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This scenic rail trail just keeps growing

Alia Parker's picture
The green rolling farm land of South Gippsland. Visions Victoria. Cycle Traveller

Victoria is firmly cementing its name as the cycling holiday state, with the Great Southern Rail Trail in South Gippsland slowly but surely growing into another safe long-distance ride, with further extensions highly likely.

The latest extension to the Great Southern, a 10km stretch between Toora and Welshpool, opened on 7 February 2015, taking the total length between Leongatha and Welshpool via Foster to 68km.

Works to complete a 3km 'missing link' near Koonwarra are currently under way and expected to be finished this year, with the new section to include three trestle bridges and remove the need for cyclists to temporarily divert to the highway.

With this vision nearing fruition, talk at the local council has turned toward growing the trail even longer, The Star newspaper reported last month.

Jeannette Harding, the mayor of South Gippsland Shire, told the newspaper that the rail trail could be extended from Leongatha to Korumburra using an easement alongside the existing railway line.

Family cycling the Great Southern Rail Trail. Visions Victoria. Cycle TravellerSuch an extension would see the Great Southern span 85km, and 91km if combined with an existing bike route between Welshpool and Port Welshpool.

Elsewhere in Victoria, the 100km Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail and the 134km Great Victorian Rail Trail have grown to become popular tourist destinations, with the Murray to the Mountains said to attract 30,000 cyclists to the towns along the trail each year.

South Gippsland Shire Council believes a bike route spanning their scenic region would attract millions of dollars to the local economy per annum.

With Korumburra just 118km from the centre of Melbourne, plans to continue the rail trail in that direction to attract more cyclists to South Gippsland are attractive.

“It’s just a dream that we have at the moment, but we are all feeling quietly confident that we will be able to achieve that one because the backbone is already there,” Cr Harding told The Star.

“The public needs to know there is enough space there for the trail to go alongside the railway line and it won’t interrupt the train.”

She said councillors would consult the community, the council and State Government about the idea before making a more definite proposal.

The Great Southern Rail Trail currently runs through green dairy farmland as well as areas of low scrub, bush and a section of dense forest. It is mostly flat with gentle railway grade undulations on a compacted gravel surface. As the trail nears the coast near Foster, it has views out over Wilsons Promontory and Corner Inlet.

Images from top: 1. The green rolling farm land of South Gippsland. 2. Family cycling the rail trail. Source: Visions Victoria.

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