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Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail - Trail Description



Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail

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Type: Rail trail
Location: 110km north west of Melbourne
Start/end: Ballarat to Skipton
Status: Open
Length open: 57km
Surface: Fine gravel
Terrain: Hilly
Best seasons: Dry Seasons
Public transport: Train, Coach
Features: tourist
Contact Region: Western Victoria
Nimon's Bridge near Newtown (2009)
Nimon's Bridge near Newtown (2009)
Suitable for walking Suitable for cycling mountain bikes Suitable for cycling touring hybrid bikes



  • This trail goes through significant remnant native grasslands.
  • The area is well known for its historical gold mining sites.
  • An impressive trestle bridge near Newtown is open for trail users.

History boards with trail information are sited at various points along the trail.

Support Services

LintonBikeHire Logo web 

Linton Bike Hire

 Bike hire, spare parts, transport and great food for all users of the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail.



Start Points

Ballarat - The trail is signposted from Wendouree Station. You can also start next to the rail crossing on Ring Rd.

Pittong - The trail starts near the Kaolin works on the Pittong - Snake Valley Rd, not far from the Glenelg Hwy.

Skipton - start at the old station grounds on the southern side of town accessed from the Geelong - Skipton Rd.

Ballarat to Smythesdale (20km)

  • The trail can be accessed from south of the new, operative railway station at Lake Wendouree, Ballarat on Wendouree Parade, then go along Gregory Street west to Ring Rd, where the trail officially starts. (BalBug website has a map with directions from Ballarat Station, which can be accessed via our link). It then heads south where it crosses the Ballarat to Burrumbeet Rd (Avenue of Honour). Bordered by pine and cypress trees the trail contines on to the old Kopke station site, a large gold rush settlement.
  • Haddon is the next station site and is surrounded by native grasslands.
  • Nintingbool siding is the last site before Smythesdale. Between Smythesdale and Scarsdale you may wish to visit the Chinese graves in the cemetry.
  • At Smythesdale, detour around the sports oval constructed across the old railway.

Smythesdale to Linton (17km)

  • After Newtown, the trail crosses Pitfield Rd and turns west and continues alongside the original cutting.
  • At the end of the cutting the trail crosses Nimons bridge, a large restored trestle bridge. A low level bridge is also in place for horses.
  • A couple of kilometres further on another timber bridge crosses Sawpit Gully Rd, then the Sanctuary Dam (the Bird Paddock) is passed. Just before Linton, detour around another bridge.

Linton to Skipton (20km)

  • From Linton the trail gradually climbs into the Linton State Forest.
  • At Pittong the trail emerges from bushland and crosses the Pittong–Snake Valley Rd.
  • The final 5km into Skipton follows the Glenelg Hwy and ends 1km outside the town.
  • The trail finishes at the former Skipton station.

Background Information

The former railway line to Skipton was opened to Scarsdale in 1883, Linton in 1890 and Skipton in 1916.

Passengers and general freight were carried until 1976, then seasonal freight (grain and kaolin mined from weathered granite) until the line was closed in 1986. Scarsdale, the first terminus of the line, had a peak of 20,000 passenger journeys in 1890. Newtown was the junction of the Cressy and Colac line (1911 – 1953)


The trail's committee of management is formed by the following municipalities:

If you have difficulties with the trail contact one of the Shires.

Support Services and Attractions 

Download a brochure for the rail trail here.

Goldfields Bike Tours & Hire - Unique opportunity to experience hybrid or E-bike riding to explore the rail trails and in conjunction with our air conditioned bus and 15-bike trailer.

Welcome Nugget Bike Hire - Why walk?  When you can ride.

November 2017

To advertise your rail trail support business on this page, please click here.

Contact Us About This Trail

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08 January , 2019 by

3/27 6th Jan 2019. 3rd Rail Trail completed in my quest to ride every RT in Victoria this year. I left my car in Skipton and was able to get a lift to Ballarat from friends I started at the Ring Road which is a nondescript starting point. I thought the Ballarat to Skipton direction would be easier as it was more downhill, but there was a bit of a headwind all the way, so the advantage was cancelled out. The path was very good hard-packed gravel in most places, and it has signage the entire way counting down the kms - a credit to the people involved who installed them. I stopped at Linton Station for lunch, a very nice stopping point. You can follow my exploits completing this challenge on FB Warwick Duncan - The 2nd Chance Man or Insta @warwick_rides

07 October , 2018 by Mal

I rode the trail on 1st October. It was in great condition, and could easily be ridden on a hybrid or road bike, with a little care in places. The magpies were in good form! I was swooped ten times along the trail, with three or four quite determined attacks!! They should be less of a problem in a couple of weeks. The countryside looked lovely, and I had a really pleasant ride. There's places along the route to get a snack or coffee, in Smythesdale, Linton or Skipton.

17 May , 2018 by CycleAustralia2014

The ultra bright 1000 lumen lamp attached to my Ironhorse MTB illuminated the bleak opaque darkness as I cycled off into a cold misty morning to Sunshine train station for the 6.20am scheduled Ballarat service. Ballarat is 100 kilometres from Melbourne, with a population of roughly 100,000 people. The city, made famous by the gold rush of the 1850’s, was also the scene of the 1854 Eureka Stockade, an unsuccessful armed rebellion against our colonial overlords and their English masters. My train journey takes just over an hour. Chugging through a rich indigo morning the gradient rises gently revealing bucolic scenes. A couple of steely faced eastern grey kangaroos watch motionless as we pass. I expect them to wave, however, they turn suddenly bounding effortlessly along the fence line! From a chilly Ballarat station it’s a quick cycle out west of town along the Avenue of Honour, with a brief stop for breakfast at the Golden Nugget drive through bakery. Then I ride under the Arch of Victory, turning left onto the signposted compacted gravel path. It’s rained a tidy sky full this last week so the surface is a tad soft as I ride alongside fertile farming and sheep country. Its exciting to see a wide variety of bird species; plentiful, colourful and vocal. They accompany me all day. The trail itself is easy to navigate, but perhaps best suited to a mountain or hybrid bike. There is seating and covered shelters placed just off the trail at regular intervals. I pass alongside an old Chinese gold miner’s camp of mullock heaps, abandoned diggings, strewn with ancient rusticated mining equipment. I roll along at a gentle pace skirting former railway sidings in Smythesdale , Scarsdale then Newton before being rewarded with a spectacular view of Nimmons Trestle Bridge, where I pick up a sparkly handful of river sand that’s studded with gold flecks, fools gold ? The trail takes me into Linton State Park, through the Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary where I enjoy the sight of scarlet robins, eastern and crimson rosellas, while up above the treetops I see a wedge tail eagle circling its prey. Following the trail out past Pittong, I realise that I’m pushed for time if I want to make it back to Ballarat and my train home within daylight hours. I turn back 10 kilometres short of Skipton retracing my tracks, stopping too often to watch black cockatoos or brown falcons. A fantastic day spent cycling 90 of a possible 110 kilometres, out and back along a varied trail that is fun to ride in autumn, when nasty venomous black snakes are less active and vicious nesting magpies aren’t yet attacking innocent cyclists.

28 October , 2017 by Mal

I rode the entire trail yesterday. The surface was in excellent condition, and the countryside has never looked better! The magpies seem to have stopped swooping, as I didn't encounter any problems. Signage to both ends of the trail could be better, but online maps make it clear.

02 October , 2017 by philam

Great rail trail. As others have mentioned, the entrance at Wendouree is blocked off due to roadworks (due to finish June 2018 according to the sign). There are no signs or other measures to help path users get to the trail. You can ride along Blind Creek Road but it's an 80km/h speed limit with no shoulder. Other than the beginning, the trail past Scarsdale is very scenic. Be aware of the compacted gravel in the rain and lots of swooping magpies between Newtown and Ballarat.

03 May , 2017 by lintonBikeHire

The section of the trail between Ring Rd and Blind Creek Rd is currently closed due to major roadworks. You can either start at Lake Wendouree and use the roads to get access to the trail from Blind Creek Rd OR simply start at the entry at Blind Creek Rd. And I recommend stopping in at the cafe at Linton (88 Sussex St) for a coffee and a bite to eat :)

18 February , 2017 by

Rode the entire trail out to Skipton on Thursday 16th and back to Ballarat on Friday 17th February. Stayed overnight at the Skipton Roadhouse which has three cabins available for accomodation. The trail surface is very good - apart from a few little rain washouts on one side of the trail between Scarsdale and Newtown and a few rabbit burrows between Pittong and Skipton. Both the Scarsdale & Linton rest stops are nicely done with toilets, water and a bit of shade. Be prepared for a bit of a climb outbound from Linton... Great scenery and an awesome rail trail!

29 February , 2016 by abrafam

Rode this trail last Friday with a group of approx. 25 other riders. We commenced the ride after breakfast at Racers beside the lake. The trail was in really good condition with distance markers all along the way. The Nimron trestle bridge was one of the highlights. This is an easy ride for everyone.

29 September , 2015 by Ballarat Coachlines

This is a fantastic ride - due to popular demand Ballarat Coachlines are now running a shuttle service from Ballarat to Skipton twice a month on a Sunday morning from October to April. Groups can also charter a bus at any other time. Call 03 5335 5300.

02 January , 2015 by cascho

I rode this trail yesterday (1st January 2015) – and it is awesome, one of the best rail trails I have done. The track quality is fantastic for the entire length – with good views of the surrounding farmland and bush. The length of the trail is perfect, with the various towns at ideal distances from each other to make great rest stops but far enough apart to get the feel of being in the country. The vista of rolling downhill into Skipton through the farmlands with the rain clouds on the horizon was a perfect moment. Recommend the trail to everyone.

13 November , 2014 by kiv69

Ran every section of the rail trail during the Winter/early Spring. Track was in perfect condition for running and for my companion on bike. Highlight of the trail is the 3 legged dog at Nimmons Bridge who will run with you for a couple of km's.

13 September , 2014 by 

Rode the Skipton to Linton section and found it one of the most scenic rail trails I've done. Between Skipton and Pittong though I was reminded of the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Birds” being dive-bombed by magpies at least 6 times – must get a set of eyes for the helmet!

12 August , 2014 by Hords

Rode this last Saturday 09 Aug 2014 from Wendouree Station to Skipton and return to Ballarat station the following day. Would be good if it was sign posted at the station. The helpful VLine employee gave me instructions to the start but I learnt afterwards that it was the long way. I found the surface in good condition and the total ride time to Skipton was rday which made the track slower in sections. I did a 2.2 km lookout detour between Pittong and Linton. Was worth it but a steep climb. Would love to do this again once the weather warms.

12 August , 2014 by Hords

Rode this last Saturday 09 Aug 2014 from Wendouree Station to Skipton and return to Ballarat station the following day. Would be good if it was sign posted at the station. The helpful VLine employee gave me instructions to the start but I learnt afterwards that it was the long way. I found the surface in good condition and the total ride time to Skipton was rday which made the track slower in sections. I did a 2.2 km lookout detour between Pittong and Linton. Was worth it but a steep climb. Would love to do this again once the weather warms.

02 September , 2013 by zargyl

We did the trail yesterday - lovely. And love the half way point gathering space integrated with Lipton's park. However at both Skipton and Ballarat there is no clear entry to the trail. Ballarat in particular - it would be helpful if there were markers and a shared path from Ballarat station to connect it to the start of the trail. Is there a bus company who is prepared to shuttle riders (and their bikes) back from Skipton? That would be a great opportunity to develop for Skipton.

07 April , 2013 by jtyler

Rode it yesterday April 6 -surface is in the best condtion for years. Check out Skipton "art gallery" - just over the bridge - for lunch

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Reminder: Ballarat to Skipton Shuttle back for Summer (VIC)

(Posted: 14/01/10)

The Ballarat to Skipton Shuttle bus will run once a month, Jan to April.


Update Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail October 2008

(Posted: 21/11/08)

On the 29th October the newly resurfaced rail trail was opened. The complete distance of 54km has been widened and resurfaced. More...

Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail (Vic) - Fundraising Walk Run or Ride Event Coming Up

(Posted: 01/02/07)

Mark your calender for Saturday March 17 More...

Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail Opening (Vic)

(Posted: 19/05/04)

The Hon John Brumby MP, Minister for State and Regional Development opened the Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail on 12 March 2004. More...

Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail (Vic)

(Posted: 19/02/04)

The trail has recently gaining funding to run a 4th and final Community Jobs Program on the trail. More...

Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail (Vic)

(Posted: 05/09/03)

Recent works on the rail trail thanks to three Community Jobs Programs.


Ballarat to Skipton Update (Vic)

(Posted: 23/07/03)

Extensive renovation work has commenced on the Nimmons Bridge. More...

Victorian Trail Happenings

(Posted: 06/10/02)

Updates on the Murray to the Mountains, Ballarat to Skipton, Bunny and Powelltown Trails. More...

Victorian Trail Developments

(Posted: 14/08/01)

There have been developments a number of trails around Victoria.


Victorian Railtrail News Update

(Posted: 02/07/00)

Sealing of the East Gippsland Rail Trail is under way. Progress on the Ballarat Skipton Rail Trail.