Rail Trails of Victoria and South Australia is now available

The new edition has just come back from the printers. We are posting copies today (12/12/2001) to everyone who preordered.

It is not too late to get a copy for Christmas. Order this week and (subject to postage delays) we will do our best to get copies out before the 25th. Full details are available in the Guides section of the web site.


Railtrails volunteers preparing envelopes.
Railtrails volunteers preparing envelopes. Michael Oxer


Packing the book
Packing the book Michael Oxer


Books ready to go!
Books ready to go! Michael Oxer

“Rail Trail” or “Railtrail” – what’s in a name?

How do you spell “rail trail” anyway? (Does anyone care?)

Three years ago, the Railtrails Australia committee discussed how to spell “rail trail”. You might suggest that there are more important things to discuss, but we needed a consistent spelling. Is it “rail trail”, “railtrail” or even “rail-trail”?

At the time it was decided that we preferred it spelt as a single word after all “railway” is one word, so why not “railtrail”? It was hoped that with incrased usage this a single word spelling would increase its chances of being adopted into the dictionary.

Unfortunately we were in the minority and the “rail trail” spelling has become the defacto standard, so moving with the times we have now adopted “rail trail” as our standard spelling.


New Edition of Rail Trails of Victoria and South Australia

A new edition of our Victorian Rail Trail Guidebook will soon be available. The new guide has been fully revised with improved layout, new photos and revised maps. This edition also includes the three main rail trails in South Australia.

Like the first edition, the book is an easy to carry A5 size with a wire binding.

It will retail for $32.95, but a pre-publication discount of $29.95 with free postage is available until 9 November 2001. (Prices include GST.)

Full details are available in the Guides section of the web site.


Brisbane River Valley Rail Trail At Critical Stage

Railtrails Australia has been monitoring the possibility of a rail trail along at least part of the historic Brisbane River Valley railway. In 1998 we reported the destruction of several low level heavy timber bridges on the northern section and last year discovered the Shire of Esk had an intense interest in opening the 7 km section between Fernvale to Lowood, 39km south of Esk and near the vast Wivenhoe Reservoir.

Timber trestle bridge near Lowood on the planned Fernvale – Lowood rail trail. There is agreement with adjacent landowners to take the trail via a roadway under the bridge and leave the structure untouched. This will also reduce development costs. Photo credit: Michael Oxer

RA President Michael Oxer has made several exploratory visits along the line and provided information to Council representatives to assist their efforts. This August he met with Councillor June Bray and CEO Warren Oxnam to discuss developments. Following that meeting he made representations to the offices of two Queensland Government Ministers and secured a meeting with Mr Ross MacLeod, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Minister for Environment.

Michael reports that in establishing meetings with government officials he found a copy of the RA Railtrails of Victoria guidebook served as a quick and graphical way of introducing the matters he wanted to discuss and helped gain interest and support.

The Esk Shire needs assistance with ‘on the ground’ coordination of a number of elements involved in the project. A number of government authorities need to be actively involved and focussing that effort is now critical. Local support is reported to be growing and several difficulties along the Fernvale to Lowood section involving old timber trestle bridges have been resolved with neighbouring landowners. A growing number of local folk are using parts of the line for walking but until rails and sleepers are lifted and the track surface prepared bicycle riding is not an option.

Just out of Lowood on the planned Fernvale – Lowood rail trail and high above the broad Brisbane River (to the left) is a one sided cutting stabilised with rough rock and brick walling. The rails on this short section will be left in place for historic reasons with the trail on the side. A second rail was added inside the curve to reduce derailments. Photo credit: Michael Oxer

We are hoping that through the good offices and support of the Minister for Environment, Honorable Dean Wells, this potentially fine rail trail will soon become a reality, bring local tourism benefits and provide a new use for a very old route between two fascinating Queensland country towns alongside the Brisbane River.


Victorian Trail Developments

There have been developments on a number of Victorian trails in recent months. A quick round up:

  • Murray to the Mountains – Work is nearing completion on this trail. Currently the trail is open between Myrtleford and Bright and Everton to Beechworth. When completed, the trail will be Australia’s longest rail trail running for 81 km from Wangaratta to Bright with a 16 km branch to Beechworth. An official opening is planned around November.
  • Old Beechy Rail Trail – A very picturesque trail in the Otways, works have started on clearing and surfacing. It is eventually planned to have a continuous trail all the way from Colac to Crowes near the Great Ocean Road.
  • Gippsland Plains Rail Trail – The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail follows the route of the former railway from Taralgon to Stratford. The entire 67 km right-of-way has now been signed over to a Committee of Management. Much of the trail has now been cleared of ballast and it is hoped to have a section open to the public by early next year.
  • Ballarat to Skipton Trail – Work continues to remove illegal fencing across the trail (which has been a particular problem for the trail’s committee of management). Works are currently under way to construct a low level crossing across the Woady Yallock Creek (the site of the large Nimons Trestle Bridge) and to provide seating.
  • Great Southern Rail Trail – Ballast has now been cleared from the trail on the 28 km section between Stony Creek and Foster. Although not officially open, this section is now accessible to the public. The surface is still fairly rough and is suitable for walking and experienced cyclists.
  • Tallarook to Alexandra – A study has been completed into the creation of a rail trail from Tallarook (near Seymour) to Alexandra. A short section is already accessible at Yea, while two sections of the branch to Mansfield are accessible at Bonnie Doon and Mansfield.

Treasurer for Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail

At the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of the Lilydale to Warburton Trail last week, the position of Treasurer was not filled. If would consider helping in this capacity, please contact Arthur Francis (president) on 9725 7074 or joarth@redcentre.com. Committee meetings are held at a location in the Yarra Valley.


Warburton Trail Photographic Competition

This year the railway form Lilydale to Warburton celebrates its centenary. While the railway is no longer with us, the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail provides a link to the past.

To celebrate the centenary, the Friends of the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail are holding a photographic competition. Entries may be made in the following categories:

  • Landscape
  • Activities
  • Historical/Heritage

Warburton Landscape near the Woori Yallock (Alexander McCooke) The Warburton Train (Courtesy ARHS Archives)

Each category has a colour and black and white section. Winners in each section will receive a Centenary Award. There is also a Grand Award.

Print sizes in each category (including mount): 6×4 – 8×6 inches or 10×8 – 20×16 inches.

Maximum 4 prints per entrant per category. Only non-professional photographers may enter. All images must be identified with a location. The Friends reserve the right to reproduce any of the entries without seeking authorisation from the participants.

Entries close Monday 15 October 2001.

Please use the entry form below.

(Click on the form to open in a new window for printing.)

Historical photograph courtesy ARHS archives.


Great Southern Rail Trail (Vic)

The Great Southern Rail Trail have a new information brochure. It is available by writing to:

Friends of The Great Southern Rail Trail,
P.O. Box 521, Leongatha, Victoria, 3953.


New uses for closed lines (Vic)

The Age of 26 June reports that the Victorian Government plans to use railway corridors for the roll-out of cable for broadband networks.

Linear railway corridors are ideal to allow cable to access centres around regional and rural Victoria. Initially the government plans to lay cable on routes to be upgraded with fast passenger services.

Eventually this may extend to closed railway corridors – both current rail trails and future trails. There is great potential for new rail trails to be created as part of the cable laying process and for cable companies to provide on-going funding to current trails where it uses their corridor.

The article from The Age can be read at: on the web.


Bellarine Peninsular Rail Trail Update (Vic)

Information courtesy of the Bellarine Peninsula Railway.

The Bellarine Peninsula Rail Trail runs from the outskirts of Geelong to the sea-side town of Queenscliff. From Drysdale to Queenscliff it parallels the Bellarine Peninsula Tourist Railway.

Drysdale rail station is now complete with a kiosk which is open on train running days. Hot/cold drinks and snacks are available. Information and maps of nearby attractions are also stocked.

Due to incomplete signage, the trail is difficult to follow from the Geelong direction when approaching Drysdale. Cyclists and walkers should cross High St then follow the fence along the rear of station platform. A small grey building is then visible (toilets) to the left about 50 meters beyond the main station building. Proceed along the left side of this grey block to pick up the trail running parallel to Station St. Signage is in place the rest of the way.

Note that horses are not permitted on the trail between Drysdale and Queenscliff. Also, the railway requests that cyclists and walkers do not enter the railway yards at Queenscliff or Drysdale. These areas are off limits to the public and are potentially hazardous.

The Bellarine Peninsula Railway caters for bikes on all it’s trains, Bike tickets are just $3. Trains run every Sunday, most public holidays, Tuesdays and Thursdays during school holidays. Trains depart:

  • From Drysdale to Queenscliff at 12.15pm(return) and 3.30pm (one way)
  • From Queenscliff to Drysdale at 11.15am and 2.30pm (both return trips)

Trains will stop to pick up/set down at ‘Lakers Siding’, ‘Ward Road’ or ‘Suma Park’ on request to station staff. An intensive service runs over Christmas/New Year (daily). At Christmas and Easter a different timetable operates, phone (03) 5258 2069 or (03) 52 513725 or visit the railway’s web site.

Special train on the Bellarine Peninsular Tourist Railway.
Special train on the Bellarine Peninsular Tourist Railway. Photo credit: Alexander McCooke