Trail Open

East Gippsland Rail Trail

Victoria - Gippsland

4.1 based on 19 reviews
Location: East Gippsland, 280km from Melbourne
Length: 94 km
Surface: Coarse gravel, Fine gravel, Sealed
Start / End: Bairnsdale to Newmeralla (near Orbost)
Public Transport: Coach, Train
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • Cycling – Touring and Hybrid BikesCycling – Touring and Hybrid Bikes
  • Horse RidingHorse Riding
  • WalkingWalking

Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
  • A long rail trail, which passes through a variety of forest and farmland
  • Experience the views beside the long timber bridge into Orbost
  • Rich birdlife and wildlife in forest areas
  • Ideal for multi-day tours or day trips
  • Lots of huge old timber bridges, railway cuttings and embankments
  • Small towns and villages with cafes, accommodation and crafts


  • Occasional views of the Gippsland Lakes
  • Option to divert onto the Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail to the resort town of Lakes Entrance

Trail Guide

Access Points

  • Bairnsdale – Howett Park on the eastern edge of town
  • Nicholson – from Sarsfield Rd
  • Bruthen – Access via pedestrian bridge on east side of Great Alpine Way
  • Nowa Nowa – west side of Kingston St, or east side of Boggy Creek
  • Newmerella – at Burns Rd on the Snowy River flats
  • Orbost – from Forest Park

There are some steep diversions around bridges from Bruthen eastward to Orbost.

Section Guides

Bairnsdale to Nicholson (8 km)

This section of the trail is fully sealed and features a fully restored trestle bridge across the Nicholson River.

  • A steep trail on the west side gives access to shops and picnic areas at Nicholson.
  • Take in the lake views and regenerated bushland beside the trail

Nicholson to Bruthen (20 km)

The trail surface is hard-packed gravel from Nicholson. Features of this section include several large embankments after Stevensons Rd, and views of Slaughterhouse Creek Valley at Bumberrah.

  • Cross Dirty Hollow Creek via low level bypass
  • Take care crossing Omeo Hwy at Wiseleigh
  • Access to Bruthen township via side track to the right before a tunnel, then use restored pedestrian bridge

Bruthen to Nowa Nowa (30 km)

A long section through shady forest, with a steady climb to Colquhoun. The surface is hard packed gravel, though it maybe sandy in some sections.

  • In Colquhoun Forest the Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail provides a connection to Lakes Entrance
  • See the impressive Stony Creek Trestle bridge about 5 km before Nowa Nowa
  • The trail uses a low-level bypass at Stony Creek

Nowa Nowa to Orbost (38 km)

This is the longest section of the trail, and there are no towns or villages.  Please ensure you have food and water before you leave Nowa Nowa.

  • The 36km Nowa Nowa to Newmerella (western side of Snowy River near Orbost) section opened in January 2006
  • Fine, hard compacted gravel that is easy riding on a hybrid bike
  • The trail is wide enough for three bikes except in a few sections where the camber seems a bit excessive.
  • The trail has quite a lot of shade, making summer riding pleasant
  • Three major wooden trestle bridges have low-level diversions. These provide a good view of the bridges but the approaches are quite steep, particularly at the largest middle bridge
  • At Nowa Nowa the new trail connects to the existing section via a path on to the Princes Hwy crossing Boggy River
  • Plenty of parking at the old station site
  • The Bruthen to Nowa Nowa road has been turned into Princes Hwy, so major roadworks have taken place at Nowa Nowa. A planned pedestrian/cycle bridge will eliminate the diversion on to the highway
  • At Newmerella the access point is at Burn Rd on the left as Princes Hwy descends to the river flats
  • The end of the trail is about 2 km short of the original terminus of the line, which never actually crossed the Snowy River into Orbost. At this stage there are no plans to reopen this section, which is mostly wooden trestle bridges crossing the river flats.

Background Information

Traditional owners

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

Rail Line History

The railway came to Bairnsdale in 1888, but didn’t reach Orbost until 1916, which was almost the end of Victoria’s railway building period.  This railway was notable for it’s many long trestle bridges.  The Mundiac Creek trestle was destroyed by bushfires in 1980.  The Stony Creek trestle was the site of a derailment in 1964, when 4 goods trucks fell into the creek.  The line was finally closed in 1987.


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.


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19 reviews of “East Gippsland Rail Trail”

ISO June 2020 I rode three days from Bairnsdale and was very impressed with the distance signs along the trail and the roofed shelters. In Orbost I cycled on to Marlo on the coast, the road is really narrow and dangerous so perhaps consider the Vline bus as they will take bikes. I heard Parks Vic was intending the build a bike path from Marlow to Cape Conran. On returning I took the side trip Gippsland Discovery Trail a wonderful Rail Trail but with some ridiculously steep hills to come back up.

25/27 My challenge in 2019 is to ride every rail trail in Victoria, and this was the one I have been most worried about all year because of the distance from home, it’s overall length and some of the reviews on this site. I tackled the 1st 31km from Bairnsdale to Bruthen (where we were camping for 2 nights) after doing the Gippsland Lakes Trail on the Friday. That left me ‘only’ 68kms to finish off the next day.
Full credit to the volunteer committee for their work on this RT. Signage is easily the best in Victoria, I loved the fact they all showed the distance between towns. The 1st 8kms to Nicholson had recently been resealed, but I have to admit I prefer nice hard-packed gravel to bitumen on railtrails, each to their own. The 39km section from Nowa Nowa to Orbost wasn’t easy, but certainly wasn’t as bad as some of the reviews here. Yes there were some quite stony parts were you had to be careful, but it was hardly treacherous. MTBs and hybrids only though, especially on this section.
There are plenty of nice rest stops along the way, often in picturesque spots. Some wonderful views of old trestle bridges that are absolutely stunning, even if you had to dismount a few times to get through their steep gullies.
The bushfires were close enough to create hazy conditions but the wind was blowing the fires away from where I was, and I saw plenty of wildlife along the way which is always pleasant.
25 down, and 2 trails to go to complete my challenge.You can follow all my railtrail rides on FB Warwick Duncan – The 2nd Chance Man or Insta @warwick_rides

Reporting back after my previous comment in July 2018. We rode this track again last weekend and it has new signage and the trail is much improved. Thank you to all the volunteers for all the work that has been done. We rode from Bairnsdale to Nowa Nowa again. Will try the Orbost section next and keep riding it. A very enjoyable ride. Probably still not good for skinny tyres, still a few stony spots, but otherwise most people and families should now be able to ride it. Thanks again.

The only words to describe this goat track are cruel, treacherous, and brutal. The track is noted as sealed between Bairnsdale and Nicholson…. the bitumen is deteriorating to make the ride bumpy and rough. The track then bounces and climbs through the Colquhoun Forest with a lot of tree debris on the track towards Nowa Nowa. We can recommend the Nowa Nowa Tavern for overnight accommodation (there’s not a lot more to the town). The 40 klm journey to Orbost was the toughest and relentless riding we have ever encountered. The track is strewn with loose river rocks which were slippery and lumpy. No coffee shops or breaks on this segment!
There are signs all along the way stating that the only vehicles allowed on the track are maintenance vehicles – there hasn’t been one sighted for many years.
Could not possibly recommend this ride to anyone.

My partner and I rode this over Christmas period for 3 days and the trail from Bairnsdale to Nowa Nowa is great. We stopped in Nowa Nowa 2 nights and the caravan park there is a good rest spot by the river. We rode Nowa Nowa to Orbost and back and the track is in shocking condition. We are experienced riders and found this challenging due to the surface being of big rocks and the constant vibration was exhausting. We got 2 pinch flats. They need to seriously upgrade that section.

We have ridden this trail from Bairnsdale to Nowa Nowa. From Bairnsdale to Bruthen, it is a great trail with some shrubbery growing on the trail in only some places. From Bruthen onwards, the trail is much worse and not maintained well, if at all. More like an abandoned vehicle track with shrubbery invading the trail. Also very stony with lots of sizeable rocks on the trail in many places. from reports it gets even worse from Nowa Nowa to Orbost, so we turned around. A real pity because the trail goes past beautiful forests and bushland. Not recommended for skinny tyres, families or recumbent trikes.

Rode from Orbost to Simpsons Ck Rd (28km return) with a deviation to Grandview lookout. Road surface vey good as long as you are not on skiny tyres. Pleasant ride with lots of shade from trees beside the track . Great views over Snowy River floodplain bridges (3km west of Orbost) from lookout.

We rode this rail trail from Bairnsdale to Orbost over 3 days. I was hauling my 4yr old son on a trail gator, and also a double chariot trailer with our 2 yr old twins. My wife hauled a (largely) empty single trailer which our 4yr used for rest of when it was raining on the first day. We stayed in Bairnsdale the night before at the Big4 caravan park (which we hear is about to close). It was perfectly fine to stay at, and was reasonably straight forward in getting to the rail trail. It did require a 400m ride along the highway, but other than that was not too bad. I dropped a car at Bruthen earlier in the morning and rode back. It was showering on and off but the trail was still in very good condition. The first day’s ride was excellent. Great scenery and well graded.
We stayed at Bruthen campground and it was probably one of the best we’ve stayed at. Beautifully kept and unique. The area around Bruthen is gorgeous and the town has a great feel to it.
The next morning we headed off towards Nowa Nowa. We did a car drop early again, but with my Mum’s camper van this time. It was perfect, as she would meet us for lunch along the way. The second day starts out with a climb and the quality of the trail was still very good for a gravel trail. I would describe this rail trail as more of a bush rail trail. We were hauling trailers and never had any real issues. This part of the trail spends most of the time in forest which was in contrast to day 1. Stoney Creek bridge is very impressive, but the grades down into the low level bypass and back out again are a lot steeper and required some walking with loaded trailers. Without the trailers, it is rideable.
We stayed at Mingling waters in their Lakeside Cottage. It was exactly what we needed, enough room for the 5 of us (including 2 protects) and a lot of space for the kids to run around. The owners are absolutely lovely and our kids played with theirs for most of the afternoon an following morning. The burgers at the cafe there are absolutely sublime!
The next day was easily the hardest. There had been some high winds a few days previous and there was a lot of branches and debris on the trail, as well as the occasional tree. The grades are more variable as there are more low level passes and also some sections of cutting that have been bypassed (requiring more climbing and defending) due to the risk of erosion. It’s not necessarily worse, just a bit more work. Probably almost double the elevation gain of the previous day. Most of the day was also spent in forest which is not as interesting, but after the second crossing of Joiners road, the trail heads downhill and into beautiful country as the trail cuts across the hillside and onto the flats that lead into Orbost. Highly recommend finishing in Orbost and not at Burn Road.
We ended up driving home (Jindabyne) that afternoon/evening, but would probably recommend staying in Orbost the night.
All up, a great trail that we all thoroughly enjoyed. The quality of the trail was fine and we had no real issues besides the branch (and tree) fall.

Just did the trail in a single day from Bairnsdale, then rode onto Marlo from Orbost to stay at the hotel I’d booked there. I’m a roadie so used to riding long distances. I’ve been on Warburton trail with my roadbike countless times with 28mm tyres inflated to 70 psi, but this trail was much more challenging especially from Nowa Nowa to Orbost. MTB or CX might be the go. Another note of caution is that large parts of this trail is a long way away from any townships or main roads, so water, food, puncture repair and mechanical issues should be considered. I kept getting twigs caught in the rear derailleur, which could have snapped it if I was unlucky. If you’re a cycling novice you should go with someone with a bit more experience, with right equipment and preparation.

On 28-31 Oct 2016, I rode the trail with 2 others for 3d/2 nights. I drove to Bairnsdale and my 2 mates caught the train, which carried 6 bikes/cyclists alright. It was a good ride that I’ve wanted to do for a couple of months, but held back on due to 2-3mo of Tasman Sea lows dumping rain in Gippsland. There is actually a part-time chap who drives the trail and keeps it clear, and we were impressed with how well maintained it was. It’s more of an adventure out-bush trail, not a Warby trail. Although, we ran into folks on folding compact bikes, a tandem and families with kids on bikes; so it offers diverse capabilities in different places. The creeks and rivers weren’t overly full, but there were billabongs in places. We’d been warned to bring Aeorguard for the mossies, which got used daily.

Sat, we carried panniers for 60km Bairnsdle to Nowa Nowa, where we stayed in a caravan park for 2 nights. The pub did us tea for 2 nights (normally closed sundays), and it was affordable and good tucker. Mingling Waters Cafe opens at 6am, and had interesting fare and good coffee.

On Sunday’s 40km ride to Orbost (& 40km return): we had 1 tree to climb over out-bound; it got windy, and we had to stop for 6-8 trees/branches across the track coming back (half of which were small enough for us to remediate). The trail also got down to single track for a few km.

On Monday morning, the trail west from Nowa Nowa got a bit heavy for about 20km after some night rain. When the trail dried out, the 15-20kn headwind kicked in. Can’t complain, as there was tree cover and hills to give a degree of shelter. We rode the 200km Bairnsdale to Orbost/return in 3 days, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d say hybrid and mountan bikes with 35mm and larger tyres are the go, and road bikes (23-28mm tyres) would struggle as there are sand and gravel bits to take down the unwary. We panniered 60km in/out, and rode Orbost/return 80km without baggage on Sunday for lunch. There were some big hill climbs – around 7km length, but not too steep (RT gradient).

Bruthen had the micro-brewery (good reports from a couple of riders), 2-3 take-away shops and a bakey, and is well placed as a coffee stop. We met a lady NSW rider here (self-supported camping) aiming to ride the 100km Bairnsdale-Orbost leg in one day, who said there’s nothing like Victoria’s rail trail network in NSW. She was really enjoying herself.

I had aggresuve 40mm Schwalbe Mondial touring tyres (on a 700c rigid bike) which gave me great control, and I could light up and hammer the track at 35kmh when conditions allowed. Balancing your gear on the bike is important, and one mate went down on a straight stretch when his front tyre lost grip due to the load aft (26”mtb with racks); which also took down our second rider (with ‘street tread’ 35mm tyres). A lighter load, or a frame or handlebar bag might have helped with load distribution. Two 800ml bidons (or equivalent) strongly recommended, along with a multi-tool and tyre repair capability. It was long, sometimes hard, and a lot of fun. Enjoy!

I had only 4 hours to ride so I didn’t rush. A leisurely breakfast was had before driving out to Nowa Nowa to start the first overnight bike ride that I’d ever done. I was tackling the Nowa Nowa to Orbost section of the Bairnsdale rail trail, having previously knocked off the first section of the ride with Dad perhaps 10 years earlier. I started from the trestle bridge near Nowa Nowa and was surprised to find another car there…heaven forbid! It was school holidays I guess. They quickly left anyway and I was on my own…just me and the bush.

A group of four rode the trail from Orbost to Bairnsdale over three days Melbourne Cup weekend. Weather was ok, just a little rain on the first day from Orbost to Nowa Nowa. We were staying in Lakes Entrance and just did car shuffles each day. Second day was Nowa Nowa to Bruthen, then us two boys were dropped off at the top of the Mississippi Trail and we rode it back to Lakes whilst the ladies drove the cars. Day three was the boys riding from Bruthen to Bairnsdale whilst the ladies shopped. All in all, a wonderful weekend’s riding on a fantastic track. I agree with the others, the section between Nowa Nowa and Orbost is not as good as the other parts, but it was perfectly acceptable. The sealed section from Nicholson was rather bumpy, I preferred the gravel track!

I rode this trail on the weekend (2nd and 3rd of May 2015). This trail, to me, has two very different parts. The section between Bairnsdale and Nowa Nowa is fantastic, past Nowa Nowa to Orbost is not so good. The trail is sealed between Bairnsdale and Nicholson, though cracking in a lot of places, while it is good compact gravel on to Bruthen and then to Nowa Nowa, past Nowa Nowa the track surface has deteriorated – the track is littered with large stones and tree debris, making it difficult to ride. I found the ride up to Bruthen the best part, with fantastic countryside and good views of the surroundings. I really recommend this section as the trail as it is not that hard, and the trail through Bruthen is well integrated with the town. Past Bruthen you begin to climb to the Gippsland Lakes trail turn-off, then downhill into Nowa Nowa. This section is more secluded but easy going. Past Nowa Nowa, I found very hard because of the trail surface – though there is enough interest in the surrounding bush not to make it boring. One of the biggest problems I had with this trail was the lack of signage – while I’m not a fan of posts every kilometre, there wasn’t much signage to tell you how far you were from the next town, so made judging timing hard. Past Nowa Nowa, the signs at the road crossings have been weathered away – so there was no clear indicator of how far to go. I found the trestle bridges at Wairewa Road and Stony Creek the most impressive of all the bridges I have seen on any trail. It is a good weekend trip.

Rode from Nowa Nowa west to the historic timber bridge at Stoney Creek (approx 6km). Easy ride out to the bridge, good views of the bridge and then a great coast most of the way back. Track in good condition with the Nowa Nowa shop a great great place to finish for a drink or a feed.

Our favourite Sunday ride! My wife and I regularly ride from Nicholson to Bruthen for coffee/lunch and back again on a Sunday. This part of the trail is about 42 km there and back, a very comfortable ride through gently undulating hills and it is well shaded. Bruthen has some great eateries as well. We are often surprised that we have the track to ourselves and wonder why more locals don’t use it more?

Further to my last post
As previously mentioned I camped in Bruthen and Orbost. I started from Orbost at about 1.30 having left my car at the caravan park not far from the beginning of the trail, arriving at Bruthen at about 4pm. I mention this because without a doubt, the Bruthen Caravan Park is the nicest one I have ever seen, well situated close by the river with a very good manager who maintains the place beautifully. The next day I stopped at Nowa Nowa for morning tea, again a great place to stop and by about 4pm I had arrived at Orbost which also has a good caravan park close to town. The descent into the valley opposite Orbost is marvellous and the ensuing ride past the very long trestle bridge stretching across the river flats is fascinating. I mentioned Marlo before, 11 kms from Orbost; it is a beautiful little town with some nice bike paths with lovely views of the mouth of the Snowy. Importantly there is a good pub with nice sea food which makes it an ideal side trip from Orbost.…..

It was a lovely trip and while a fully loaded bike is heavy, I always think it is more comfortable with the weight tending to make for a smoother ride. It is certainly a very cheap way to travel and there is also more flexibility with the possibility at times of camping off the trail.

I rode this trail in October 2012, Bairnsdale to Orbost and return, camping at Bruthen and then Orbost. I then went out to Marlo at the mouth of the Snowy River which, to my mind was the high point of the trip, 22kms return, easy riding. I suggest that this side trip should be mentioned in the trail description.
On return, I rode the whole way back to Bairnsdale in a day as the weather looked like breaking up,
( which it did) The various trestle bridges were wonderful, especially the huge one running over the river flats to Orbost. One would hope that something could be done to ensure its survival as it must be the longest in the country. I did find the section of the trail after Nowa Nowa became rather rough and on my return, I kept to the highway to Nowa Nowa, but as someone has previously said, the weather had obviously knocked the trail around. Still, perhaps it would be wise to give it a bit of extra maintenance, perhaps it has received some by now. As always, this New South Welshman is astonished at the way the Victorians have set these trails up. It is certainly a more civilised place than NSW!! Bike riders are regarded as dangerous Greenie lunatics in my state.

I came down from Canberra to do the EGRT last weekend. Had a fabulous time. Everything was arranged by liz of Snowy River Cycling. I picked up my bike, great selection Liz, a nice Trek with soft front option and hard tail. Stayed at the Grand Terminus hotel in Bairnsdale, made to feel very welcome. Started out at first light in -2 degrees. Beautiful morning. My first thought was that you can tell its an old trail that has been used many times. The surface is first class and well bedded down. Credit to the local councils and committees that do the maintanence. I thought that the ride was going to be very flat but there are some nice undulations in the trail. I stopped at a cafe in Bruthen for breakfast. They did a great job and you can tell that they love people riding their trail. Took off again and this section of the trail is probably the best, great surface again and some good cuttings. And then the highlight of the whole trail. I came flying around a gentle right bend and as it opened up I saw the most amazing sight. It took my breath away. The trestle bridge is the best example of early 1900’s wooden infrastructure that I have seen. I have to admit that up until that point I was disappointed with the amount of railway infrastructrure on the trail. This fixed that. I spent quite a bit of time walking around the bridge and reading great interruptive signage, well done again. When I finally got going again I made it to Nowa Nowa for the night. Have to admit that finding where the trail started again was tricky. I like to do this when I get into town because I leave at first light. I stayed at the Mingling Waters Park and they loved having me there, thank you Mike. Dinner at the pub, thank you girls for a most unexpected vegetarian dinner, not what I expected. First light saw me back on the trail. One of the reason why I love rail trails is that if you get on them before the sun gets up you get to see the beauty of first light hitting the trees, I was even luckier to be in a granite cutting when it did and the colours were fabulous. This short 40km section has a rough surface which I was disappointed in but I understand the issues they have had with weather lately so thats ok. Watch out for herds of kangaroo coming across the trail at this spot and at this time of day. It was great to ride beside them but having a 200kg roo come straight across your path when you are doing 30kph yourself is interesting. Got into Orbost a couple of hours after setting out. More trestle highlights on this part of the trail, finished with the 937m long flood plain trestle as you go into Orbost. Locals were very friendly when I showed up all smelly and wanted some breakfast. Thank you to the travel agency who changed my bus and train bookings and to Kay at her cafe for the most enjoyable breakfast. Overall, fabulous experience, great trail. Well done to all the locals who make it happen. Neal

I rode 200km Barinsdale to Orbost and return over 3 days (10-12 Mar ’12) with a YHA group of 6, with 2 nights spent in Nowa Nowa. It had rained 57mm in Nowa Nowa on the Thrs, and we set off on Sat. The rivers and creeks were swollen and lots of flooded paddocks around. The trail was excellent, had drained well in 36hrs and we had little trouble. One could get loose sand eroded onto the trail in a few stretches, but we adapted. East of Nowa Nowa we were told there’s a couple of level creek crossings, but we got past these without getting our socks wet.

The 100km of nearly contiguous bike track is a real treasure. I had a thoroughly great time. My Shogun hybrid XT groupset 27 spd had 38mm front and 35mm rear Schwalbe Cross Pro tyres, and the rig was perfect for this dirt track. A couple with us rode on 28mm cross tyres and did alright, but may have been a bit more cautious when the surface loosened up occasionally. It’s fairly sparsely populated, so bring water, sunscreen, multi-tool, tube, tyre repair kit, etc.

A few bike families we saw teamed up, and were using cars to let the kids do shorter stretches. There are roads crossing the track at intervals to allow this. There’s interesting birdlife, wallabies and kangaroos, and a personal highlight was riding behind 3 emus for 3km at 30km. The countryside is varied, with forest gaining predominance much of the time. Riding in the forest gives good shelter from the wind and probably sun. I loved it. Thanks to the trail volunteers who keep the scrub in check , clear fallen branches and arrest erosion issues. The track is a gem.

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