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Gippsland Plains Rail Trail - Trail Description

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Trail

Gippsland Plains Rail Trail

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Type: Rail trail
Location: Near Traralgon Gippsland, 190km east of Melbourne
Start/end: Stratford to Traralgon
Status: Open
Length open: 63km
Surface: Coarse gravel, Fine gravel
Terrain: Flat
Best seasons: All
Public transport: Train
Features: tourist
Contact Region: Gippsland, Victoria
Enjoying the rail trail near Glengary (2014)
Enjoying the rail trail near Glengary (2014)
Suitable for walking Suitable for cycling mountain bikes Suitable for cycling touring hybrid bikes Suitable for horse riding
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Details

Features

  • This trail passes through generally flat dairy farm country with views of the Great Dividing Range.
  • The trail surface is fairly smooth gravel though it can be soft in some of the newer sections when wet.
  • You can access the trail by train from Melbourne at Stratford or Traralgon, so it is possible to ride one way and return by train.

Support Services

Happy Days Accommodation

Budget and short term cabin accomodation in Tinamba

The Mill House Bed & BreakfastThe Mill House Logo web

Cosy B&B accommodation close to the Rail Trail

 

Montford Manor logo webMontfort Manor B&B

Situated on 7.5 acres of superbly landscaped gardens just 4km from Traralgon’s CBD.

 

Maffra Lodge Hostel logo webMaffra Lodge / Guest House

Centrally located in the heart of town with supermarkets, pubs, takeaway and public transport, all within walking distance.

 

 

Snowy River Cycling logo webSnowy River Cycling

Fully supported rail trail tours

 

 

 

 

Description

Access Points

  • Stratford - Apex Park by the Avon River.
  • Maffra - Macalister River Park, beside the Macalister River. A trail joins the rail trail beside the Macalister RIver road bridge.
  • Tinamba - Maffra - Rosedale Rd.
  • Heyfield - Heyfield wetlands centre on western edge of town.
  • Cowwarr - 50m west of the town on the Traralgon-Maffra Rd.
  • Toongabbie - Corner of Stringer Rd and Traralgon-Maffra Rd.
  • Glengarry - old railway station, 200m along Main St opposite hotel.
  • Traralgon - East side of Maffra Rd near the Marshalls Rd interesection.

Stratford to Maffra (10km)

  • The trail commences in Statford's Apex Park, beside the Avon river. The trail goes under the Princess Hwy to a shared path that runs besider the highway until it reaches the main Railway line.
  • The trail then continues alongside the working rail line until you reach the old branch line.
  • The trail crosses the Maffra - Stratford Road and goes up a steep ramp onto the original railway embankment on the south side of the road.
  • The trail head at Maffra is at the "Gippsland Vehicle Collection".
  • Continue onto the main street (Johnson Street) and through the CBD.

Stratford is a small town with basic visitors facilities, including cafes and restaurants.

Maffra is a regional centre with numerous facilities for visitors, including cafes and restaurants.

Maffra to Tinamba (8km)

  • Leaving Maffra the trail rejoins Johnson St at the Macalister River Bridge.
  • The trail passes through a delightful wetland and forest on route to Tinamba.
  • The trail has an excellent surface and crosses a number of restored creek crossings.

Tinamba is a small town with minimal facilities, although it has cafe and restaurant in the town.

Tinamba to Heyfield (9.5km)

  • From Tinamba the trail extends on an excellent gravel surface for 3km to McKinnons Rd.
  • The next 6.5km to Heyfield is on a rougher surface but suitable for hybrid bikes.

Heyfield to Cowwarr (11km)

 This section has not been fully developed and includes a 5 km on-road section on quiet roads.

  • On the western side of Heyfield, the trail travels several hundred metres down quiet Racecourse Rd then continues over the Heyfield – Seaton Rd towards Dawson. The former Dawson Railway Siding is now a flora reserve.
  • There is currently no rail trail bridge over the Thompson River. A signposted on-road route uses quiet back roads.
  • The trail detours on-road at Dawson Rd, continue on Dawson Rd until you reach the T-intersection with the Cowwar-Seaton Rd turn left into the Cowwar-Seaton Rd and then left again at the next T-intersection into Cowwar-Heyfield Rd. Continue along Cowwar-Heyfield Rd for less than 1 km and then rejoin the rail trail (turn left into the trail)
  • The trail re-commences at the Cowwarr – Heyfield Rd. There is a bridge across the Rainbow Creek. The trail continues a short distance into Cowwarr where there is a hotel and general store. The station platform can be seen 150m along the trail.

Cowwarr is a small town with a general store and cafe.

Cowwarr to Toongabbie (9km)

This section is well developed, and features peaceful car-free riding through dairy country.

  • At Cowwarr, the station platform can be seen 150m along the trail
  • Several original bridges remain in place.
  • As the trail continues south west towards Toongabbie, you will need to dismount to get through some steel gates
  • About 6km from Cowwarr the path crosses a deep gorge with stone walls and steel barricades.  These barriers were installed in the 1950's to slow down the erosive effects of the Fells Creek

Toongabbie to Glengarry (9km)

This section is fully developed and complete.

  • Toongabbie is a small town with only one store, refer Sponsored Links below.
  • The trail continue south to Glengarry, through a high quality patch of remnant native grassland, with wildflowers in Spring.
  • There is a low level crossing accross the Eaglehawk Creek, and this section finishes at the old Glengarry Railway Station. This is the only public building still remaining on the rail trail and includes the station platform, toilet and small goods shed.
  • A loading crane in the station precinct was sourced from Rosedale Station, after the originial was removed following the cessation of rail services. The crane was used for loading goods sent to Melbourne.
  • Glengarry is a small town with a general store, bakery, pub and barbeque area with a playground.

Glengarry to Traralgon (10km)

The newest section includes an impressively long embankment and four bridges accross the Latrobe river and its floodplain. The bridges have been constructed utilising the old bridge trusses and pylons, with new hand rail and walkway structures built accross them.

  • There are picturesque views accross the Latrobe floodplain and adjoining farmland through this section.
  • There is a rail trail car park at Burnetts Rd, 2 kms north of the Princess Hwy. Some maps may not include Burnetts Rd so look for the brown Vinyard sign
  • The trail finishes at Marshalls Rd, half a km before the Pincess Hwy.
  • Traralgon is a large regional town, servicing the Latrobe Valley, with a shopping plazza, fast food outlets, and numerous accomodation choices.

For more information on this trail see the 2015 e-book Rail Trails of Victoria.

Background Information

The line from Traralgon to Stratford via Maffra was built in 1883, and served as an alternative route to East Gippsland.   It was very busy until the 1950's carrying sugar beet from Maffra, and timber from Heyfield. In its later years, the main purpose of the line was servicing the dairy industry in the Maffra area.  The line closed in stages, the first stage being Traralgon to Cowwarr in 1986, and then Cowwarr to Maffra in 1994.  The rails were pulled up shortly after.

The first section of the rail trail opened in 2005 and it was fully opened in 2014, except for a diversion between Cowwarr and Dawson.

VLine run passenger train services from Melbourne to Bairnsdale via Traralgon, Sale and Stratford.

Links

To report any issues on the rail trail or for further information contact

Gippsland Plains Rail Trail Committee of Management - 7 Park Av, Cowwarr.  Ph: (03) 5148 9214

www.gippslandplainsrailtrail.com.au

Traralgon Visitor Information Ph: 1800 621 409

Navigate this trail on your phone or tablet with the Cylewayz App

cyclewayz logo 02 web

Rail Trails Australia has worked with Cyclewayz to provide this trail as a free download. With the app you can navigate point by point and view details and photos of points of interest.

Apple Store google play badge

Support Services and Attractions

Rail Trail Inn - Toongabbie - Toongabbie's general store and cafe

Accommodation

Many people ask about accommodation on Gippsland rail trails because they are so long and often demand multi-day travelling. Unfortunately maintaining lists of accommodation near rail trails is beyond the scope of the volunteer capacity of Rail Trails Australia. There are many other resources available for finding accommodation of all kinds in all places. When searching, simply use keywords including the towns through which your chosen rail trail passes, and you should find plenty of options.

June 2016

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

Contact Us About This Trail

Email or click here: gippsland@railtrails.org.au.

Photos

Comments

Comments

9 comments

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02 February , 2017 by Tezza

My wife and I caught the V line to Traralgon, no issues, then difficult to find the start. of the trail. Glengarry for great coffee and yummy cake. Friendly town.On to Heyfield for a night at the Commercial Hotel. Excellent choice. Good grub and again friendly locals. Hope they get their wishes for the continuation of the hardwood timber industry. On to Maffra ,then Stratford for the train back to the city. Again , no worries with V line.The trail was good but needs constant upkeep with the wind blowing branches into your face due to new growth from the local edging shrubs. Signage was a bit hit and miss coming into Heyfield and again into Stratford. Resurfacing was evident and welcome as the track gets worn down to sand. Great work from the volunteers that maintain the trail. The crossings seem to be no problem if yyou slow a bit, same as other rail trails but , thankfully, no bollards at driveways.

15 February , 2016 by Mak

Rode this Trail on 13/2/16 Traralgon->Stratford and return on 14/2/16. I found the trail to be very flat but does have some challenging sections around Heyfield. I had a trailer with our camping gear so the constant barricades were a bit off a pain although some had b-lines that could be navigated. The trail looked due for a bit of maintenance with a number of weeds coming through so hopefully this doesn't get out of hand. The Dawson disconnect roads were very quiet. Overall a nice way to spend the weekend. https://www.strava.com/activities/492162934 https://www.strava.com/activities/492981034

16 August , 2015 by matchstick

It it is a fantastic environment, rode a part of it yesterday. However, the barricades/chicanes were a serious problem. I crashed trying to ride through one of them, luckily no damage. I see other people have commented on them as well. My thoughts go out anyone disabled especially if they don’t have a standard bike. Even if they can ride independently on roads they will need someone to help them out on the trail. It would be far better if the trail met contemporary accessibility standards.

31 March , 2015 by cascho

I rode the section between Heyfield and Stratford today (Tuesday 31st March 2015) to complete this trail. This section, between Heyfield and Stratford is much better than the trail between Traralgon and Heyfield. The trail quality is excellent, with only some sandy sections and machinery tyre churn up just outside of Heyfield – again the chicanes are too narrow. The surrounding farmland makes for a pleasant ride – with good distances between the towns. I had no issue riding through the centre of Maffra, with all of the vehicles giving me plenty of room on the road. It was a great day for a ride, pity about the haze.

29 March , 2015 by cascho

I rode this trail from Traralgon to Heyfield and back yesterday (March 28th 2015). The trail has some great scenery attached to it. Heading north you get a great view of the Alps in the distance, while heading south you get the power station and Latrobe valley. I parked the car at the Burnetts Rd carpark, rode to Heyfield for lunch before returning. The only real hill in the whole section is just on the outside of Heyfield. The road detour between Cowwarr and Heyfield is no issue, as the few cars that passed me gave a wide berth. The two biggest issues I had are the trail surface and the chicanes! Between Traralgon and Cowwarr the surface is coarse gravel, while between Dawson and Heyfield it is sandy – this made it hard to build and maintain speed. While the chicane’s at the road crossings are far too narrow and long. It is impossible to ride through them, and every time I had to be careful not to snag a pedal. Overall a good day out.

22 October , 2014 by Gary

I rode from Stratford to Traralgon yesterday 21 Oct 2014. A long day leaving Geelong at about 0500 and arriving back in Geelong at about 2000. I had no trouble taking my bike on the V Line Train services. An excellent ride most of the way with great scenery of mountains and farm land. Farmers and towns people were very friendly all the way. Magpies were irate with me riding past their home. A snake sunning it's self on the edge of the trail was very agitated when I startled it. The grass is currently very long in places leaving only a narrow strip of gravel surface. It is being controlled but will take some time to complete. In some areas horses have left deep ruts. It would be good if horse riders would ride in the centre of the trail and leave both sides for bike riders. Several locations have Blackberries creeping out onto the trail surface. This will need attention quickly to avoid punctures and injuries. All Stations have signs however, a brief history of the site is required, eg, what was transported in and out of this station, and how flood effect the railway. All Station Sites were very nicely kept with plenty of shady rest areas. Great bridges across the Latrobe River and Flood Plain. Pity that the Thomson River section is yet to be completed, but no doubt it is in the planning. Overall, an interesting day, not too hard, and easily accessible from Melbourne. Quite an achievement for this sixty plus fella on a warm day. Highly recommended. Cheers.

26 May , 2014 by Cornwell

I've been waiting and signing petitions for this trail for a long time now. We finally did it on Saturday 24th May. We live in Stratford. Caught the first train to Traralgon, met friends there then rode back to Stratty. They stayed the night at ours then caught the train home on Sunday morning. FANTASTIC. We had a brilliant day and it was nice to see the Boggy Ck crossing fixed (until the next flood) Next stage a trail beside the train track to Bairnsdale? Then you could link up with East Gippsland R/T and go all the way to Orbost.

19 May , 2014 by parvier

Just completed the full length of this great trail from Stratford to Traralgon. Generally good surface conditions the whole way and the newly opened section from Glengarry to Traralgon is superb. Many of the chicanes at the road crossings are very tight and almost impossible to negotiate without dismounting. A little more bike friendly would be appreciated. Some better signage to find the trail start/finish points at each end would be very useful. Also a bit tricky to find our way through Maffra. We caught the morning train from Traralgon to Stratford which gets in a bit late (1030am) to comfortably do the whole ride in a day. Doing the ride first and getting the train back might be a better option. V Line can in theory refuse to take bikes if not enough room in the guards van but the very helpful station staff and guard juggled 4 bikes into the limited space available along with all the other passengers luggage. Perhaps an extra luggage van on the train as bike numbers grow? Also need to make special mention of the lovely little town of Tinamba (halfway between Maffra and Heyfield) that doesn't get a mention on the official trail description. Great country store with very friendly and helpful staff with a good selection of hot and cold food, coffees, snacks, newspapers, post office etc. Only 100m from the trail. The town also has a pub and a B&B.

15 January , 2013 by elfarol

I did this ride on the 13th of Jan, 2013. We started in Stratford with the intended end in Glengarry. The trail from Stratford to Heyfield was excellent, except for Tinamba to Traralgon-Maffra Road stretch where the track was half washed away with a rut big enough to break your bike. Heyfield to Cowwar via back roads was a very easy ride. Would recommend the back roads as the main road parts have a relatively high traffic flow with no shoulder room. The track from Cowwar to Glengarry was by far the worst part. Track was over grown with blackberry bushes, I'm sporting a nice set of new scratches, parts of the track had washed away with the drainage underneath showing. The good thing though, the track areas a few km on each side of Toongabbie was fantastic, the locals obviously caring for it. An even better thing is at the time of riding new gravel was being laid about 6km north of Glengarry heading towards Cowwar. I'd recommend this ride if they can improve the track significantly, and by look of the news section they are, from Glengarry to Cowwar. It would be even better if they can work on a set shoulder of the main road from Heyfield to Cowwar to encourage completing the full trail in a day.

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News

News

Gippsland Plains Rail Trail (Vic) Fully Open

(Posted: 13/05/14)

Victoria's Gippsland Plains Rail Trail is now fully open beween Traralgon and Straford

More...

Opening of Gippsland Plains Rail Trail (Vic)

(Posted: 30/04/14)

Celebrate Victoria's Gippsland Plains Rail Trail opening on 11 May

More...

Gippsland Plains RT Receives Funding For Completion (VIC)

(Posted: 30/10/13)

Regional Growth Fund delivers $600,000 boost to complete Gippsland Plains Rail Trail.

More...

Funding for the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail

(Posted: 04/06/13)

 

The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail received a boost towards the development of the trail on Friday 31st May 2013

More...

Surface upgrade on Gippsland Plains Rail Trail

(Posted: 02/04/13)

The trail surface on the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail from Glengarry to Cowwarr
has been upgraded.

More...

More Funding for the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail (VIC)

(Posted: 19/10/12)

$200,000 FOR GIPPSLAND PLAINS RAIL TRAIL – STAGE 1 More...

Funding for Gippsland Plains Rail Trail (VIC)

(Posted: 02/07/11)

Gippsland Plains RailTrail is granted $800,000 in funding.

More...

State Budget Delivers for Gippland Plains Rail Trail (VIC)

(Posted: 06/05/11)

State government funding allows for completion of the Rail Trail.

More...

Opening of Gippsland Plains Rail Trail on October 1st

(Posted: 13/09/05)

The opening of the Maffra to Stratford section of the Gippsland Plains rail trail will occur on Saturday 1st of October 2005. The trail is in Gippsland, Victoria. More...