Fernleigh Track – Rail History Signage

Lake Macquarie City Council engaged The Interpretive Design Company  to compose the content and design the graphic layout of approximately 40 interpretive signage panels for the Fernleigh Track – a 15 kilometre shared pathway along a disused rail corridor that links the cities of Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.

Date: November 2013 – September 2014
Service: Content research, interpretive writing, graphic design, image search
Specs: 40 signs, 657mm wide x 1200mm high. Themed by rail history, the environment, and aboriginal heritage.
Client: Lake Macquarie and Newcastle Councils

Shared cycleway and walking track

The Fernleigh Track is a 15.5km long, disused rail corridor connecting Newcastle (Adamstown) to Lake Macquarie (Belmont). When the rail line closed in 1991 local residents began to use the corridor for walking and cycling amongst other activities.

Dee and Peter responded to the challenges of this project (vast amount of raw content, multiple interpretive themes, constraints of an existing signage design palette and stakeholders/client with little knowledge of the field of cultural interpretation) with great professionalism. I was equally impressed with the designs they provided as I was with their positive, solutions-based attitude and co-operative approach. Their creativity and expertise added great value to the project outcomes, and the response to their work from our local community  has only been positive.

I would have no hesitation to engage The Interpretive Design Company again, and would recommend them to anyone in need of interpretive design services.
Caroline Cook, Landscape Architect, Lake Macquarie City Council.

Interpretive Writing

The cultural heritage of the Fernleigh Track can be observed through numerous railway relics preserved along its length and now the accompanying interpretive signage. The route also provides easy access through some of the most significant and diverse habitats within the region, where visitors can observe a variety of landscapes. It connects into the broader regional walking and cycling network that includes the Great North Walk and NSW Coastal Cycleway and is promoted as a high quality Rail Trail in NSW.

Fernleigh Track Heritage signage

Our key themes for interpretation and story telling were based on the following:

  • Natural environment (wetland and woodland)
  • Aboriginal heritage
  • Natural resources (coal mining)
  • Urban Settlements + Migration (Nissen Hut community)
  • Transport (Railway)
  • Defence (WWII troop transport and facilities).

Personal stories were an important part of the writing process as they can connect with visitor experiences.

Interpretive Design Elements

The Fernleigh Track logo was plasma cut into stainless steel. The signs were mounted on steel railway tracks … the original CORten.

Different themes were represented by different colour palettes.

  • Rail and Coal History – grey and muted tones
  • Aboriginal content – rich colours, browns and orange
  • Environmental – greens and blues for the wetland

Environment (wetland and woodland) panels

Aboriginal heritage panels

View Fernleigh Track Aboriginal Panels

Rail and Coal History

Categories:   Historical & Heritage, Interpretive Projects, Signage