A spectacular Rail Trail close to Melbourne, Phillip Island and Wilsons Promitory. This trail has seen many major improvements in recent years, and can easily be ridden as a two day tour or return day trip for the more enthusiastic.
Leongatha and Foster are on the South Gippsland Highway. Leongatha is 129 km southeast of Melbourne and Foster is 122 km southwest of Sale.
Travel further east to Yarram or Port Albert for another 13km of trail mainly following the old railway line called the Tarra Trail
Combine your rail trail journey with other regional attractions such as Lyre Bird Hill Winery, Agnes Falls, Walkerville Lime Kilns, Coal Creek Heritage Village, or Wilsons Promontory National Park.
The South Gippsland Tourist Railway runs trains between Nyora and Leongatha. Cyclists can take their bicycles on the first train from Korumburra station to Leongatha, cycle on the trail then return by the last train to Korumburra.
Leongatha: east of the railway station in Horticultural Park.
Koonwarra: adjacent to the Koonwarra Café.
Meeniyan: 100m north of the Main Sth Gippsland Rd and Hanily St intersection.
Stony Creek: opposite the Stony Creek general store.
Fish Creek: picnic area on Falls Rd, next to the petrol station.
Foster: 1km south of the town centre on Station Rd.
Yarram: adjacent to the site of old railway station
Port Albert: adjacent to Port Albert Jetty
Leongatha – Koonwarra (8km)
From Leongatha to Koonwarra the trail descends to the wide-open dairy farming country for which this area is renowned. Give way to dairy cattle crossing the trail!
Near Koonwarra the trail enters teatree and eucalypt bushland.
At Koonwarra, an underpass goes under the highway. The trail currently ends near the recreation reserve.
Koonwarra – Meeniyan (9km)
Flat trail, very easy walk. Start in Meeniyan behind petrol station. Here the trail begins the long diversion south that the railway took to Fish Creek in order to avoid the Foster hills. The trail is mostly surrounded by swamp scrub and lowland forest.
From Koonwarra recreation reserve it is necessary to take to the highway for 3km. Take care as the road is busy and narrow
Rejoin the trail after 3km at a gate on the left hand side, opposite Minns Rd. This short section of trail is fairly rough.
A new bridge has been built over the Tarwin River during 2007. Check out the old trestle bridge alongside the new bridge
Meeniyan – Buffalo (11km)
Flat trail, very easy walk. There is a functioning weighbridge at Buffalo railway station that will form the nucleus for a museum in the future.
Look to the west of Farmers Rd for the site of Meeniyan station. Now only the buffer stops remain.
The trail passes through bushland and has a fine gravel surface. There is a café just off the trail at Stony Creek.
From Stony Creek to Buffalo the trail is undulating. Just over 2km from Stony Creek on the left are the remains of a rail motor stopping place used for local passengers and small freight. Grey kangaroos, wallabies and many bird species are a common sight here.
Buffalo – Hoddle Range (13km)
A more hilly area as the trail enters the foothills of the Hoddle Range. The trail rises 40m in elevation between Buffalo and Boys, and descends about 50m to Fish Creek. There are a number of cuttings and embankments providing changing views of dense vegetation including Blue Gums and Paperbarks and open farmland. From Fish Creek the trail climbs a valley on the west side of the Hoddle Range and crosses the summit at an elevation of 140m just past Lowrys Road. The elevation of Mt Hoddle on the right is 304m
From Buffalo the trail turns south-east and begins a steady climb to the locality of Boys, then descends steadily for 2.5km to Fish Creek
At Fish Creek the former freight sidings are now a parking area but the station platform remains. Note the fish-shaped tables in the picnic shelter. There are an old butter factory, book and antique stores, the Promontory Hotel and plenty of places to eat.
From Fish Creek the trail climbs for 6km to Hoddle Summit, named after Victoria’s first Surveyor-General, Robert Hoddle.
Hoddle Range – Foster (7km)
There is a lot of dense forest along the side of the trail composed of a great variety of plants including tree ferns and orchids, with plenty of resident bird and animal life. A kilometre or so past the bridge the trail is more open and there are spectacular views of Wilsons Promontory and Corner Inlet.
Descending from the hills, there are spectacular views of Corner Inlet, the Strzelecki Range to the north and the mountains of Wilsons Promontory to the south east.
Closer to Foster, the trail crosses a minor unsealed road then the Foster – Wilson’s Promontory Rd. Divert around the trestle bridge crossing the Stockyard Creek.
Foster station site is reached 100m from the T-junction of Dyrings Rd and Station Rd. Follow Station Rd for 1km to reach the town centre. The trail continues for a further 1km to Charity Lane.
Retrace your path on the trail or return on the Foster Fish Creek Rd and then Meeniyan Rd – but expect some climbs and fast passing traffic.
Another short section of trail has been developed between Yarram to Port Albert. The old railway line once went from Foster to Alberton and onto Yarram and Port Albert.
the 6.5km from Yarram to Alberton follows the old railway alignment.
The 6.5km from Alberton to Port Albert is on-road, but roads are generally lightly trafficked in the area.
Enjoy coastal views, and soak up history at historic Port Albert, the original gateway to the Goldfields.
The Great Southern Railway was financed by government in response to pressure by the settlers in South Gippsland, for transport of the rich agricultural, coal and timber resourses. The railway took five years to build and opened in 1892. It initially joined Dandenong to Port Albert, and was later extended to Yarram and Woodside; there were also branch-lines to Outtrim and Wonthaggi.
The last steam train ran to Yarram on 26 October 1987. There were numerous steam hauled tours to Leongatha in the early 1990s. In 1993 there were two notable trips to Leongatha that were steam hauled. On 25 July 1993, the apparent last steam train to South Gippsland, ran with a long consist of wooden carriages. All the tracks past Leongatha were removed by 1992.
The line from Cranbourne to Leongatha was closed in 1993. Unfortuantely while several governments looked at reopening the line to Leongatha this did not happened and in 2012 several kilometres or rail were removed at Koo Wee Rup and a short rail trail constructed there.
Work continues on the next section of the East Gippsland Rail Trail. Reports from Gippsland Plains, Great Southern and Walhalla Goldfields railtrails. Plans for an Gippsland Rail Trail newsletter.