Bicycle Network: Where to Ride
Old Beechy Rail Trail
This rail trail south of Colac in the Otway Ranges has several complete sections which can be walked or cycled. The surface is gravel and not suitable for skinny tyre bikes.
South of Colac in the Otway Ranges, this 45km trail is best suited to Mountain bikers.
Enjoy the scenic native forests, rich farmland and rolling hills with the roar of the coast nearby as you traverse mountain biking tracks which range from beginners to advanced.
The trail is open between Colac and Beech Forest, albeit with several on road diversions. The remaining section of the former railway between Beech Forest and Crowes is planned as a future development.
The Old Beechy Rail Trail surface consists of compacted gravel surface, suitable for most bikes with wider tyres
On the section between Gellibrand and Beech Forest where it is necessary to divert in parts onto the old Colac-Beech Forest Road, this road has a surface of heavy gravel where mountain bikes with wide tyres are recommended.
Trail route description
The first 10.8km of the Rail Trail, from Colac railway station to just south of Barongarook, is located along local roads.
Another 4 km section, between Birnum & Kawarren of the former railway right of way is also not accessible for public use. In this instance the Rail Trail is located along forest access track, a powerline easement and a closed road easement.
Most of the remaining sections of the Rail Trail are located either on the former railway formation or very close to it. A slight diversion through farmland in the last 2 km of the rail trail has also been necessary approaching
Because of the necessary deviations from the original rail route, the total Rail Trail distance, Colac to
NOTE: Cyclists and hikers need to take care on all roads in the Otway Ranges, particularly between Colac and Beech Forest as log truck traffic is quite frequent.
Users of the Old Beechy Rail Trail also need to be aware of the extreme fire danger potential in the forest areas, particularly where the Rail Trail traverses pine and blue gum plantations.
Suggested ride options
The two main open sections of trail are:
Birnam station & picnic ground to Maggios Rd (4.8km)
Gellibrand to Wimba (9.5km).
These can be combined with local gravel roads to make longer rides or loop rides. See below for more details.
Ride option 1: Colac to Birnam loop
Confident cyclists can start in Colac at the train station and ride south on the Colac-Lavers Hill Rd for 7km. Turn left at Barongarook Rd (sealed) and continue for approx 4.5km to Robinson Rd (which is signposted and has a row of letter boxes at the entrance). Turn right onto the good quality dirt road and follow it south for a short distance to a gravel road on the right which has an Old Beechy line sign at the entrance.
Turn right and the rail trail is a short distance on your left (look for the sign and wooden posts). Follow the gravel rail trail for 4.8km on a gentle downhill slope. The trail passes through state forest of tall eucalypts and fern gullies and emerges at Birnam station site and picnic area.
Turn right and follow Cashins Rd (gravel) for a short distance until it comes out at Colac-Lavers Hill Rd. Turn right at the main road and head back to Colac.
Ride option 2: Birnam picnic area loop (easy)
The Birnam station site and picnic area can be accessed off the Colac-Lavers Hill Rd approx 15km south of Colac at Cashins Rd. The picnic area and trail start is approx 1km along Cashins Rd.
Ride along the trail, which is a gradual uphill climb through pretty forest of tall eucalypts. The trail comes out at Maggios Rd approximately 4.8km later. Turn right and follow the signs pointing to Birnam station picnic area, which will take you downhill along a dirt road (Robinsons Rd) back to the starting point. Alternatively return to Birnam station on the rail trail for a 9.5km return trip.
Ride option 3: Gellibrand to Beech Forest loop
The old rail line ran between Colac-Lavers Hill Rd and Beech Forest Rd. The trail starts at an open area (with piles of dirt) underneath power lines at the southern end of Gellibrand.
Go through a gate and follow the trail through farmland (the main road is visible on your right). The trail winds through hilly country (fortunately no steep grades on a former rail line!) for approximately 5kms. The trail passes through pine plantations and ends near Banool on the Colac-Beech Forest Rd. Ride along the gravel road for a couple of kilometres until the next section of trail is visible.
Wooden fences mark the entrance to the trail. Follow it for approx 1km, cross the Colac-Beech Forest Rd and follow the trail for another kilometre until it ends in a plantation near Wimba.
Rejoin the gravel Colac-Beech Forest Rd and follow it for approximately 9km to Beech Forest. Turn right at Beech Forest onto the sealed road.
Ride approx 4km until the Colac-Lavers Hill Rd intersection at Ferguson and turn right back towards Gellibrand and Colac on the main road.
Ride option 4: Colac to Beech Forest Loop
Combine the descriptions of the three ride options for a long ride starting in Colac and passing through Barongarook, along the rail trail to Birnam, then the main road to Gellibrand.
Follow the rail trail from Gellibrand and use the Old Beech Forest Rd to get to Beech Forest and return to Colac along the main road (or retrace your steps back to Colac).
History of the rail trail
The rail line operated from early last century to 1962 between Colac and Crowes, serving communities in the Otway Ranges. Groceries and other essentials were hauled in and farm produce and timber was carried out.
The line traversed open farm lands before entering dense forest near Barongarook, wending its way through fern gullies and tall timbers.
When closed some of the former railway was sold to adjoining landowners but a good portion of the route remains as public land, crown reserve or in Shire ownership. A rail trail committee was formed and is converting as much of the former railway as they can to a walking/cycling rail trail. So far 14 km of the former 71km rail line has been opened.
To become a member of the 'Friends of the Old Beechy Rail Trail' contact The Secretary, 765 Colac-Lavers Hill Rd, Barongarook, Vic 3249.