option for people of all ages. The benefits extend beyond physical health, contributing to improved mental well-being as individuals immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. 

Walking and cycle trail through bushland


Environmental Conservation 

By repurposing old railway corridors, rail trails contribute to environmental conservation efforts. These trails often traverse through natural habitats, providing a sustainable way for communities to appreciate and preserve their local ecosystems. This symbiotic relationship between recreation and conservation helps create a sense of responsibility for the environment. 


Educational Opportunities 

Armsign knows the importance of informative experiences, and rail trails provide an excellent platform for education. Signage along these trails can offer historical insights into the railway's past, highlight local flora and fauna, and educate visitors about the significance of the surrounding landscapes. Our Polycure signage can enhance these educational aspects, creating visually stunning and informative displays that can stand up against even the harshest of weather conditions. 

Family cycling on rail trail
Image courtesy of Great Victorian Rail Trail

Tourism Boost 

Rail trails are magnets for tourists seeking unique and picturesque adventures. As a signage specialist, we understand the impact of visually appealing wayfinding panels. Clear and engaging signage not only guides visitors but also adds to the overall experience, making their journey more enjoyable and memorable. 


Promoting Sustainable Tourism 

Armsign's commitment to sustainability aligns with the eco-friendly nature of rail trails. These pathways encourage sustainable tourism by promoting activities that have a minimal impact on the environment. Our signature audio units, powered by solar energy or user-generated power, perfectly complement the eco-conscious ethos of rail trails. 

Cyclists riding through countryside on a rail trail
Image courtesy of Great Victorian Rail Trail

It's fair to say that the benefits of rail trails in Australia are vast and varied. From fostering community connections to promoting physical and mental well-being, these trails are important markers in of history and culture.

Armsign celebrates the positive impact rail trails bring to communities across the country. So, lace up your shoes, grab your bike, and embark on the adventure that rail trails in Australia have to offer! 


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