Bicycle Network: Regional Routes
Port Fairy-Warrnambool Rail Trail - Campaign updates
The vision is for a 30km recreational trail starting at Lake Pertobe in Warrnambool, passing through fertile farmland to Koroit (with a connection to Tower Hill Reserve), and finishing at the delightful village of Port Fairy
Rail Trail Opening set for Thursday 31 May
29 May 2012. We are delighted to advise that Mayor of Moyne Shire Council, Cr Jim Doukas, together with Mayor of Warrnambool City Council,
Cr Jacinta Ermacora, are opening the Port Fairy to Warnambool Rail Trail this Thursday, 31 May 2012.
The opening ceremony will be at The Koroit Railway Station, Bourke Avenue, Koroit at 11:00am.
There are three major trail heads where you can start or complete your journey:
- Warrnambool breakwater precinct;
- Koroit Railway Station; and
- Regent Street in Port Fairy.
The success of this wonderful trail was realised due to funding from the Regional Partnerships Programme , that contributed - $935,000 to help build the Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail. This commitment, when combined with local contributions and the recent commitment of $850,000 from the State Government, has enabled a high quality rail trail between Warrnambool and Port Fairy.
Further information about the Trail and planning your trip can be found on our webpage: and also on the official trail webpage.
Progress swamped on Rail trail
14 June 2011. When your rail trail goes through a swamp you have to expect a few rain delays, but the Port Fairy - Warrnambool Rail Trail has faced a year long wet season as it approaches Kelly's Swamp.
This has been particularly exasperating for riders who had hoped that this final link on the trail would have been open by now.
Kelly's Swamp is between the west end of Warrnambool and Illowa. Generally, the region is wetter than many other places in Victoria, so in combination with the significant rain since last winter, construction is now impossible for the time being.
Much of this section will be boardwalked, which means the area needs to be dry enough to get in to build the required structures. This will happen as soon as possible, though it may be as long as spring or summer at this stage.
While this is frustrating, it has been a common problem across Victoria this year with a number of bridge structures delayed due to weather. This is the final section of this trail and it will be completed as soon as the conditions allow it.
If nothing else the prolonged wet will ensure tremendous growth of native vegetation along the trail, some planted by local school children eager to ride the route.
Underpass sees daylight
27 April 2010. The opening of significant sections of the Port Fairy - Warrnambool Rail Trail moves inexorably closer with the news that Moyne Shire is expected to put the finishing touches on the section from Port Fairy to Illowa, which includes the now complete underpass connecting the trail beneath the Princes Highway.
The work on the underpass was carried out in February, allowing Moyne Shire to continue on building the trail towards Illowa. With the exception of minor tweaks and improvements, most of the work on this section is expected to be complete either this week or next. This section will finish at Kelly's Swamp, leaving a gap between where the Moyne section of trail ends and the Warrnambool section begins - for the time being.
Responsibility Kelly's Swamp section lies with Moyne Shire. This section is more technically complex than most of the rest of the trail, and has outstanding environmental and stakeholder issues that need to be resolved. The impending winter rains could again hinder construction work this year. Bicycle Network Victoria will keep in close contact with the Shire to ensure that this final section of the trail is delivered as quickly as practicable.
Progress continues, slowly but steadily. Riders have been licking their lips for for the completion of the trail - hopefully the wait will not be much longer.
Behind the scenes tour shocks Great Vic Riders
30 November 2009. Riders arrived in Port Fairy on Day three of this year's Great Vic in bright sunshine after days of rain, and a few intrepid souls joined Bicycle Network Victoria staff to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail.
Riders found the trail still under construction, and guarded with barbed wire and electric fences, but with Moyne Shire's permission and taking care to not electrocute themselves riders were able to access the first 4km of the new trail before hitting the incomplete bridges racing towards completion over the Moyne River.
Two bridges between Port Fairy and Koroit are nearing completion and about 1km of trail between them are still unbuilt. The other sections on the Port Fairy side are tracking well which bodes well for a successful opening - hopefully in early 2010. All riders present gave the trail a positive early review, calling the surface, "lovely", "very good" and "excellent", which at this early stage before the surface is completed and trail-side vegetation removed, is very welcome.
There is still ample work to complete, such as the construction of an underpass at the Princes Highway at Illowa, and finalising the Warrnambool end, including the boardwalk work through Kelly's Swamp, but after today, the Trail looks to have a bright future.
Rain rules out Great Vic trail test
11 November 2009. Members and Great Vic Riders who have been closely following the developments on the Port Fairy - Warrnambool Rail Trail construction with the hope of being able to ride parts of it on day three of the Great Victorian Bike Ride, will be a bit disappointed today.
Trail managers have been working overtime to get the route ready to ride when the Great Vic comes to town, but adverse weather conditions through winter have kept them from being able to finish the remaining bridges between Port Fairy and Koroit.
Unfortunately, testing the trail fully later this month will not be a possibility.
In exchange, Bicycle Network Victoria has organized an inspection of the incomplete trail, departing from the Port Fairy Station site (Monday's Great Vic lunch spot) in the afternoon. Final start time is still being worked out, but the tour will take in the first 4km of the Trail, up to the first incomplete bridge.
The inspection is designed to give members a behind-the-scenes look at a trail under construction, with plenty of time for questions and discussion. All interested riders are welcome. At this point, it's looking good for us to be able to take our bikes on the inspection.
More information on the final details of the inspection will be available closer to the start of the Ride, and from the Happy Helpers on site.
Will Great Vic Riders test the Trail?
21 August 2009. Construction teams are racing against time to get sections of the Port Fairy - Warrnambool Rail Trail ready for a try out when this year's Great Vic sweeps through Port Fairy, but the welcome wet winter weather is hampering work on a number of bridges.
With the Ride expected to roll into Port Fairy on the morning of 30 November, Moyne Shire and the City of Warrnambool have set a target for the Trail to be at least partly complete for riders to try out.
The important stretch is between Port Fairy and Koroit. The surface is mostly complete now, but a number of small bridges still need to be constructed to make the route between the towns seamless.
It is hoped that if the bridges can be done in time, that Great Victorian Bike Riders will have the option of a leisurely afternoon ride up the trail for a coffee and cake in Koroit as an added attraction during the Port Fairy stopover.
Work at the Warrnambool end is expected to be done by this time as well, but there will be further delays as a section of boardwalk is constructed through Kelly's Swamp, and the crossing of the Princes Highway at Illowa (possibly with an underpass) is completed.
This work is expected to be finished in early 2010, just in time for riders who have whetted their appetites for the Trail during the Great Victorian Bike Ride to return for the opening of the entire Trail.
Stay tuned to this page to follow progress as 30 November approaches.
Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail progressing well
29 January 2009. Bicycle Network Victoria staff spent the last few days in Warrnambool and Port Fairy reviewing progress on the trail and meeting with local Council officers about a range of bike riding issues. High on the agenda was checking construction of the Rail Trail, and expected to possibly be completed by the end of 2009.
In short, progress is impressive and tracking well.
Warrnambool City has completed a concrete shared path along Breakwater Road that connects the Warrnambool foreshore and breakwater to the trail, Warrnambool Station, and the CBD (photo on left, below.)
The trail from the Station to this concrete path has already been surfaced with a granitic sand material similar to what has recently been used for the Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail (photo on right, below.) This is the material that will be used for the balance of Warrnambool's section of the trail.
The trail at the Warrnambool end turns Northwest along the Merri River and follows a more coastal route. It does not follow the railway alignment. Much of the alignment to the west of Warrnambool Station is still live and used for freight traffic. Further on, nearing the border of Moyne Shire, the Princes Highway sits on the disused alignment.
The alternate route is more scenic than the old railway alignment, and will make for a cracking ride. Warrnambool will be providing us with a detailed map of their route and we will update this page with that map when we receive it. City officers expect to be finished major work on their part of the trail by June.
The alignment avoids the old railway bridge over the Merri River at Dennington, but we were really pleased to see how keen Warrnambool staff were to move ahead with exploring options to develop this route back into town as well.
As a rail trail option it will be too far off a project to rely on to make the connection in the current planning between Warrnambool and Port Fairy, and additionally, the coastal route current being built will offer a more scenic ride. However, as Dennington grows, this option from the bridge back towards Warrnambool as both a transportation and recreational route will be in demand.
Moyne Shire is tracking well with their section of the trail as well, which is an encouraging outcome because they have two thirds of the 30 km trail to cover versus the one third that Warrnambool is responsible for.
The first 1.5 km section of trail leading out from Port Fairy is sealed and is already enjoying heavy usage (photo below, on left - although not reflective of its popularity!) From the end of the sealed portion, the trail will continue along the railway alignment past Tower Hill, through Koroit, to meet the Warrnambool section at Illowa.
This section will be topped with a limestone material (photo below, on right,) which is already in place and will be graded, smoothed and compacted over the coming year.
Moyne Shire has 12 bridges that are in need of repair or replacement, and this will be a priority over the coming year. All going well, they expect that the majority of work will be done by the end of 2009, meaning that we will look to be able to ride this trail from Warrnambool to Port Fairy by Christmas.
Keep and eye out...and get ready.
'Tuff' or Limestone?
17 September 2008. 'The Whale Trail' is nearing some significant construction milestones. The section from Port Fairy to Koroit will be surfaced from November and we're excited about the plan to be able to ride that stretch by April. The question is: what kind of material should be used to do the surfacing?
Two materials are under consideration. One is a limestone material, and the other is a volcanic ash called tuff. We're seeking feedback from anyone in the bike riding world who may have some technical expertise to share regarding which surface would be better suited to being used.
We're after comments on which surface would be more suitable given the local climate and geography, in particular how well either one would drain and hold up to the heavier rains of the region over time. Additionally, important consideration needs to be given about which one would make a more comfortable surface for riding, bearing in mind things like suitability of the material to provide an enjoyable ride for all manner of bikes.
Please write to us with your comments. The trail managers are planning on installing a small test section with both kinds of material soon, which will help evaluate the pros and cons of each in a real-world trial. Armed with your feedback, we'll be better equipped to help make a choice on the best surface material and ensure the best possible trail gets built.
Trail fit for a whale
25 August 2008. Work on the Warrnambool to Port Fairy rail trail, rapidly gaining the moniker 'The Whale Trail', is raising excitement in the bike riding community.
Members and project managers have recently confirmed that construction on various sections of the trail continues apace, with the realization that the 37k trail, to be completed by the end of next year, will be a big hit with riders.
These photos sent in recently by one of our members who was out riding in the area show substantial progress at the Warrnambool end of the trail, connecting the Rail Trail from the Stanley Street end out towards Stingray Bay and Logans Beach.
Whale watching by bike is becoming a serious option!
Caption: Looking towards and away from Stingray Bay near the Stanley Street roundabout
The section leading out from Lake Pertobe from behind the Warrnambool train station is also under construction, as far the Woollen Mills precinct.
Work at the Port Fairy end is also moving quickly. The 1.5 km stretch of path leading out of town is complete. Construction on the trail from Port Fairy to Illowa, which is a large proprtion of the total length, will begin in October and should be complete by April of next year according to project managers.
Watch this space for updates as construction nears completion and we get closer to being able to ride the complete stretch of trail all the way from Warrnambool to Port Fairy.
The first section almost completed
April 08 Construction has begun on the first 1.5 km section in Port Fairy, due to be completed before June.
Works have also commenced at the Warrnambool end of the rail trail. This section is from the Stanley Street roundabout (along the eastern side of the Merri River) to Gillies Street.
Fencing works in the rural section of the rail trail should start in the next month. Pathway construction is likely to be performed in the spring/summer.
Sections and elements of the rail trail will be progressively completed and opened between now and late 2009. The entire project is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2009.
Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail gets $935,000 from the Federal Government
Dec 06 Christmas has come early in the south west with Member for Wannon the hon David Hawker MP announcing that the Regional Partnerships Programme will contribute $935,000 to help build the Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail.
This commitment, when combined with local contributions and the recent commitment of $850,000 from the State Government, ensures a high quality rail trail will be built between Warrnambool and Port Fairy.
The announcement coincides with a study that shows visitors to rail trails spend $258 per person per day. Businesses in Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Koroit should get ready for a surge in customers, particularly at quality food and beverage outlets. Click here for more on the rail trail economic study.
Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail gets $850,000 from the State Government
Oct 06 Minister for State and Regional Development, John Brumby, has announced that the $2.2 million rail trail linking Port Fairy and Warrnambool will be built with the help of an $850,000 grant from Regional Development Victoria.
“The Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail is the first project to be announced as part of the Bracks Government’s $8 million Provincial Pathways Program,” Mr Brumby said. Minister Brumby's media release can be viewed here.
Detailed designs are currently being completed for the rail trail. Construction should begin in early 2007 and will take between 18 to 24 months.
Warrnambool Council and Moyne Shire have applied to the Federal Government for similar funding and should know if they are successful in the coming months.
Seeking funding to start construction
May 06. Both the Warrnambool and Moyne Shires have pledged their support and necessary funds to gain State and Federal government funding for the trail. The councils are now working hard to complete funding applications. The aim is to commence construction work in January 2007.
In preparation for this a Friends of the Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail group has just been formed. If you would like to help out the group, wherever you are from, contact the coordinator Bev Dowdell ph 5561 2010 email firstname.lastname@example.org
April 06 - Bicycle Network Victoria recently met with the federal member for Wannon, The Hon David Hawker MP, seeking his support for the Warrnambool to Port Fairy rail trail. Mr Hawker is very supportive of the trail and will be offering his support to the project when Moyne and Warrnambool councils submit their funding applications to the state and federal governments.
If you would like to show your support for the rail trail, send an email to Mr Hawker (David.Hawker.MP@aph.gov.au) to let him know how valuable you think this trail is to the south-west and that his support is welcomed and needed.
Jun 05. Bicycle Network Victoria is working with the Rail Trail Committee of Management to secure funding to start construction of the rail trail.
We met with state and federal government representatives in May to discuss the likelihood of being successful in obtaining funding through state and federal grants and the response has been encouraging. We have also been investigating potential corporate involvement.
In order to secure state and federal funding, both Moyne Shire and Warrnambool City Council need to be involved. We hope to meet with councillors from both municipalities in the near future to secure their support for the project.
In April 2005 Moyne Shire Council allocated $7,500 in their budget towards the rail trail provided Warrnambool City Council also contributes $7,500. With support and involvement from both councils, this relatively small amount of council funds can be used to attract large amounts of state and federal funding, as well as corportate contributions.
At this stage we are unsure of the level of committment from both councils to participate in the process to secure state, federal and corporate funding.
In March 2005 a rail trail feasibility study was prepared after extensive research, a series of workshops, public meetings, and interviews with a mixture of key stakeholders including a number of landowners adjoining the railway corridor.
It outlines how a rail trail would be developed, how much it would cost and the management issues associated with such a trail, along with the conditions that need to be met to successfully allow the rail trail conversion.
The original railway line is overgrown in places, weeds have taken over, fences have deteriorated and the old bridges have become unusable since the railway ceased operations in 1977.The consulting team has compiled a detailed report on the works needed along the reserve to enable use by walkers and cyclists.
These improvements include trail surfacing, fencing and gates, bridge restoration, safe road crossings, signposting and interpretation.
The study reviewed concerns of neighbouring landowners and identified linkages from the trail to other local and regional attractions.