East Gippsland Rail Trail
The East Gippsland Rail Trail currently runs from Bairnsdale, (280 km east of Melbourne on the Princes Hwy), to Nowa Nowa - A distance of about 65 km one way. It is proposed to extend the trail to Orbost, some 28 km east of Nowa Nowa. The trail is a shared cycling, horse & pedestrian path, with horses using the verges of the trail. The trail starts just east of the Mitchell River in Bairnsdale, passing through (mainly) farmland and the townships/localities of Nicholson, Mossiface, Wiseleigh and Bruthen, before entering the Colquhuon State Forest several kilometres the other side of Bruthen. The best map of the area, which covers the trail as far as Nowa Nowa, is the Craigie's Visitor Map for Lakes Entrance & Bairnsdale. This map is available from newsagents around the area for under $6. (Distributed by Cartodraft Australia ph 02 8850 1044).
I did the ride in 2 stages. On the first day, I rode from
Bairnsdale to Bruthen & the Colquhuon Rdą crossing (half way
between Bruthen & Nowa Nowa), and returned via Ward Rd and
Tambo Upper, rejoining the trail again at Stephenson Rd. Ward Rd
is sandy in some places, but some of the views are quite good.
Going downhill along the bitumen Tambo Upper Rd is great, but the
hill along Stephenson Rd back up to the trail was a killer. Total
distance about 90 km.
About a week later, I got dropped off at Bruthen and did the return trip to Nowa Nowa. Distance approx 60 km.
Note 1: Colquhuon Rd is also called the Lakes - Colquhuon Rd
TRACK SURFACE : From Bairsdale to Nicholson : Bitumen. Nicholson to Nowa Nowa : Compressed gravel. Mostly easy riding, except for the last 15 km or so between Colquhuon Rd and Nowa Nowa, where the surface was sandy in places and generally not as easy to ride on.
GRADIENT: Height varies between approx sea level and just over 100m. The only steep parts are a few places where a new track has been created to bypass unsafe or dismantled bridges. The worst of these is the Stony Ck trestle bridge - I walked the bike both up & down each side of the hill. I'm a bit of a whimp when it comes to ruts and loose gravel!
FACILITIES: Barinsdale is a large town with several bike shops, supermarkets and camping grounds. The Mitchell Gardens Caravan Park is a few hundred metres from the start of the rail trail. Nicholson has a general store, hotel & picnic area. Bruthen is a pleasant town and has a caravan park, hotel and a few shops. Nowa Nowa has a caravan park, hotel and general store. There are no facilities between Bruthen & Nowa Nowa.
|LEFT: Start of Rail Trail in Bairnsdale,
just East of the Mitchell River.
RIGHT: The trail is bitumen as far as the Nicholson River bridge - about 8 km. This is typical of the barriers at road crossings on this part of the trail. ie 'Gate' can be opened for trail maintenance vehicles.
|LEFT: Approach to Nicholson River Bridge,
with the old Nicholson railway station location marked by
a sign on the right hand side of the trail.
|LEFT: A short tunnel under one of the
Right: An old mate 'Sean' whom I encountered.
|At several locations on the
trail the old trestle bridges have either been dismantled
or bypassed due to safety concerns. The sections where
the trail leaves the old route to detour via the new
bridges or to meet roads at the same level are steeper
than the rest of the trail. In some cases these detours
are quite narrow - getting down to the width of a narrow
walking track in one or two places.
This photo was taken just beside the Great Alpine Road (ex Omeo Hwy), between Wiseleigh and Bruthen, and shows the new and old bridges.
|LEFT: Crossing the Tambo River just on
the Nowa Nowa side of Bruthen.
RIGHT: Looking back across the bridge towards Bruthen.
|Views from the rail trail, just after crossing the Bruthen - Buchan Rd. From here the trail starts a gradual climb for 8 km or so.|
|LEFT: After about Nicholson, the trail builders
decided to implament far more bike (and horse) friendly
barriers - Signs after each crossroad reading 'Rail Trail
Maintenance Vehicles Only'.
RIGHT: Change of scenery.
|'Prime Rail Trail fromtage bush block.
Only 4 km to the nearest road...'
Seriously, this section of the track is my favourite - between the Buchan road just out of Bruthen and Bruce Rd. It's a gradual climb, starting off with farmland, then passing into the Colquhuon State Forest. It was magic riding back down in the late afternoon.
|LEFT: About 8 km out of Bruthen the East Coast gas
pipeline joins the trail (Cleared area to the left of the
trail). This is a mixed blessing - It doesn't do much for
the attractiveness of the trail, but then again it's the
reason why this part of the trail was fast tracked.
RIGHT: A 'road' intersection beside the trail.
|Stony Creek trestle bridge, a few km west of Nowa Nowa.||
Last Updated: 27/04/03