Trail Open

Bellarine Rail Trail

Victoria - West

3.6 based on 16 reviews
Location: Bellarine Peninsula, 75km southwest of Melbourne
Length: 33 km
Surface: Fine gravel, Sealed
Start / End: South Geelong to Queenscliff
Public Transport: Bus, Coach, Train
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • Cycling – Touring and Hybrid BikesCycling – Touring and Hybrid Bikes
  • PramsPrams
  • WalkingWalking
  • WheelchairsWheelchairs

Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
  • A great day or weekend destination close to Melbourne and Geelong with scenery ranging from suburban to rolling farmland to the picturesque Swan Bay
  • Geelong and Queenscliff offer good shopping, food and drink
  • Easily accessible from Melbourne via V/Line services, alighting at South Geelong station
  • From Drysdale to Queenscliff the trail is beside the Bellarine Peninsula Tourist Railway. The tourist railway is happy to take bicycles on their trains if you don't want to ride in one (or both!) directions of this section.

Attractions

  • Geelong is Victoria’s second city and has an interesting seafront with colourful bollards
  • The Bellarine Peninsula has fine wineries, beaches and landscapes
  • Queenscliff is one of Victoria’s most picturesque coastal towns with many historic buildings. It looks over the Rip, the entrance to Port Phillip Bay
  • The Mornington Peninsula can be reached via the Searoad Ferry to Sorrento

Trail Guide

Bellarine rail trail opened in 2000. The main sections of the trail are:

  • South Geelong to Drysdale is 16 km long through the outer suburbs of Geelong
  • Drysdale to Queenscliff is 16.5 km long and features vistas of Swan Bay, vineyards and farms

Major towns with all services include Geelong, Leopold, Drysdale and Queenscliff.

Section Guides

  • The trail is asphalt between South Geelong and Drysdale, then primarily compacted, crushed rock between Drysdale and Queenscliff
  • From Drysdale to Queenscliff the trail runs next to the tourist railway and uses some local streets at the Queenscliff end
  • Emergency markers are located along the trail. In an emergency, call 000 and quote the emergency marker code where you are located
  • Crossings of major roads

Section A

South Geelong to Drysdale (16 km) 

  • From South Geelong Station take the bike path along Carr St to Strong St, where the rail trail begins.  The trail climbs gently to Leopold
  • Sweeping views back to Geelong
  • A gentle climb from Leopold to Curlewis, where the trail goes through farmland with views of Corio Bay and the You Yangs
  • This section is built beside the original formation and the old track is still visible in places
  • Drysdale station has a museum that is open when the train to Queenscliff is running
  • A coffee van operates in the park from 6 am to 12 pm every day of the week
  • Drysdale shopping centre is about 1 km north of the station

Section B

Drysdale to Queenscliff (16.5 km) 

  • The trail reaches the highest point on the line 2 km from Drysdale at Andersons Rd just after leaving the tunnel beneath the Drysdale ring road. From here it is downhill all the way to Queenscliff
  • Depart the rail reserve briefly at Lakers Siding (follow the markers)
  • From Fellows Rd the trail is on-road (Murray Rd) for 1 km before joining the path beside Bellarine Hwy
  • At King St the trail returns to the railway reserve to Queenscliff
  • Cross the railway line about 600 m from Queenscliff Station to run beside Swan Bay

For more information on this trail see the book Rail Trails of Victoria and South Australia.

Background Information

Traditional owners

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

Railway history

The line opened from Geelong to Queenscliff in 1879 to carry soldiers and materials to help defend Port Phillip Bay from possible attack by Russia. It also carried holidaymakers to the popular seaside resort of Queenscliff.  The line closed in 1976, but the section from Drysdale to Queenscliff reopened as a tourist railway in 1981.

The Bellarine Railway is happy to take bicycles on their trains free of charge if you don’t want to ride in one (or both!) directions of this section. Groups of 6+ are welcome to call 5258 2069 and pre-book to ensure enough space can be provided. On train running days the Queenscliff and Drysdale stations have a kiosk, gift shop and local tourist information.  Drysdale also has a museum.

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16 reviews of “Bellarine Rail Trail”

11 June 2020 Virus restrictions easing so lots of people cycling and walking in the glorious winter sun. I rode from South Geelong return and was very impressed with the many seats along the trail and covered picnic station with toilets. Southern section had many puddles and mud which could be a problem after rain if you don’t have mudguards. I didn’t like the trail going on a road with cars at Queenscliffe and I hope there are plans to build a seperate bike path. Next time I will book a cabin in Queenscliffe and include a return ferry day trip across to Sorrento and cycle to Point Nepean return

I did this track both ways over two days. Highlights of this rail trail are Bellarine bush and fauna. Views of Corio bay as mentioned in the notes and Swan Bay at Queenscliff. Historic stations and track. With half the track asphalted from South Geelong to Drysdale – this track is better than many other rail trails I have ridden and makes for easy riding. The entry point at South Geelong Station is also well signed from the car park. If you get tired and the train is running you can also get the train from Queenscliff to Drysdale. The inclines also are mostly gentle and easy to ride. There are lots of seats along the trail and even shelters. A bonus is you can also get the ferry to Sorrento from Queenscliff If you want to extend the journey like I did. A word of warning – however – check the weather forecast before riding. On my return it had rained and the track from Queenscliff to Drysdale was sloshy and there was a 45 km howling wind which made riding hard and unpleasant. Note also outside of Drysdale there is currently works which means a 1km or more detour up a steep hill. But overall a good ride. Some of the signs are weathered and grafitied – sometimes also there are dividing paths which are unsigned but if you get lost follow the railway line! It is a rail trail after all.

Rode Drysdale-Queenscliff return January 2020. As a setting for a ride it is an excellent spot and well worth the visit. The arrival at Swan Bay makes the trip down to Queenscliff wonderful. Was disappointed to not have the time to do the full trip from Geelong. Unfortunately after some showers in the morning of my ride the trail was very soft and slippery with some sections rough with erosion. There’s a catch 22 inasmuch as with the railway line still in use for tourist trains the riding/walking track has to snake around and not benefit (as on other trails) the engineered banking where the rail line goes; but if the line wasn’t in use you’d then not have the always thrilling moment of seeing a train go past you!!

Would be good to see the trail get some money spent on firming up and protecting the surfaces, avoiding road sections and updating signage.

Rode it from South Geelong to Queenscliff on Saturday and was pleased to see that many of the bike-unfriendly (and especially tandem-unfriendly) chicane gates have been removed. Still a few places were we had to get off and manhandle the bike around them. Nicely resurfaced with hotmix for most of the length too, except a very muddy bit of single track approaching Queenscliff. We ignored the signs telling us that the path was closed at Drysdale and only had to make a minor detour up and over the new highway, seemed a better choice than the lengthy on-road diversion according to the signs. Got caught in a thunderstorm and sheltered under a bush!

1/27. New Years Day 2019, and the 1st trail on my quest to ride every Rail Trail in Victoria in 2019. Had to blow out a few cobwebs from last night, and blow away an over zealous official at the Drysdale Station of the Bellarine Railway who said “Unauthorised vehicles are not permitted in prohibited areas” – I had parked my bike to take a photo less than 1 metre from the track!
38kms, including a little extra to meet the support crew at Geelong waterfront.
You can follow my exploits on my FB Page Warwick Duncan – The 2nd Chance Man or Insta @warwick_rides

In April, ’17 we had a weekend in Queenscliff with a group led by Dookie (11/3/17). Together we rode to Drysdale for lunch and back. The following day we rode another nice track around the Barwon River. In Oct. ’17 we again stayed in Queenscliff and rode this section again. The Friends of the Rail Trail have done a wonderful job of the gardens at the Suma Park Station. We recently stayed at Port Arlington and did the Drysdale to Geelong outskirts of this Trail. The hot mix surface (from Drysdale to Leopold) is easy to ride on and the Friends of the Rail trail have done a fabulous job of the revegetation. We loved the Curlewis station site, with its shelter, drinking fountain, notice board, Lone Pine tree and especially the Avenue of Honour. We agree with Dookie, this is a 5 star Rail Trail and it was wonderful to see so many people making good use of it – locals and tourists. .

Midweek meander: Cycling the Bellarine Rail Trail
The weather forecast said our unseasonal run of warm dry weather is about to come to a chilling end, time for one last rail trail before winter sets in.
We were are greeted by a crisp clear early morning as I cycle off the few kilometres to the aptly named Sunshine railway station.Traveling against the flow of commuter traffic its easy to find a cosy space on the 7.22 am limited express to Geelong where I will begin my ride.
Rattling quickly through nursery suburbs out across those seemingly flat basalt plains, a rising sun throws down a brilliant incandescent light across an undulating landscape, penetrating carriages then illuminating in gold relief the tired faces of passengers.
By 8.30 am I’m cycling through Geelong City down to Eastern Beach following a route to South Geelong where a big green signposted arrow points to the Bellarine Rail Trail.
Rolling along on a good surface of crushed rock it’s easy riding with only a few minor local road crossings. There has been significant planting of native vegetation either side of the trail which makes an ideal environment for native bird life, a bonus for those of us that enjoy a little twitching with their cycling, falcons, kites, parrots, wrens, butcher birds and herons accompany me most of the way.
About 10 kilometres in, at Leopold the pathed surface rises slightly, so I can peer into people’s backyards. I could be atop a dyke in Holland!
Most of the trail passes beside open farmland, alongside new housing developments and a golf course. In Drysdale where the trail meets the highway I’m greeted with a delicious unexpected surprise cake and coffee delivered from a mobile man with a van.
A weekend tourist railway still operates between Drysdale and Queenscliff so the track is well maintained with covered shelters, toilets and rest stops. Queenscliff is an historical fishing town that offers many options for the inquisitive traveler. Various accommodation types, fishing, a ferry service, museums, cafes, bookshops but no bicycle shop, so make sure your bicycle is well maintained, carry a pump, spare tube, some basic tools and know how to use them.
After chatting with some sheepish local fishermen on the Queenscliff Pier, we cycled back to South Geelong in overcast conditions into a building headwind just in time to make the 3pm train from South Geelong to Melbourne
All up 75 kilometres of easy cycling out and back on a comfortable well used trail that’s suitable for almost everybody.

Just spent two days on this RT. Day 1: Queenscliff to Drysdale/return. Day 2 Geelong to Drysdale/return. Perfect warm sunshine and zero wind meant we had everything in our favour and we were not disappointed. As bird lovers, we found day 1 to be very rewarding. Blue Wrens were there in big numbers and we were rewarded with a siting of a large flock of Red-browed Firetails too. Many Magpies have made this section their home and their Autumnal chorraling was very sweet.
A lot of work has been done on the Queenscliff-Drysdale section and despite the sign telling us of “erosion following heavy rains”, we didn’t find it too bad at all. The ‘big dip’ outside Drysdale has been hot-mixed and is a pleasure to ride in both directions. At about the halfway mark a drinking fountain has been installed..a very nice gesture. Lots of seating for those requiring a rest or relax.
Day 2: We started at the Geelong Showgrounds and loved the sealed surface from there. Disappointing lot of spray-paint-vandalism for the first few kms in East Geelong. High praise for all the revegetation work that has been done all the way to Drysdale. A lot of hard work to make the RT that much more enjoyable. Major road works happening at the Drysdale Station crossing. Hopefully traffic lights will be installed at what is a very dangerous road to cross. All the other crossings on major roads out of Geelong are traffic light controlled and work well. Great coffee van at the Drysdale Station, but be warned it closes right on 12 midday.
Thoroughly enjoyed this RT, hence 5 stars from us. Congrats to all the ‘Friends’ group for all the great work they have done.

Did the Bellarine Trail on November 2nd 2014 – with a group of friends. Very enjoyable – good upgrade to the track for most of the way between Geelong and Drysdale. The Drysdale to Queenscliff path needs improving in places – especially the big dip outside of Drysdale. Always great views of Swan Bay.

This was our first rail trail ride as we are new to this sport, we absolutely loved the ride fantastic tracks and great facilities along the way. Started at geelong rode to queenscliff and back, will be back and do this again and are already planning another rail trail ride.

Rode with a 2 seater croozer towing the kids. First 5km starting from Geelong South was terrible. Why do all these bike paths have to put in bollards/chicanes. Make it impossible to ride through them with a bike trailer. Rest of the ride was pretty good. One more tight rail crossing at the Queenscliff end as well.

Shelton,
The section between Geelong and Drysdale will be ok for a cargo bike, and if it has not been raining for a few days the section between Drysdale and Point Lonsdale will passable but in the section between Swan Bay road and Banks road you may have to walk it a bit through sections of soft gravel. Then from Point Lonsdale to Queenscliff is ok except turn left onto Queensclif-/Portarlington road for about 500m, there is a new verge to ride on, turn right into Yarram road( becomes the trail) because the short sectionof trail that joins Queenscliff-Portarlington to Yarram road is flooded. Hopes this helps. Spokes. P.S. saw a cargo bike on the trail on Sunday 5th August, maybe that was already you. If it was, windy ah.

Can anybody give me an update on the state of this railtrail. I’m really wanting to try a cargo-bike holiday with my two little people…. but cargo bike portage is not really a winning proposition.

Well all the re-surfacing on the trail between Portarlington Rd and Drysdale has been undone by the rain, but mainly because no drainage! Improper contouring and grass verges higher than the track have allowed the water to flow straight down the track like a river. Have a video to prove. Needs a lot of work to get it back to a standard to make it user friendly. So give it a big miss if you are thinking of riding it. Between Curlewis and Geelong is still OK.

Being a frequent user of this rail trail I am delighted that the track is getting some much needed attention. Plus I have to totally agree with dogbait ( been bitten by a dog or two have we) that a tunnel under Geelong Rd, Drysdale has to go into the urgent tray before someone gets hit and killed.

February 2012. After much complaint, the Council is now in the process of re-surfacing 11k’s of the trail between Portarlington Rd and Drysdale. They are removing all the loose large bluestones and replacing it with a hard, packed base topped with fine bluestones. A great improvement!

This, and the new shelter at Mannerim and the shelter and toilet at Suma Park along with the newly installed kilometre markers and the Bellarine Rail Trail is finally getting up to First Class standard.

Now we just need to convince VicRoads of the urgency of a tunnel crossing at the horrendously dangerous and difficult crossing at Geelong Rd, Drysdale.

Drysdale underpass on Bellarine Rail Trail now open

Posted: 20/07/20

Users of the Bellarine Rail Trail in Victoria are relieved to see the completion of ...

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Upgrade for Bellarine Rail Trail

Posted: 28/06/19

The new trail surface (Reg Quelch) The Bellarine ...

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Steam to the Bellarine Rail Trail

Posted: 25/05/13

What could be better than combining a steam train and a rail trail.  707 Operations Inc ...

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