The climb is over! Descending from Cheviot tunnel (2012)
Riders on the Bonnie Doon Bridge with plenty of water in Lake Eildon (2011)
Formerly known as the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail, this is a high standard rail trail traversing undulating farmland.
Features the only tunnel on a rail trail in Victoria and a long bridge across Lake Eildon.
Almost all of the bridges have been made trafficable and the few low level crossings are easily graded.
There are several crossings of major rural highways
The surface is either a bitumised granite, which is suitable for wheel chairs and prams, and compacted gravel which may not be suitable for wheel chairs and prams in sections. Where possible a separate bridle path is provided for horses.
Major access points are:
Trawool - Car park at the resort
Yea - At the railway station
Molesworth - Car park off Whanregarwen Rd
Bonnie Doon - Car park on the Melbourne side of the bridge
Mansfield - Old station / tourist information centre on the Melbourne side
Alexandra - Old railway station on the north side of town
Tallarook to Yea (38km)
Follows the Goulburn River up a picturesque valley.
Yea is a medium sized regional town with several eating establishments.
The former Yea Station building has been restored and is now occupied by the local tourist information centre, as has the goods shed which is occupied by local artists. The station also has a great playground, picnic facilities and a skate park.
Yea to Cathkin (21km)
Features lots of bridges for the Yea and Goulburn River flood plains.
In the middle is the climb up to the 200m long Cheviot tunnel. Even though straight it is quite dark in the middle so take care or have a light.
There is nothing except interpretive signs and toilets at the former junction station of Cathkin. After crossing the highway go straight on for Bonnie Doon and Mansfield or veer right for Alexandra.
Cathkin to Bonnie Doon (40km)
This section has the biggest climb up to the highest point on the rail trail at Merton Gap.
Compacted gravel surface trail.
Yarck and Merton are small towns with basic facilities, while Bonnie Doon has more facilities for visitors.
Bonnie Doon to Mansfield (22km)
No real hills in this section.
Features the 385m long bridge over the Brankeet arm of Lake Eildon, a real sight when there is water under it.
Approaching Mansfield on a clear day, Mt Buller is clearly visible, a real treat when covered in snow.
Bitumised granite surface trail
Mansfield is a major regional and tourist centre with many facilities for visitors. The station is used by the historical society with some carriages, and the large tourist information centre is adjacent.
Cathkin to Alexandra (13km)
A signficant climb either way on this section with panoramic views of the valley at the top of the gap.
Bitumised granite surface to the gap and compacted gravel surface trail to Alexandra.
Alexandra is a major regional centre catering for visitors.
There is no public transport between Tallarook and Yea, nor between Cathkin and Alexandra.
For more flexible transport and hire services refer to the the bottom of the trail description.
This broad gauge branch line opened to Yea in 1883 and Mansfield in 1891. A further branch off from Cathkin reached Alexandra in 1909. The entire line closed in 1978 along with many other branch lines across Victoria. Apart frrom the Bonnie Doon bridge, which opened in 2000, the first major stage of the rail trail opened in August 2010. The entire trail was opened by Autumn 2012. In January 2014, branding as the Great Victorian Rail Trail was completed.
The trail is managed by the Shires of Mitchell, Murrindindi and Mansfield.