Location: Traralgon to Stratford
Distance: 63km one way
Surface: Mostly gravel with some sections of compacted earth
Start: Intersection of Marshalls Road and the Traralgon-Maffra Road (C105)
Finish: Apex Park, Stratford, beside the Avon River
Open: No seasonal closures
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
More information: gippslandplainsrailtrail.com.au
Peaceful and accessible, the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail takes in history, artistic expression and natural beauty.
Start your journey in the regional hub of Traralgon, where four restored bridges keep you high above the Latrobe Valley floodplain. Cycle through the fertile pasture and stands of native bushland of Central Gippsland, passing through small towns brimming with history, art, food and drink along the way. You can even ride one way and return by train thanks to train stations at both ends of the trail.
High above the Latrobe River
The official trailhead is at the intersection of Marshalls Road and the Traralgon-Maffra Road, though the best access is from the car park on Burnetts Road about 1.5 kilometres along the trail towards Glengarry.
The arrival into Glengarry along the beautifully surfaced trail is understandably the most popular section of the trail, with the four bridges rising above the spectacular Latrobe River floodplain. Watch for foot and other bike traffic on the weekends. Check out the old Glengarry railway station and goods-yard crane and grab a coffee from the bakery before saddling up again.
Gold rush, a hidden gallery and native flowers
Cross the wooden deck over the tranquil Eaglehawk Creek and coast along the fine gravel trail into Toongabbie. Take a quick break to see the Ned Stringer Memorial commemorating the 1862 discovery of gold, which brought the gold rush to nearby Walhalla.
As you leave Toongabbie the northern horizon rises with the most southerly foothills of the Great Dividing Range, the spine of Australia’s east coast. Cruise along to the sounds of birdsong drifting between the red gums and mooing from cattle until your arrive at Cowwarr. Take a break and find some inspiration at the Cowwarr Art Space, which houses rotating exhibitions and the studio of sculptor Clive Murray-White.
After Cowwarr you skip across the Rainbow Creek to Cowwarr-Heyfield Road. Take care here as the trail gives way to quiet public roads as it diverts around the Thomson River. Follow the signs until you rejoin the rail trail at the Dawson Flora Reserve, a section of protected flora that's home to many beautiful native plants. Slow your pace as you make your way to Heyfield.
Riding over the River Avon
Easy going on flat, hard-packed gravel saves you from the ominous promises of Boggy Creek, which the trail passes en route to the small hamlet of Tinamba and then on to Maffra. Riders pass along the Billabong Trail – a beautiful and unique ecosystem of dense vegetation reminiscent of a tropical rainforest – and then sweep across the bridge spanning the Macalister River.
The trail passes through the Main Street of Maffra then resumes near the Maffra Motor Museum, passing by Powerscourt and the Avon Ridge Winery before its culmination at Stratford. Cross the broad Avon River to Stratford, then do a sharp U-turn to your left back under the bridge and into Apex Park. Grab a celebratory drink before boarding the train back to Traralgon. Or continue into town for a snack before catching the train back to Traralgon.
Suggested shorter options
Traralgon to Cowwarr, 28km one way
Start at the off-road car park at Burnetts Road in Traralgon, about 1.5 kilometres along from the trailhead, and cross the four restored bridges above the Latrobe River floodplain on your way to the old Glengarry railway station. Continue through the rural landscape, crossing Eaglehawk Creek to Toongabbie and catching glimpses of the most southerly foothills of the Great Dividing Range before reaching the historic and artistic town of Cowwarr.
Suggested wheelchair accessible options
Traralgon to Glengarry, 9km one way
Start at the off-road car park at Burnetts Road in Traralgon, about 1.5 kilometres along from the trailhead. The newly-finished trail on the section to Glengarry takes in the four Latrobe River bridges on the way to the old Glengarry railway station.