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Riding the Gippsland Rail Trail

Kerry Tipton

There were five of us who met at Orbost that Sunday morning in early May (another
would join us on Tuesday) with the intention to ride from the south-eastern corner of
Victoria to Wilsons Promontory using the 3 Gippsland Rail Trails - the East Gippsland,
the Gippsland Plains and the Great Southern.

East Gippsland
The first trail was from Orbost to Bairnsdale which we covered at a steady pace over 2
days. The sun shone gently on us as we cycled through the forest on a surface that
fluctuated from dirt with leaf litter to sandy and even some hard-packed
gravel. Whichever, it was good to have a wide tire with a bit of tread to it. Occasionally
a wallaby would scoot across the track and we also saw some Black Cockatoos and
Apostle birds.

Although the hotel at Nowra did not come up to our expectations (to say the least) the
café at the caravan park across the road served us delicious focaccias which made up
for it (other than this anomaly, accommodation at the various hotels we stayed at were
excellent). A side trip by car to Lakes Entrance for fish and chips by the lake was also a
highlight, as was the Stony Creek trestle bridge which is a massive engineering feat,
constructed in 1916 from the very trees it resides with. It is 247 metres long and 20
high and carried trains until damaged by bushfires in the eighties. Trevor was
determined to take aerial photos of the bridge with his drone but it obstinately refused
to work at the time. He drove all the way back there the next day - I think you will agree
the attached photo was worth the hassle.

The next day there were a couple of long gradual climbs but breathing in the forest air,
looking down on pastures from the height of the railway cutting and the wonderful
descent from Colquhoun, were ample compensation.

Gippsland Plains
We spent a free day exploring the major country towns of Bairnsdale and Sale then on
the Wednesday we cycled from Sale along country roads to the beginning of the
Gippsland Plains rail trail at Stratford.

Note to all - of the many wonderful country bakeries we diligently studied and sampled.

Gippsland plains

South Gippsland
For our final trail, we drove to Meeniyan (in particular, the bakery which had been highly
recommend). This day was decidedly cooler than the others and the weather prediction
for Saturday was extremely negative so we revised our plan of doing the Great
Southern Rail Trail to one day. That is, we ro

de the trail from Meeniyan to Port
Welshpool but left the other 13km from Meeniyan to Leongatha for some future bike
holiday (a good excuse to come back). The section we did do was lovely - it had all the
undulating hills of the East Gippsland trail and ended with the flat farm plains similar to
the Gippsland Plains trail. Although there was not much in the way of shops or people
at Port Welshpool, the general store does make delicious hot chips and the Port
Welshpool Jetty is a great place for a long walk - all 800 metres.

We spent Saturday exploring all the little towns along the trail by car, as the rain and
wind made cycling an untenable proposition. But whether it is by 2 wheels or 4, this
part of Victoria is a pleasure to explore.

So ended our journey as we made our respective way back to Sydney on the
Sunday. Our thanks to Alison Pryor for her wonderful planning skills and for
contributing her car and driving skills to support us throughout the week.

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