Trail Open

Gippsland Plains Rail Trail

Victoria - Gippsland

3.7 based on 14 reviews
Location: Near Traralgon Gippsland, 190km east of Melbourne
Length: 63 km
Surface: Coarse gravel, Fine gravel
Start / End: Stratford to Traralgon
Public Transport: 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

DETAILS

Why visit the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail?

  • Diverse scenery and easy public transport access in Traralgon
  • Fun activities for children in Stratford, with a skate park and exercise equipment
  • The Long Bridge over the Latrobe River
  • The trail surface is smooth gravel, though it can be soft in some newer sections when wet

Attractions

  • This trail passes through generally flat dairy farm country with views of the Great Dividing Range
  • Access by train from Melbourne at Stratford or Traralgon, making it possible to ride one way and return by train

Trail Guide

Access Points

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

Section Guides

Stratford to Maffra (10 km)

  • The trail begins in Apex Park and runs beneath Princes Hwy to a shared path beside the highway until it reaches the main railway line
  • The trail then continues alongside the working rail line until the old branch line
  • The trail crosses the Maffra-Stratford Road and up a steep ramp on to the original railway embankment on the south side of the road
  • The trailhead at Maffra is at the Gippsland Vehicle Collection
  • Continue on to 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 facilities including cafes and restaurants.

Maffra to Tinamba (8 km)

  • Leaving Maffra, the trail rejoins Johnson St at the Macalister River Bridge
  • The trail passes through a delightful wetland and forest on the way to Tinamba
  • The trail has an excellent surface and crosses several restored creek crossings
  • Tinamba is a small town with a cafe and restaurant

Tinamba to Heyfield (9.5 km)

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

Heyfield to Cowwarr (11 km)

A section of trail is closed from the Heyfield-Cowwarr road to the Dawson-Seaton road because there is no bridge over the Thompson River between these roads. A 5 km on-road section on quiet roads bypasses the area. Funds have been received from the Victorian Government to reinstall the bridge and complete track work to open this final section of the trail. Works are expected to be completed in 2021.

  • On the western side of Heyfield the trail travels several hundred metres down quiet Racecourse Rd then over the Heyfield-Seaton road toward Dawson. The former Dawson railway siding is now a flora reserve
  • The trail continues on Dawson Rd until the intersection with the Cowwarr-Seaton road, then turns left on to the Cowwarr-Seaton road and left again at the next T-intersection into Cowwarr-Heyfield road
  • Continue on Cowwarr-Heyfield road for less than 1 km before turning left to rejoin the trail
  • The trail crosses Rainbow Creek and continues a short distance into Cowwarr, where there is a hotel, general store and cafe.

Cowwarr to Toongabbie (9 km)

This section 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
  • Dismount to get through some steel gates as the trail continues southwest toward Toongabbie
  • About 6 km from Cowwarr the path crosses a deep gorge with stone walls and steel barricades. These barriers were installed in the 1950s to slow down the erosive effects of Fells Creek

Toongabbie to Glengarry (9 km)

This section is fully developed.

  • Toongabbie is a small town with only one store, refer Sponsored Links below.
  • The trail continues south to Glengarry through a high-quality patch of remnant native grassland, with wildflowers in spring
  • There is a low-level crossing across Eaglehawk Creek
  • This section finishes at the old Glengarry Railway Station, the only public building remaining on the rail trail. It includes the station platform, toilet and a small goods shed
  • A loading crane in the station precinct was moved from Rosedale Station after the original was removed at the end of rail services. The crane was. used to load goods for Melbourne
  • Glengarry is a small town with a general store, bakery, hotel, and BBQ area with a playground

Glengarry to Traralgon (10 km)

The newest section includes an impressively long embankment and four bridges across the Latrobe River and its floodplain. The bridges use the old bridge trusses and pylons, with new handrails and walkway structures across them.

  • Picturesque views across the Latrobe floodplain and adjoining farmland
  • There is a rail trail car park at Burnetts Rd, 2 km north of Princes Hwy. Some maps may not include Burnetts Rd; look for the brown Vineyard sign
  • The trail finishes at Marshalls Rd 500 m before Princes Hwy
  • Traralgon is a large regional town serving the Latrobe Valley. It has a shopping plaza, fast food outlets and accommodation

Background Information

Traditional owners

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

Rail Line History

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

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.

V-Line runs passenger train services from Melbourne to Bairnsdale via Traralgon, Sale and Stratford.

 

PHOTOS

REVIEWS

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14 reviews of “Gippsland Plains Rail Trail”

ISO, July 2020, another well signed rail trail start (including cafes ahead) next to toilets in the car park at Stratford. Perfect sunny weather and green paddocks made for a wonderful ride to Heyfield and a cabin at Blores Hill. I would have liked to camp in the small towns like Tinamba or Cowwarr near the pub but they don’t even have a small free camp area. At Traralgon the trail ends well out of town without clear directions to the railway station. I cycled back and again would have liked to camp at Glengarry and Toongabbie to support their community but no camp sites. After a relaxed week on this excellent trail I looked over the new Avon River rail bridge being constructed. I hope the Rail Trail will run over the old bridge, the last thing it needs is this piece of history to be demolished! A great Trail overall and I will be back.

15/27. This was my 15th rail trail on my journey to ride every trail in Victoria this year. The weather looked dodgy but it turned out ok for the ride undertaken on Sat 11/4. The area had 2mm of rain overnight, but the track was not wet at all and I think the moisture actually helped bind the surface together.
We started at the Traralgon end heading to Stratford, mainly because of the wind forecast. Sure enough we had a decent crosswind for the 1st 20km or so then a nice tailwind for the rest of it.
The 1st 4 bridges are not in very good condition, and in fact a lady, presumably from the management committee, was putting up warning signs as we rode past.
This Trail is very flat but a good track and a surprisingly pleasant ride through prime farmland and pretty towns. It has lovely views towards the ranges to the north.
I did it on a mountain bike with narrow tyres and the suspension locked, but my friend rode a road bike all the way. While it was a little uncomfortable on some of the stonier parts, and in particular the sandy section near Heyfield, she managed the whole way without too much trouble.
The signposting seemed to be ok in most places, but missing just where you need it most (eg. through some of the towns) meaning we took a couple of wrong turns. However the maps on the large signs were very helpful, and probably the best I’ve seen.
We had a nice lunch and coffee at Cafe 3858 at Heyfield, one of the few places that seemed to cater for cyclists. Heyfield is about half way to Stratford, so a logical place to stop.
The 5km on-road section was not a big issue as there was very few cars that passed us, and they were all courteous to cyclists.
My biggest criticism of this Trail is the very narrow gates at every road crossing. It is impossible to ride through them, especially on a flat bar, so it meant having to stop at every one. On a 60km + ride with dozens of crossings, that gets a little annoying.
My 2019 challenge is to ride every rail trail in Victoria this calendar year to promote organ donation. You can follow my rail trail exploits on FB Warwick Duncan – The 2nd Chance Man or Insta @warwick_rides. today.

My wife and I drove down from Dubbo in NSW to ride some of the Victorian Rail Trails. We decided to do the Gippsland Plains RT first as we had heard that there had been some upgrades done since we rode it many years ago. We had booked a motel in Traralgon for a few nights. We caught the morning train from Traralgon to Stratford with our bikes (cost a mere $4.20 each).
A quick coffee and cake at Stratford and we were on our way. The first section out of Stratford isn’t a rail trail, but a cycle path out a couple of k’s to the start of the actual trail. It is at a point where the old line junctioned off the main line, and sections of the old bridge overpass remain in place.
The surface is much improved since we last rode the trail, with a compacted fine gravel being the standard for the majority of the trail.
The first town you come to is Maffra, which is a busy thriving town with lots of traffic. The RT does not follow the original alignment through Maffra, and it can be a bit daunting riding with the traffic. Once you cross the river on the road bridge you are once again on a cycle path for a couple of k’s until you reach the old railway corridor. It becomes obvious why you can’t follow the old corridor as you discover the remains of a huge timber trestle bridge that crossed the flood plains at this point.
The trail continues through scenic farmland until we arrived at Heyfield where we enjoyed a delicious lunch. The trail out of Heyfield is a bit obscure with a steep incline to get back to the railway corridor. It isn’t long before you have to take a 2.5km diversion on some quiet country roads to get around a missing bridge over the Thomson River. Then on pass Cowwarr, Toongabbie and Glengarry. The old bridges across the Latrobe River and associated flood plains are now open. However they have been decked with chip board flooring, which is getting very weathered in some places. These will need some attention in the near future.
The trail finishes abruptly a few k’s short of Traralgon, forcing you to ride on the road into the town. The last bit of the old corridor is still available but not yet turned into a rail trail.
Our total distance from Stratford to Traralgon was 73kms. A really great ride with lots of little towns along the way.

Completed parts of the ride over several days whilst holidaying in the area. Stratford west to Tinamba had some great views back over the old tressle bridge. Traralgon north to Glengarie was interesting across the floodplain. Being through dairy country flies were a constant annoyance. Saw several riders even riding with insect nets!

Had a great time on this trail late October to early November 2017. Found the condition of the trail to be generally excellent. I did get a bit confused with the signage at Maffra. For more detailed information about my ride, feel free to read my rail trail cycling blog http://uncoolcyclingclub.com/gippsland-plains-rail-trail-heyfield-stratford/

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

NEWS

Gippsland Plains Rail Trail (Vic) Fully Open

Posted: 12/05/14

The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail (GPRT) celebrated the opening of its final section from Traralgon ...

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Opening of Gippsland Plains Rail Trail (Vic)

Posted: 30/04/14

The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail (GPRT) is celebrating the opening of its final section from ...

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Gippsland Plains RT Receives Funding For Completion (VIC)

Posted: 30/10/13

Media release The Hon Peter Ryan MP Deputy Premier Minister for State Development Minister for ...

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Funding for the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail

Posted: 04/06/13

Victorian Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, announced that $105,000 from RDV would be provided to Wellington Council ...

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Surface upgrade on Gippsland Plains Rail Trail

Posted: 01/04/13

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

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More Funding for the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail (VIC)

Posted: 19/10/12

Media Release: Wednesday 17 October 2012 $200,000 FOR GIPPSLAND PLAINS RAIL TRAIL – STAGE 1 Member for Morwell Russell Northe ...

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Funding for Gippsland Plains Rail Trail (VIC)

Posted: 02/07/11

In May, State Member for Morwell, Russell Northe, announced an $800,000 State Government grant to help ...

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State Budget Delivers for Gippland Plains Rail Trail (VIC)

Posted: 06/05/11

The Baillieu/Ryan Coalition Government's inaugural budget has delivered on its election commitments to Victorian ...

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Opening of Gippsland Plains Rail Trail on October 1st

Posted: 12/09/05

Below is the contents of a flyer from the committee. Congratulations on all their hard ...

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