Trail Open

Ballarat – Skipton Rail Trail

Victoria - West

4.2 based on 18 reviews
Location: 110km north west of Melbourne
Length: 57 km
Surface: Fine gravel
Start / End: Ballarat to Skipton
Public Transport: Coach, Train
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • Cycling – Touring and Hybrid BikesCycling – Touring and Hybrid Bikes
  • Horse RidingHorse Riding
  • PramsPrams
  • Scooters and Inline SkatesScooters and Inline Skates
  • WalkingWalking

Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
  • Mining sites
  • High standard trail with historic small townships of Smythesdale, Scarsdale and Linton providing points of interest and facilities
  • Visits Nimons Bridge, third tallest surviving timber trestle bridge in Victoria
  • History boards with trail information sited at various points

Attractions

  • Ballarat is Victoria’s largest inland city with many magnificent buildings from the gold-rush era
  • The childhood home of Sir Henry Bolte, Victoria’s longest-serving Premier, can be seen beside Emu Creek in the township of Skipton

Trail Guide

Overall description

  • Ballarat to Smythesdale is 20 km, from Wendouree railway station to the township of Smythesdale
  • Smythesdale to Linton is 17 km long and crosses historic goldfields and native grasslands
  • Linton to Skipton is 20 km long and features pleasant Australian bushland and a kaolin mine at Pittong

Ballarat is a major town with a wide range of services.

Emergency markers are located along the trail. In an emergency, call 000 and quote the emergency marker code where you are located.

 

Section Guides

Ballarat to Smythesdale (20 km)

  • The trail starts on Wendouree Parade south of  Wendouree railway station then runs on Gregory St west to Ring Rd, its officially starting point. It then heads south where it crosses the Ballarat to Burrumbeet road (Avenue of Honour). Bordered by pine and cypress trees the trail continues on to the old station site at Kopke, a large gold rush settlement
  • Haddon, the next station site, is surrounded by native grassland. A café at the local nursery provides refreshments
  • Nintingbool siding is the last site before Smythesdale. Between Smythesdale and Scarsdale you can visit the Chinese graves in the cemetery
  • At Smythesdale, detour around the sports oval built across the old railway
  • Smythesdale is a historic gold mining village dating from the 1850s. It has a

Smythesdale to Linton (17 km)

  • After skirting the sports oval at Smythesdale, the trail crosses the Glenelg Highway and continues to Scarsdale
  • Scarsdale is a small village with public toilets on the trail
  • After crossing the Lismore-Scarsdale road, the trail continues to Nimons bridge, a large restored trestle bridge. There is a ground for horses
  • the trail then runs beside the Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary through attractive forest
  • Linton is a small village with public toilets and a general store

Linton to Skipton (20 km)

  • The trail gradually climbs into Linton State Forest
  • At Pittong the trail emerges from bushland and crosses the Pittong–Snake Valley road
  • The last 5 km into Skipton follows the Glenelg Hwy and ends near the recreation reserve at the site of the former Skipton station
  • Skipton has a range of services including a small supermarket, café, roadhouse and accommodation

Background Information

Traditional owners

We acknowledge the Wadawurrung people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.

Development and future of the rail trail

Railway history

The 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).

No services listed for this rail trail.

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18 reviews of “Ballarat – Skipton Rail Trail”

Rode from the impressive Nimon’s bridge near Newtown back to Lucas on the outskirts of Ballarat in the time we had available on 7 January 2020. Gayle from Kaewa Cycle Adventures was very helpful and patient with transport from either end and hire of an e-bike and a normal 3-speed bike. Interesting to see the numerous small historical gold diggings along the trail. Lots of shelters and historical information are provided too. The landscape along this trail is flatter and drier than many of the trails in the east of the state.

18 Dec 2019 rode from new Wendoree station but also got lost at the Ring Road roadworks before risking my life crossing the busy road following everyones tyre marks. Once on the path proper it was a dream! One of the BEST bike paths I have done, excellent maps & signage, shelters, toilets,water, campgrounds and bonus native wild flowers. I should have gone on a cooler day as I turned back at the wonderful trestle bridge. Anyway loved it and I will be back next year.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 🙂

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Funding for Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail Improvements

Posted: 17/05/20

Golden Plains Shire Council has secured a $500,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Regional Infrastructure ...

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

Posted: 13/01/10

The shuttle bus service from Ballarat to Skipton will run again over the summer months ...

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Update Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail October 2008

Posted: 20/11/08

On the 29th October the newly resurfaced rail trail was opened. The complete distance of 54...

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

Posted: 31/01/07

On Saturday March 17 a fund raising Walk, Run or Bike ride event will be held ...

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Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail Opening (Vic)

Posted: 18/05/04

The Hon John Brumby MP, Minister for State and Regional Development opened the Ballarat - ...

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Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail (Vic)

Posted: 04/09/03

Three Community Jobs Programs have taken place on the rail trail since November 2001. Works on ...

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Ballarat to Skipton Update (Vic)

Posted: 22/07/03

This 54km rail trail is only 110km west of Melbourne and connects Ballarat and Skipton. ...

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Victorian Trail Happenings

Posted: 05/10/02

Murray to the Mountains Opening The official opening of the Murray to the Mountains Rail ...

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Victorian Trail Developments

Posted: 13/08/01

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

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Victorian Railtrail News Update

Posted: 01/07/00

East Gippsland Sealing Sealing of the East Gippsland Rail Trail between Bairnsdale and Nicholson is ...

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