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Further to the original item below, as of the 9th of January 2007 the East Gippsland Rail Trail Committee of Management advise that the rail trail is temporarily closed between Nicholson and Bruthen due to fires. More details at their website.

The committee of the East Gippsland Rail Trail in eastern Victoria offer the following reminder that using rail trails in rural environments during our hot, dry summers requires some extra thought and preparation.

This is particularly so with the present extreme bushfire situation in South Eastern Australia.

"We offer the following note as one angle, which is not aimed at scaring visitors from our rural regions but helping them more fully enjoy any excursion into the country side during what is turning out to be a very tough summer for rural communities.

People contemplating a visit to enjoy the relaxing and diverse environments of rail trails are strongly advised to exercise all due care and caution when venturing into areas which are under a current high fire risk alert, or at any time during the coming months with the extreme dry weather conditions now affecting nearly all rail trails and their nearby landscapes.

Cyclists in particular are likely to NOT be wearing clothing considered suitable for personal body protection in a bush fire event so are also advised to use caution on this account. Natural fibre clothing and full body covering is essential for protection from radiant heat in a bush fire situation. Heavy smoke can also cause confusion and disorientation when in an off-road environment.

Some longer rail trails involve sections and distances which can be isolated from major roads. Travel on longer and more bushland or forested rail trails is best done in mild weather conditions. High wind and high temperature days are best avoided for personal comfort and safety reasons.

When-ever traveling on any rail trail in summer conditions it is imperative that sufficient water is carried, sunscreen protection is used, a mobile phone and even a small portable radio carried tuned to a local ABC information station. Always tell a friend where you will be traveling and check in at the end of the day."

Local weather conditions can be checked on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

The ABC has conveniently compiled a list of state fire websites.