Bicycle Network: Regional Routes
Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail
The latest developments and improvements on the trail
Election opportunity for candidates to show support
22 August 2012 Bicycle Network has identified this project as a local council priority for the 2012 Local Government election. Candidates should be ready to support the development and full or partial funding of this project in conjunction with State Government and can tell riders in their Council area their position by posting their candidates' statement at VoteBike.
New Gregory Street connection fluffed with bad bollards
11 March 2011. The completed Gregory Street off-road path connection, linking the terminus of the Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail from the Ring Road to Wendouree Lake and Gardens, suffers from a glaring inclusion.
Any time the City of Ballarat wants to recover this fumble, it will be warmly received by Ballarat and visiting bike riders.
Ironing out kinks on Ballarat link (updated)
5 October 2009. The off-road shared path between along Gregory Street West between the Rail Trail and Lake Wendouree is close to completion, with a few remaining kinks to be soon ironed out.
When Bicycle Network staff checked progress recently some potential issues with the design of the path at the corner of Gregory and Gillies St, just to the northwest of Lake Wendouree, were immediately evident.
These photos show clearly the risk posed by a number of obstructions. We also discovered that the alignment of the path as it comes around the corner from Gregory Street into Gillies Street, is far too tight with poor sightlines.
These concerns were raised with the City of Ballarat, which has indicated that these issues are already on their radar, and will be addressed before the path is completed. Bicycle Network is currently awaiting the provision of details of the changes to this intersection.
Finally, keen eyed observers will note that Gillies St, in the photo at left is a busy road, and that no provision for a crossing is in place. Bicycle Network calls for the addition of a controlled crossing across Gillies St, and will work to have one installed as soon as possible.
Update (8 October)
This route has been redesigned, and is expected to be completed by the end of October.
Telecommunications work along the Trail not expected to impact riders
12 August 2009. Telstra will be conducting telecommunications works along the route of the Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail between Haddon and Scarsdale, starting 31 August and expected to finish on 30 September.
They will be replacing and installing missing optical fibre cable marker posts. These posts will be set back 5m from the centre line of the Trail, which will not affect the route once the work is completed.
Work is expected to take place primarily on weekdays, but will not be closed. Riders are asked to be aware of the impending works. No work is expected on weekends, leaving access free for a Saturday or Sunday ride.
Rail Trail a hit with Western Port Secondary College
18 December 2008. Western Port Secondary College, one of the many school groups participating in the 2008 Great Victorian Bike Ride, took advantage of the opportunity to try out the Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail on final day of the ride while heading towards the finish line in Ballarat.
The Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail intersected with the ride route at the corners of Finchs Road and Cuthberts Road in West Ballarat/Alfredton. The Western Port Secondary riders decided to seize the opportunity to try out the trail.
"We'd been hearing a bit about the trail during the ride, and about how good it was since its re-opening, so we were keen to give it a try," said Tom, a year 8 student from Western Port. "It was a pretty smooth ride actually, not much different from riding on the road. It was fun."
Students Luke, Tom and Ben on the Trail (right), and Tom on the Great Victorian Bike Ride route (left).
This is yet another piece of good news about the Trail, which has been generating positive reviews over the past couple of months since its re-opening on 29 October.
Rider Testimonials - The Trail is "excellent"
24 November 2008. One of our members has recently written to us with very favourable comments about the Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail. As a rider new to trails, it was great to hear that the Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail "a great ride, very enjoyable," and "the trail and surrounds are excellent."
This is the second time in a month that this member has been on the Trail, and most importantly, will be bringing more riders back again to try the trail.
This is really exciting news, and is welcome feedback! If anyone else has comments from a recent ride on the trail, or after trying it out this Friday, 28 November at the Great Victorian Bike Ride Pre-Ride Day, please let us know.
Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail now officially open for business.
29 October 2008. With the official opening of the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail, Victoria's portfolio of high quality trails is a great deal richer.
Cr Stephen Jones, Mayor of the City of Ballarat, Cr Des Guinane, Mayor of Golden Plains Shire, and Cr Ruth Gstrein, Mayor of Corangamite Shire together cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the trail.
The three Councils worked in concert on the project and they have produced a beauty.
Please write to say thank you to the Mayors, Councillors and staff, as well as volunteers, for their hard work in putting this trail on the ground.
The trail is brand spanking new and has been blessed with an excellent surfacing job. Barring one short section that still needs to be upgraded between Ballarat-Burrumbeet Road and Blind Creek Road, the surface is freeway smooth.
The trail is flat and wide, with great views all the way. It'll be a great new trail to try out this summer.
It would make an ideal warm-up ride on the Friday prior to this year's Great Victorian Bike Ride. The map at right shows how to get to the start of the trail from Lake Wendouree.
The trail is complete all the way to Skipton -- a distance of 52km. There are plenty of places to stop and stay along the way, including an option for the free use of a sleepover shed in Pittong provided by Golden Plains Shire and Imerys Minerals.
The shed, complete with running water, toilets, and importantly for summer, air conditioning, will no doubt be popular. Details about usage are still being worked out.
Through Haddon, Smythesdale, Scardsdale, Linton and other towns before terminating in Skipton, there are plenty of places for a break.
Being in the old gold rush region, there are a whole range of historical monuments to those years along the trail to stop and have a look at.
This is a must visit trail and is a credit to the country communities that developed it.
Trail works progressing well.
22 September 2008. Works on the Ballarat - Skipton trail are continuing at a brisk pace, with the goal of completion by the start of the Great Victorian Bike Ride in Ballarat in late November.
The trail has been completely resurfaced with the new granitic sand material, and is ready to be graded and compacted.
With final work on installing signage, barriers and crossings over the next couple of months still to happen, the next phase of work on the grading of the trail will occur after these installations are completed.
These final works will ensure that motor bikes and other vehicles are prevented from accessing the trail, both to ensure the safety of other users, and to preserve the quality of the newly laid surface.
The ride quality is already much improved over previous years, and members have been reporting a much easier and more enjoyable trip. For those of you joining us on this year's Great Victorian Bike Ride, make sure the trail is on your agenda. Watch this space in case any special events to do with the GVBR get organised.
It's exciting to think that we're so close to riding on the new and improved trail!
Works on the Rail Trail upgrade and resheeting works have commenced in earnest. The construction will be in two projects: trail surfacing and then crossings, barriers and signage.
The surface presently is being graded and compacted ready for resheeting. The entire trail has had vegetation cleared and pruned in anticipation of mechanical works. The contractors will level any depressions in the trail and the entire trail is to be 'crowned' or dome shaped to facilitate and promote drainage.
The granitic sand is the same type and composition as sand used for all tracks and trails in the Ballarat area.
The re sheeting should be complete by the end of June.
State Government commits $250,000 to Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail
Nov 07 The new Minister for Regional Development, Jacinta Allan MP, has just announced $250,000 to resurface and improve the rail trail from Ballarat right through to Skipton. This money follows a recent similar commitment from the Federal Government and $200,000 from the three local Councils.
The project to resurface and fence the trail now has a total of $700,000. Works will begin soon and riders should be able to ride on new sections by the end of summer with the whole trail being resurfaced by mid 2008.
This is Minister Allan's first funding commitment for Rail Trails since she took over the Portfolio from the very supportive John Brumby. Now is a good time to thank the new Minister for her commitment to improving Rail Trails, we look forward to it continuing for years to come. You can send a thank you email to Minister Allan
by clicking here.
Trail to get a new high quality surface within months
Oct 07 After a long wait we will soon be able to ride on a smooth high quality gravel rail trail from Ballarat to Skipton. It will link into Lake Wendouree and be suitable for most types of bikes.
Ballarat, Golden Plains and Corangamite Councils have committed $100,000, $50,000, and $50,000 respectively and the Federal Government has just announced $250,000 for the trail upgrade. These funds will build a new trail surface for most of the trail length and will also provide new fencing to exclude motor vehicles and trail bikes.
Over $600,000 is needed to resurface the trail for its entire 52km. Over $450,000 of this has been committed by Councils and the Federal Governments. All we are waiting on is news that an application for $250,000 funding from the State Government has been successful.
All going well a new improved Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail will be ready to ride in the first half of 2008. Stay in touch with the latest news by clicking on email me updates above.
The photo to the right shows the Member for Corangamite, Mr Stewart McArthur MP and Rail Trail Champion Rudy Novotny from BalBug discussing how the $250,000 will be spent on the trail.
Funding applications have now been submitted
Mar 07 Ballarat, Golden Plains and Corangamite Councils have all committed significant funds to upgrading the Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail. The councils have also now submitted applications to the State and Federal Governments. Although this has taken a bit longer than hoped all councils are to be congratulated for this commitment.
The trail, which is currently unrideable in some sections, requires a full resurfacing and linking to Lake Wendouree. It is now probable that work will begin this year.
Click on email me updates above to stay up to date with progress on the trail.
Late last year many supporters of the trail emailed the Mayor and CEO of Ballarat council to ask them to speed up their application for state and federal funding. It would be nice for them to receive some thanks for acting on these requests. Click here to email them.
$300,000 election promise for the trail
Nov 06 The Minister for State and Regional Development, John Brumby, has made an election promise of $300,000 to upgrade the Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail by improving bicycle
access. We assume this means completing the missing link between Lake Wendouree and the current start point on the Ring Road.
This link is vital for local and visting riders and will go some way to making the trail one of Victoria's best. It is great news but comes in spite of the underwhelming commitment to the trail from the City of Ballarat.
The Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail desparately needs resurfacing if it is to deliver large financial benefits to Ballarat and the towns along the route. It is very dissappointing that the City of Ballarat is yet to submit an application to the $8 million Provincial Pathways Program for the resurfacing.
The Provincial Pathways Program has recently announced $850,000 for a rail trail from Warrnambool to Port Fairy and $500,000 for a rail trail from Rutherglen to Wahgunyah.
BalBug and Bicycle Network are continuing to work with council to get an application submitted for the resurfacing. If you would like to send an email to hurry the Mayor and CEO up, click here.
Ballarat Council fails to commit new funds to Rail Trail
Sep 06 The Ballarat City Council has failed to commit any new funds to the improvement and completion of the Ballarat to Skipton rail trail. In fact they have reduced the annual bike budget from $120,000 to $100,000 for this financial year.
A committed group of local advocates from the Ballarat Bicycle User Group are attempting to make sure that this does not mean the end of a successful application to the State Government's Provincial Pathways Program.
Stay informed by registering for email updates (link above) and we will let you know if your help is needed or the situation improves.
Rail Trail creeps into Ballarat while quality is set to improve
Apr 06 Works are currently underway to complete the 2.5 km high quality trail between the Western Highway and the Ring Road on the western fringe of Ballarat. This is great news as the trail will now link to the ‘Mars Trail’.
However, the trail still does not connect into Lake Wendouree and is therefore inaccessible to most locals and visitors. Also the rest of the rail trail varies from poor to average quality and is in desperate need of resurfacing.
The good news is that Ballarat City Council, Golden Plains Shire. The Ballarat Bicycle User Group and Bicycle Network are working together to develop a funding application for the link into town and resurfacing out to Smythesdale.
Ballarat Council upgrades section of trail
Mar 05 City of Ballarat has upgraded a section of the rail trail between Blind Creek Road and Burrumbeet Rd. Getting the section of trail between Ballarat and Smythesdale upgrade has been a priority of Bicycle Network and Ballarat BUG. So too has getting the trail connected to Lake Wendouree and the train station.
Some of the lobbying has paid off with Council improving 2.5km of rail trail from Blind Creek to the Avenue of Honour. The plan is to see the surface upgraded all the way to Smythesdale, which will provide Ballarat residents and visitors an uninterrupted 20km ride through the countryside.
The Ballarat Skipton Rail Trail needs work to become a quality tourism trail. With the restored Nimmons Bridge in the Golden Plains Shire section completed and with historic Ballarat at one end, the rail trail has real potential. All that is needed is a better connection into town and resurfacing of the rough sections of trail.
Currently the trail starts 3.7km from Victory Arch on the Avenue of Honour. Bicycle Network would like to see a trail constructed along the Avenue of Honour to connect the rail trail to the city and provide a landmark to make the start easier to find.
We met with Council in 2004 to discuss the connection and they have plans for an alternative route but the construction of it was not a priority for the City at that time.
In the local elections in November 2004 we surveyed candidates to see which ones were in favour of the rail trail. The results can be viewed on our Ballarat City Council page.
Official opening of restored Nimons bridge
Mar 04 On 12 March 2004 the Minister for State and Regional Development, the Hon. John Brumby, officially opened the restored Nimons Bridge.
Students from the nearby Woady Yaloak Primary School (pictured) helped the Minister to unveil the plaque on the bridge before riding across on their bikes.
Golden Plains Shire Council has been active in getting the trail constructed and upgraded, which Mayor Kevin Knight reported has taken 18 years.
The council received a grant of $280,000 from the Victorian Government's Living Region Living Suburbs Program to carry out further upgrades to the rail trail and $35,000 from Department of State and Regional Development for the Haddon section of trail.