Follow a Rail Trail on a bike or foot to experience the history and natural features of an area. There are Rail Trails throughout Victoria.
What are Rail Trails? - Rail trails are shared-use paths recycled from abandoned railway corridors. They can be used for walking, cycling and horse riding.
Where are they? - There are now rail trails all around Australia and in other countries too. Rail trails link big and small country towns and meander through scenic countryside just as railways did in the past.
What are they like? - Most trails have a gravel or dirt surface suitable for walking, mountain bikes and horses. Some are sealed and are great for touring bikes too. Following the route of the railways, they cut through hills, under roads, over embankments and across gullies and creeks. Apart from being great places to walk, cycle or horse ride, rail trails are linear conservation corridors protecting native plants and animals. They often link remnant vegetation in farming areas and contain valuable flora and fauna habitat. Wineries and other attractions are near many trails as well as B&B's and other great places to stay.
Are the rails still there? - The rails are usually removed when a railway is closed, but remnants of the past such as railway cuttings and bridges still remain.
[from Article - "On Track - 10 of the State's Best Rail Trails" in Weekly Times Now]
VICTORIA has 26 rail trails. Here are some of the best.
Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail
VICTORIA'S premier rail trail, this sealed bitumen route runs from Wangaratta to Bright (82km) with an offshoot to Beechworth (16km). Future plans will see the trail cover 240km from the Murray River at Wahgunyah to Bright, with links to the King Valley and the Milawa region. (www.railtrail.com.au)
Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail
ANOTHER of the state's most popular trails, Lilydale to Warburton is 40km-long. It's gravel most of the way, from Lilydale to Millgrove, then sealed to Warburton.
The trail runs along the Yarra River valley following the old train line which was built in 1901, but closed in 1965.
East Gippsland Rail Trail
THE 94km track runs from Bairnsdale to Orbost and is sealed for the first section from Bairnsdale to Nicholson, then gravel all the way to Orbost. The track runs through forest and farmland with views of Gippsland Lakes. (www.eastgippslandrailtrail.com)
Bellarine Peninsula Rail Trail
THE 32km gravel trail from Geelong to Queenscliff via Drysdale runs through farmland and coastal towns.
The Queenscliff train line was opened in 1879 to carry soldiers and materials to help defend Port Phillip and to carry holiday-makers to the seaside towns.
The line was closed in 1976, but reopened as a tourist attraction in 1981.
Outer Circle Rail Trail
ONE of Melbourne's popular bike paths, this trail runs from Fairfield to Hughesdale through the eastern suburbs of East Camberwell and East Malvern.
The 14km bitumen track follows a rail line that was built in 1890 to connect the Gippsland line to Melbourne, but closed just three years later due to the Depression. Parts were opened later, but never the entire line.
Great Southern Rail Trail
THIS trail runs from Leongatha in South Gippsland through Meeniyan, Stony Creek, Buffalo and Fish Creek to Foster.
It's a 49km gravel track that runs through dairy country and has views of Wilsons Promontory.
The rail line was built in 1892 to carry coal, timber and agriculture around the country, but closed in 1992.
High Country Rail Trail
THE 40km trail from Wodonga to Old Tallangatta runs through farmland, past Bonegilla Station (the highest station in Victoria) and beside Lake Hume.
It is mostly gravel, with a 9km sealed section.
The original rail line was built in 1887. It was moved in the 1930s when the town of Tallangatta was relocated, then used to carry construction material for the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme in the 1960s. It closed in 1981.
Old Beechy Rail Trail
A 46KM trail from Colac south to Beech Forest, this track follows one of Victoria's narrow gauge railways which opened in 1902 and played an important role in the development of the Otways. It closed in 1962.
Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail
THIS 54km trail runs from Ballarat west to Skipton, past historic gold mining sites and over a trestle bridge near Newtown. The track was given a new surface last year and an upgrade to extend it to Lake Wendouree in Ballarat is set to be completed this year.
Port Fairy to Warrnambool
THE Port Fairy to Warrnambool link will be the next trail opened for visitors.
The 37km track will run from the Moyne River in Port Fairy, through Koroit to Warrnambool and is set to be completed by the end of the year