Bicycle Network: Regional Routes
The Great Victorian Rail Trail: Campaign updates
Thanks to unprecedented Federal Government funding, this has become Australia's biggest single Rail Trail project. Initially named the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail.
A name to reflect its significance
1 Jul 2013. After going through a passionate rebranding process, Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail has been renamed to reflect its great national significance.
Following much debate and discussion, we can now confirm that the Rail Trail has a name to match its status as the longest rail trail in Victoria and the longest continuous rail trail in Australia - The Great Victorian Rail Trail. It is a bold and aspirational name, helping to position this important recreational asset as a Rail Trail experience of national significance.
The change was endorsed by the three shires who are part of the trail - Mitchell Shire Council, Murrindindi Shire and Mansfield Shire.
A suggested change to 'River High Line' was shelved following little community support and passionate feedback with members feeling strongly that expectations should not be confused.
The official website, phone app and support material will follow soon. A signage plan and information hubs will support the official rail trail website and printed guide.
This trail is already proving popular and local businesses are telling us it is already generating considerable revenue as more riders come through.
Rail Trail opening celebrations inspire future trail development
13 June 2012 The official opening of the new Goulburn River High Country Trail was a wonderful success. The new trail opened last Friday morning by the Minister for Regional Development Simon Crean, was made possible by the Federal Government contribution of $13 million, the largest government contribution ever made to a regional rail trail.
This funding has come through from the Federal Government's Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program, and is designed as part of the Government's plan to support regional economies. This grant was especially framed in light of the long rebuilding effort that is being undertaken due to the February bushfires.
With evidence showing that Rail Trails are a substantial driver of tourism revenue and an effective way of supporting local and regional economic development, this is a wise and forward thinking investment.
The Bicycle Network have been involved right from the beginning, lobbying all levels of government to commit funds to build the trail, right through to helping to ensure that the allocated trail funding was spent on the trail and not other ancillary items.
The trail was made possible thanks primarily to federal government funding, but was supported by $1 million from State Government and $1 million from the three local governments including Mansfield, Murrindindi and Mitchell Shires.
With all three levels of government working cohesively together for shared benefit, we now have this practical example of what is possible.
While we were there, our CEO Harry Barber spoke with the Minister about other potential trails that could stimulate communities across Australia.
Please write an email of thanks to those that have made this possible to thank them for their outstanding commitment to the development of the trail. The email contacts include: Minister Albanese, Minister Crean, the State ministers Cindy McLeish and the Shires of Mansfield, Murrindindi and Mitchell.
Want to ride this fantastic new trail? Click here for all of the info you need.
*Photo of ribbon cutting courtesy of Adrian Ponton, Department of Transport
Trail official opening set for Friday 1 June
8 May 2012 We have just been advised of the Trail official opening event...
Come along to the official opening by Hon Simon Crean MP, Minister Regional Australia, Local Government and Arts
Friday 1 June 2012
To be held at: The corner of Whanregarwen Road and Goulburn Valley Hwy, Molesworth Victoria
3 May 2012. The Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail website advises that the trail is on target to be officially opened on Friday 1 June 2012. Now is the time to start thinking about being a part of this exciting event.
The trail follows the route of the former Mansfield Railway in north central Victoria, Australia, located north-east of Melbourne. The route comprises approximately 125km from Tallarook, near Seymour, through major towns of Yea and Bonnie Doon to Mansfield. An additional 13km spur to Alexandra extends from Cathkin.
Further information about the Trail and planning your trip can be found on our webpage: and also on the official trail webpage.
You can also access the full Ride On magazine review of the trail here.
So close, you can touch it... The GRHCT is open for visitors!
27 April 2012 Construction is nearing completion with the last 3 bridges currently being refurbished. These last bridges were the original timber bridges and the contractors are retaining whatever they can of the original timbers. Rain events over the last two months have caused some issues with the trail surface which the contractors have addressed. There is some tidying up happening along the trail, signage is being put in place and everything will be finished for the official opening on 1 June.
Please note: Whilst the majority of this rail trail is constructed, work is still ongoing. At the moment sections with a granitic surface are significantly softer when wet and extra time should be allowed in wet weather.
Whilst this post is up to date at the end of April, please call Mansfield to get an update of the trail to ensure you understand where diversions may currently be in place to ensure you are prepared in advance.
Please click here for a map of the GRHCT identifying: all of the attractions along the route; as distances between towns; elevations; rivers and creeks; and locations of toilets along the route.
Sleigh hits bumps on high country trail [update]
22 December 2011. The following sections of the trail will open tomorrow, 23 December:
- Molesworth to Yea, 17km
- Yea to Homewood, 8km
- Trawool to Tallarook, 11km
- Mansfield to Bonnie Doon, 22km
The project team intends to have additional sections open as soon as possible after the Christmas break. These will be communicated as they open.
15 December 2011. The hoped for Christmas opening the new Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail looks like being missed by a reindeer's whisker.
Some sections of the trail will open to the public from next Friday, 23 December. The Mansfield to Bonnie Doon section is already open and will remain so. The Tallarook to Trawool section at the western end will be open next week.
Murrindindi Shire will advise within the next few days about how much of the trail within their municipality will be open for the Christmas season. Check back on this page prior to Christmas break for updates as to final openings.
In all, the project team is hoping to have up to 90km of the trail open by Christmas. These sections will be in and around the main towns along the route although likely will not connect seamlessly across the whole trail.
As suspected, the culprit on the delays in sections is the bridges. The remaining ones will be finished as soon as conditions allow which will enable the trail to fully open.
Completion countdown for new trail
15 November 2011. Riders are holding their breath waiting for the completion of the mighty new 134k Tallarook to Mansfield rail trail, with the finish line due to be crossed in a few weeks.
The federal government funded Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail is due to be complete by 7 December, and reports suggest the construction team will come close to meeting it.
The trail will not be officially open until much later in summer, but eager beavers will be welcome before then.
The high quality trail will provide an outstanding riding experience through some of Australia's most serene and refreshing countryside, and linking to attractive rural towns and destinations.
We will alert riders when the trail is ready for riding. At this stage, even if this date is not hit on the head, riders should feel confident in looking at a trip to Victoria's newest rail trail over Christmas break or early in the New Year.
Check back here soon for final confirmation.
Serenity disturbed at Bonnie Doon
22 February 2011. Make tracks to Bonnie Doon this weekend for the festivities to mark another milestone in the development of the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail, with the opening of the section from Maindample.
The additional 8 km means there is now a beautiful 20 km stretch of high quality bike and hiking track from Mansfield to Bonnie Doon.
Only 114km to go, but the project is on track for completion this year.
The opening of the new section is on Saturday, 26 February, at 11:00am on the Bonnie Doon (western) side of the Brankeet Arm Bridge.
Festivities will include a sausage sizzle, prizes for the "most creatively decorated bike or person".
This is a great opportunity for a leisurely test of the trail, and a taste of what will be a magnificent 134 km asset for the region when it is finished.
Gate shuts on fence issue
7 December 2010. No rail trail funds will diverted to pay for the fences of property owners along the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail, the project's management has confirmed.
In a meeting last week with Bicycle Network, the Rail Trail project team clarified that that the project will proceed on schedule despite rumblings by some Murrindindi Shire councillors that they would delay the development.
A flurry of on-the-ground activity is now expected in autumn as the trail corridor dries out. Construction activity is expected along the entire route, and a completion date of December 2011 is still on target.
The project's management has indicated that it will be able to meet the construction schedule without making any financial concessions to the trails' neighbouring property owners.
Bicycle Network thanks all the local trail supporters who made themselves heard while the money-for-fences issue was running hot. The project team is to be congratulated for staying on target, and the participating local Councils did a great job for not letting a minor, local political issue hijack this significant project for the region.
There are well established legal principles covering responsibilities for maintaining property fences and Bicycle Network is pleased that these laws will be respected.
Stay tuned for upcoming milestones as construction continues in earnest during 2011
Locals rally to oppose Trail funds raid
22 November 2010. Supporters of the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail are staging a series of rallies in Murrindindi Shire to show the Council that proposals to raid the Rail Trail funds to pay for farmers' fences are not well thought of in the community.
The Goulburn Valley Rail Trail has the potential to be a wonderful asset for the Murrindindi district, but its promise is threatened by a small group who see an opportunity to suck the life blood out of the project so that tax payer funds benefit their private interests rather than benefit the community.
It beggars belief that this cash grab appears to have won backing from Murrindindi councillors, who appear to be threatening to delay the project unless these outrageous demands are met.
Rallies will be held over the following few weeks:
- 23 November 6:00pm - Yea Council Chamber, The Semi Circle, Yea
- 25 November 6:30pm - Seymour Customer Service Centre, 28 High Street, Seymour
- 8 December 6:00pm - Bonnie Doon Community Centre, Arnot Street, Bonnie Doon
All are welcome, so if you live in the area or happen to be visiting, drop by and show your support for the trail.
If you are unable to attend, but want to make your voice heard, be sure to write (politely) to the Mayor of Murrindindi Shire, Cr. Peter Beales.
Farmers threaten to fence in Trail
27 September 2010. Farmers want to take $600,000 from the budget of the new Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail to pay for new fences for their properties along the route.
They have the backing of Murrindindi Shire Council, which says the project will be put back on track if fence funding can be finalised.
Murrindindi has called a meeting of neighbouring shires participating in the project to consider available options for paying for fencing out of savings and / or funding allocations. This includes a Mansfield Shire proposal that interest earned on the project funding be directed towards fencing materials.
A town rally is scheduled for 10am at the Yea Country Market (21 Station St Yea) this Saturday, 2 October, to protest at the fencing cash grab.
It would be most unusual, not to mention legally questionable, for government funds to be expended in this way and for this purpose. It is unlikely that the funding arrangements covering the $14M for the project would permit such a move.
The Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail is a joint project being supported by Murrindindi, Mitchell and Mansfield Shires. It has been funded through the Federal Government’s Community Infrastructure Program and the State Government’s Regional Infrastructure Development Fund.
The 134-kilometre Rail Trail will connect Mansfield to Tallarook and the Goulburn Valley and Hume Freeway corridor, linking the communities of Trawool, Kerrisdale, Homewood, Yea, Molesworth, Cathkin, Alexandra, Koriella, Kanumbra, Merton, Woodfield, Bonnie Doon, Maindample and Mansfield.
It will involve the construction of 39 bridges (and repairs to 29 bridges), seven car parks, 17 rest stops; and eight water tanks.
Murrindindi Mayor Peter Beales said the shires should come together as soon as possible to discuss funding options.
“Fencing is an important component of the overall trail, and under present arrangements the cost of installing that fencing would fall to landholders along the rail trail.
“We believe that is inequitable, but Murrindindi Shire Council is not in a position to meet the full costs of fencing within our municipality. It would mean an extra impost on ratepayers and businesses, so we are looking for the best possible outcomes to get the project up and running here.
“There is no doubt that we have many passionate supporters of this project, both in our business and farming communities, so we are working diligently to explore all funding options so this multi-million project proceeds here.
“The Council does support the concept of the rail trail, but we believe fencing should be fully funded from grants pledged for the project.
“We believe that as the trail develops, there will be greater tourism benefits across the municipality. When we get cyclists and walkers along the trail we can use that opportunity to promote the many natural attractions across the Murrindindi Shire", he said.
Trail start delivers on high expectations
5 August 2010. The first section of the 134 kilometre Tallarook to Mansfield Rail Trail has opened, setting an outstanding standard for the rest of the project to live up to.
Kaye Darveniza, MLC opened the 12 km section between Mansfield and Maindample on behalf Minister for Regional and Rural Development Jacinta Allan last week.
The trail is unsealed, but boasts a beautifully smooth surface that couldn't be better to ride on.
There are a couple of short sections which are slightly boggy, but because a new material is being used, the best ways of utilizing it are still being evaluated. Measures to correct problems are already in train.
Progress is on track for the target completion date of December 2011 according to Mansfield Shire's Tourism and Economic Development Officer Ian Geer. The challenges will get more complex when multiple bridges have to be rebuilt closer to Yea where the trail will cross the Goulburn River several times, but if first impressions count for anything, riders should have confidence that they will be well taken care of.
Those participating in this year's Great Victorian Bike Ride may have the chance to test a short section of the trail that managers are hoping to complete near Yea in time for the event.
Rail trail to Mansfield begins long march
1 February 2010. Work is underway on the 134 kilometer rail trail to Mansfield, Victoria's biggest rail trail project.
Funded by $13.2 million from Federal Government stimulus package and one million from local councils, construction is off to a head start with additional money from Regional Development Victoria for the Mansfield to Maindample section.
Michael Dougall, project manager for the trail, expects full scale construction work to begin before the middle of the year.
Extensive work on planning and approvals issues such as native vegetation management is progressing and should be completed in a few months.
Stage one of major works later in the year will focus on extending the Maindample trail to Bonnie Doon, and on construction work at the Tallarook end.
Expected completion date for the entire trail is still expected at the end of 2011.
State funding boost to jump start Trail planning
9 July 2009. Local State MP Ben Hardman has recently announced further $80,000 in funding on behalf of the Victorian Government for the Goulburn Valley Rail Trail.
This money will go towards engaging and employing a project manager who will help organise and drive the development of this brand new Trail.
Even though the recently announced $14.2 million to construct the entire length of the 134 kilometer trail is a staggering sum, this extra funding dedicated to bringing a full-time project manager on board immediately.
This funding will help jump start the project, making sure that it is likely to meet stated targets of having construction finished by the end of 2011.
Bicycle Network wholeheartedly welcomes this extra assistance, and will be working with the three Councils, the new project manager and the Trail Steering group to develop this unprecedented project correctly, and quickly.
The "Before" Gallery
Commonwealth to fund fire region project
28 April 2009. Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese has announced $14.2 million to build the entire 134 km Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail.
This is unprecedented in both size and scope, and the largest contribution ever to a regional Rail Trail.
Construction of the entire Trail can be completed by the end of 2011.
This funding has come through from the Federal Government's Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program, and is designed as part of the Government's plan to support regional economies.
This grant was especially framed in light of the long rebuilding effort that is being undertaken due to the February bushfires.
With evidence showing that Rail Trails are a substantial driver of tourism revenue and an effective way of supporting local and regional economic development, this is a wise and forward-thinking investment.
Mansfield, Murrindindi and Mitchell Shires will be making a contributing $1 million of the total amount.
Please write to Minister Albanese and the local Shires with thanks for their outstanding commitment. Minister Albanese's media release outlining the funding announcement can be found here.
Route scoping underway, construction work to begin soon
9 February 2009. Mansfield Shire is closing on a final alignment for the new trail between Mansfield and Maindample.
Staff report that all site inspections, including the review of the affected bridges along the route, have gone well. The construction phase, which is expected to begin by May, will continue through June 2010.
This trail will potentially be Victoria's longest and one of its most scenic.
Estimated costs for this section total $580,700 which is within the current funding allocation of $860,000 contributed by Regional Development Victoria and the Shire.
This amount has been allocated to the 12km section between Mansfield and Maindample, so significant additional funding will be required to complete the entire 130km trail, which we will continue to push for.
We will continue to support Mansfield, Murrindindi and Mitchell Shires in their efforts to move forward with this trail.
$650,000 grant to start construction from Mansfield to Maindample!
20 October 2008. Last Monday, 13 October, State Member of Parliament for Seymour, Ben Hardman, made the very welcome announcement of this funding to help build the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail. This money will combine with $210,000 committed by Mansfield Shire Council to build the first stage of the trail - a 12 kilometre section from Mansfield Tourist Precinct to Maindample. This will be a great start on the path towards our eventual goal of a much longer trail stretching from Mansfield to Tallarook. Final planning is underway, and construction should begin early next year.
First of all, the Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Jacinta Allan, along with Ben Hardman, Member for Seymour and Bill Sykes, Member for Benalla, deserve big thanks for their support of the project. Please write to them and offer a hearty electronic pat on the back.
We are very excited that the first stage of the trail is now funded and will soon be built and rideable. As Mr. Hardman stated: "the trail would significantly boost tourism in the region", which we fully expect to happen. This area is tailor made for bicycle tourism, and a trail linking Mansfield to Seymour across 130km of trail together will unlock the potential of the region. As we've noted previously, the old line has many features that make it attractive as a tourism trail. These include the Cheviot Tunnel near Alexandra, the bridge over Lake Eildon at Bonnie Doon, the Goulburn River, and a range of interesting towns along the line.
In reading the media release, it is clear that this funding - from Regional Development Victoria's Provincial Pathways Program - has been granted to help develop tourism in regional areas; in this case Mansfield Shire and beyond. This is one of our founding arguments we have been making in favour of funding rail trails. Rail trails act as magnets for tourism dollars - attracting riders, walkers and other users to the region who may not otherwise have come. Once in place, the trail and the region will be in a position to start benefitting from the $258 per day that bike riders spend on rail trails, which will have an undeniably positive impact on driving opportunity for tourism businesses and growing that industry.
The growing recognition about the positive outcomes that this kind of investment delivers for regional areas is helping to drive projects such as this first stage of the Mansfield to Seymour trail.
We are looking forward to assisting wherever necessary in getting this trail built. As usual, we will provide progress reports as they come and keep everyone apprised about when to start circling dates in the calendar for an inaugural ride.
Mansfield Shire budgets for Bonnie Doon section
1 July 2008 Mansfield Shire Council has conditionally allocated $105,000 to start construction of the Mansfield - Bonnie Doon Rail Trail.
This represents in large part Mansfield Shire's area of jurisdiction for the larger Goulburn River Trail.
Congratulations to Council for making a tangible committment to the development of the trail. This is a fantastic step that demonstrates their intention to support the development with real money. Write to Council and let them know how supportive you are of their decision. This is an example of the kind of necessary committment that we have highlighted in the "what we are asking for" section (right), and quite rightly Bicycle Network is pleased to see progress.
However, this allocation comes with significant qualifying considerations. While adopted as part of the 2008-09 budget, this money will only be spent if other funding totalling $325,000 can be leveraged from other sources such as other levels of government, and will not be spent if this additional money is not secured.
The combined funds of $430,000 are earmarked in the budget to support the development of Stage One of this section of trail, from Mansfield to Maindample.
Making a budget committment is a key consideration when other levels of government consider funding rail trail projects, so this allocation will certainly bolster Mansfield's case. Bicycle Network will work with both the Shire and other government agencies and departments to secure the additional funding to ensure this stage of the trail goes ahead soon. Bicycle Network has already raised this issue with Regional Development Victoria and will be working with them to try and move this project forward.
Mitchell Shire is on the right trail
May 08 The proposed rail trail leg for Mitchell Shire has taken an important step after Council supported recommendations to seek funds for its nearly $1.88 million part of the project. An initial draft plan was released but not adopted and so an advisory committee was formed in 2006 and then late 2007 engaged GMR Engineering Services to determine its costings and feasibility for Mitchell Shire.
With five of council's nine councillors voting in support of the project as recommended by staff,
the decision appears to bring to an end more than two years of debate about the future of Mitchell Shire's share of the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail since the release of its draft design and business plan.
The proposed trail would travel along the former railway line from Tallarook to Mansfield.
Murrindindi and Mansfield shire councils have agreed to support their legs of the trail.
In his report, Council's Economic Development Co-ordinator Shane Stanford recommended that:
- Council agree to undertake to access funding from federal and state governments for funding construction of the trail
- Council agree to provide an ongoing maintenance contribution to the trail subject to discussions with respective stakeholders
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) be entered into with Murrindindi and Mansfield Shire Councils to create an overarching managing body to develop the construction and maintenance of the rail trail
- Council seek VicRoads and Victrack approval for the trail works.
Another issue for the trail identified in Mitchell Shire will be its crossing of the Goulburn Valley Hwy at Trawool. Three options were considered:
- a trail under the bridge along the river at $120 000
- an underpass under the highway at $200 000
- or a crossing directly across the road surface at $30 000 (one crossing 30 m back from the intersection and the second crossing 20 m east on the highway with advance warning signage, rumble strips, etc).
The GMR Engineering Services recommended the last option.
North–South Water Pipeline can kickstart stalled rail trail project.
Sep 07 The Sugerloaf Interconnector is a new water pipeline linking the Goulburn River near Yea with Melbourne's water supply. This very large project is currently being planned and Bicycle Network has asked the State Government to consider the Tallarook-Mansfield Rail Trail as a part of the project.
By incorporating the rail trail project the pipeline can provide three main benefits for local communities and Victoria:
1. At a minimum the pipeline project can build the rail trail on the pipeline bridges that will be constructed across the Yea River near Yea. The old rail bridges are in poor condition and the cost of repair has currently stalled the development of the trail in this area. These bridges could, with additional Government funding, result in the trail running from Yea to the spectacular Cheviot Tunnel (see below)
2. The development of the Sugerloaf Interconnector is the perfect opportunity for the State Government to kickstart the whole rail trail project by providing funding for trail construction from Tallarook to Mansfield and Eildon. The pipeline project will have some impacts on the communities and businesses on Lake Eildon and along the Goulburn River. These communities have been attempting to construct the rail trail to build tourism opportunities that are not dependent on water in the lake or river. Unfortunately this has all but stalled due a lack of local funds and a lack of community resources because of the extreme hardship from prolonged drought and extreme fires.
3. The route of the Sugerloaf Interconnector could provide a link between the proposed Lilydale – Yarra Glen – Healesville Rail Trail and the Tallarook–Mansfield Rail Trail. We have asked the Minister for Water and Tourism, Tim Holding, to investigate the feasibility of constructing a walking and cycling trail with the new pipeline. This trail could link Yea and Yarra Glen and would result in a tourism boom for the Yarra and Goulburn Valleys.
You can do two things to help:
- Send an email to the Mayors of the Councils along the rail trail to let them know that there is support for the rail trail and that they should be pressuring the State Government to complete the trail.
- Send and email to the Minister for Water and Tourism and Water, Tim Holding, and the Minister for Regional Development, Jacinta Allan, to let them know what you think the State Goverment should be doing for the Tallarook - Mansfield Rail Trail.
Alexandra to Eildon trail could be built as aprt of new water pipe project
Aug 07 - Local campaigners from the tourism and education sectors have been working with Goulburn Valley Water to get a trail built alongside a new water pipe between the towns of Eildon to Alexandra.
Goulburn Valley Water have been positive about the project and are currently assessing the feasibility and funding options. Click on email me updates above to be informed of any developments.
Councils adopt concept design and will now seek funding!
Jul 06 - The Mitchell, Murrindindi and Mansfield Councils have now adopted the Concept Design and Business Plan for the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail.
The three councils have passed motions to adopt the concept design for the rail trail, set up advisory groups, and seek government funding for the project.
This is a great moment after a long and sometimes difficult process of gaining support for this project. This trail is now destined to become one of the regions most loved tourism and recreational facilities. Congratulations to all involved.
Jul 05 A series of public meetings were held in Tallarook, Yea and Mansfield to inform the community of what is happening with trail development. They were well attended by a variety of people including landowners who have concerns about the rail trail.
The meetings provided opportunity for people to ask questions about the trail and how it will be managed and maintained.
The concept design and business plan for Stage 1 of the rail trail will allow for a section of trail in each of the three shires:
- Tallarook to Granite (Mitchell Shire)
- Homewood to Yea (Murrindindi Shire)
- Maindample to Mansfield (Mansfield Shire).
A project management committee that consists of a councillor and council officer from each shire will oversee the project.
Background to the rail trail
An old railway line once operated between Tallarook and Mansfield, with a branch line to Alexandra.
The old line has many features that make it attractive as a tourism trail. These include the Cheviot Tunnel near Alexandra (pictured at top of page), the bridge over Lake Eildon at Bonnie Doon, the Goulburn River (pictured left) and interesting towns along the line.
In 2001 a feasibility study for the proposed trail was conducted. A joint council application by Mansfield, Murrindindi and Mitchell Shires in 2004 was successful in securing $145,000 from the Australian Tourism Development Program and the Regional Partnerships program.