Toukley & District Cycle Club
Pedro's trip on Victoria's rail trails, Gippsland.

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Hi all! Just a quick report about my rail trail ride in Gippsland, Victoria.
Taking advantage of visiting Melbourne for Christmas I decided to do the rail trails of Gippsland.
Wednesday 17th Dec. Left the caravan park and rode the 20km to Dandenong and caught an hour and three quarter train ride to Traralgon for an overnight stop.
Thursday 18th Set off from motel and rode through town to the start of the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail. This trail is reasonably level with only a few easy climbs. Passed through Glengarry, Toongabbie and Conwarr. Coffee stop. Continued on along the trail until I came across a section that had been washed away during earlier storms so had to revert to the road for a couple of kms into Heyfield where I took lunch. Then back on the trail through Tinamba, Maffra before riding into Stratford for my overnight stop. Weather was fine and cloudy with a slight tail wind. That evening we had a thunder storm. Distance travelled 74km.
Friday 19th. Woke to a fine and sunny morning after the storm. Set of through town on the main highway before turning off onto country lanes. Today is the only day of riding on the road. Again with a slight tail wind made good time so decided to do an out and back trip to Hollands Landing hoping to find a coffee shop. Not a bloody thing! The place was shut and derelict. By this time the wind had grown a little stronger and the return trip to the turn off was hard going. With absolutely no towns I got no drinks or food and relied on my water bottles and nut bars to see me through to Bairnsdale for my next stop. By this time a light drizzle was in the air but not enough to get the wet-weather gear on. Checked into motel then went in search of beer and food at the local RSL. Distance today 99km.
Saturday 20th. Again a ride through town to the start of the East Gippsland Rail Trail. Another sunny morning and favourable breeze. Made Nicholson in good time so pressed on up hill to Bruthen for a tea and toast break. Topped up the water bottle as I knew there were no more stopping points for the rest of the day. Set off out of Bruthen to the start of a 12km grind uphill all the way to the turn off for Lakes Entrance. Managed a modest 12kph for the climb. At this point I turned off the rail trail and rode along the Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail. This is a much narrower bush track and mainly used by walkers. Some sections were very steep and I resorted to pushing the bike. Part of this track was originally a tram way to ferry rock from a quarry down to Lakes Entrance so this section was very pleasant as it was reasonably level. However the 25km on this track took me 2 hours. Eventually reached Lakes Entrance for my overnight stop. Distance today was 75km. Great motel with swimming pool to sort out the legs.
Sunday 21st. Another fine morning. Set off to retrace the ride along the Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail. Knowing what I had ridden down, I knew today would be a hard one. Straight up a 2km granny gear hill out of town followed by 6km of ups and downs before reaching the tram way section for a bit of respite. Had a look at the quarry before tacking the most difficult part of the track. Panniers off, push the bike halfway up the hill, back down and take panniers to the top of the hill, down again and push bike to top of hill. Reload and set off to the next uphill which I managed to push up with all gear intact. Finally arrived back at the Rail Trail 2 hours later. This section of the Rail Trail is also very hilly. Where the railway crossed ravines they built bridges but these are now unsafe so you have to ride down into the ravine then push your bike up the other side. There were three of these today. Next stop for lunch was Nowa Nowa where I spent an hour looking round the market and having lunch to top up the energy. Continued on the Trail and finally reach Orbost at 4.00pm pretty well knackered. This was my longest day as far as time was concerned, eight hours. Distance today 87km.
Monday 22nd. Arranged pickup to drive me back to Bairnsdale where I caught the train back to Dandenong then rode the 20km back to Chelsea.
The rail trails were hard-packed sand and gravel and, when dry, fairly easy to ride on. I spent 236 km on gravel and 139 on road for a total of 375 km for the trip. During the trip I saw many varieties of parrots and other birds, a couple of very large goannas, roos, rabbits and one or two humans during the rail trail sections. Enjoyed the trip though most people say that I am a masochist or nuts.
Pedro

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