Great Rides. Great Walks. Great Art. Rediscover the Great Victorian Rail Trail.
Posted on 16/12/23
The Great Victorian Rail Trail runs from Tallarook to Mansfield in Victoria’s High Country. This easily accessible, varied and unique rail trail offers close proximity to heritage classified rivers, majestic valleys, lakes and mountains.
Whatever your ability, at 134 km the trail has options for everyone – from a short walk or ride, to a multi-day adventure, with plenty to see and do along the way.
Explore a journey of artistic discovery through beautiful Taungurung Country
In May this year, Art on the Great Victorian Rail Trail was officially opened. The joint initiative between Mitchell, Murrindindi and Mansfield Shire Councils, funded through the Victorian Government’s Regional Tourism Investment Fund, has seen seven large-scale artworks and a series of smaller works placed along the length of the trail.
Installation of new wayfinding and interpretative signage as part of the project has also enhanced the overall trail experience, sharing First Peoples stories and information and connecting people with sites along the trail.
Taking inspiration from the theme of ‘connections’, eight artists have created pieces based on connection to Country, connection to the local environment, connection to the history of the trail and connection to community.
One of the artists is Taungurung Elder Mick Harding, who has created a series of 20 scar trees along the trail. Mick and his sons Mitchil and Corey removed sections of bark from eucalypts and carved symbols into them to articulate their relationship to their Ancestors and Country.
The work draws on traditional tree scarring practised by many First Nations peoples from the south-east of Australia.
Taungurung people have been removing the bark from trees for various purposes such as baby carriers, food collection vessels and canoes for at least 2000 generations. The trees will heal over time, leaving a lasting marker of the continued connection of First Nations people to Country.
You really need to get out on the trail to experience the full scale and impact behind the art installations, but here’s a short description of each to get you inspired.
Nook by Donna Marcus (Site A)
‘Things is crook in Tallarook’, an Australian colloquialism, speaks to a time when ‘making-do’ with great ingenuity and resourcefulness was a necessity. Inspired by the making of cotton-reel bush furniture, fabricated ‘bowls’ are joined to shape the sentinel forms.
Traces by Yu-Fang Chi (Site B)
Traces explores the forms of native plants, flora, and the environmental impact on this land. Inspired by the impression of natural elements and local plants, the work responds to the simple, organic shape of a seed as the key, to reveal the idea of growing and transition.
Mirnong by Christabel Wigley (Site C)
For thousands of years the Kulin Women used cool fire and aeration of the soil to grow Mirnong (Yam Daisy) and other useful plants. This trio of structures acts as carriers for lost stories, knowledge and shared languages.
Soul Train by Louise Paramor (Site D)
Soul Train is suggestive of the engine car of a steam train and hints at the growth of industry and agriculture. It is designed to celebrate the rail history of the area in the form of a surprising and colourful folly.
Memory Palace 1 & 2 by Tai Snaith (Site E)
Memory Palace 1 & 2 are inspired by the psychological process of Memory Palaces or Method of Loci, a method of recalling physical markers in a space to remember information and create meaning, and are designed to interact with.
Remnant by Cara Johnson (Site F)
An iron tracing of a branch from a drowned tree, found washed up on the shoreline of Lake Eildon. In time the trees still standing in the lake will be consumed by the water, but this iron tracing will remain. Its hollowness holding a memory of what was here.
Responding by Robbie Rowlands (Site G)
Responding consists of a 39m mobile phone tower that gracefully arches over the trail. In their usual display, phone towers sit at heights well above the landscape or our built environments. Here, the tower appears animated, falling close to the ground as if bowing to meet us.
We Scar Many Trees (Sites T)
The Taungurung people have been removing bark from trees to use for various purposes for at least 2000 generations. The scar tree carvings symbolise the Taungurung relationship to Warring (Goulburn River) and its associated rivers, creeks and Ngarrak (Mountains).
For more information on the Great Victorian Rail Trail, including accommodation options, transportation services and things to see and do along and surrounding the trail, visit www.greatvictorianrailtrail.com.au