About the Rail Trail

About the East Gippsland Rail Trail

The East Gippsland Rail Trail is located in eastern Victoria, between the coast and low foothills of the Great Dividing Range and is nearly 100 km long.

Thanks to efforts of dedicated volunteers it was completed in 2006, converting the disused rail line formerly connecting Bairnsdale to Orbost to a cycling, walking and horseriding trail. The trail is managed by an entirely volunteer based incorporated Committee of Management.

Post fire recovery grants of more than $3 million have been awarded to the Committee of Management for upgrades and improvements to the trail. Works have commenced on resurfacing, repairing bridges and fixing drainage issues.

The Social Crew's 2022 project 'Under the Surface - GunaiKurnai Country' has brought 4 brilliant art installations to 4 locations along the rail trail.

The trail traverses a mix of farmland and forest, with just three small towns along its length – Nicholson, Bruthen and Nowa Nowa.

The surface of the trail is mostly a hardpacked crushed gravel – while generally an excellent riding surface for suitable bikes (hybrids suited to gravel, mountain bikes) it is susceptible to change due to weather conditions.

The towns of Bairnsdale and Orbost at either end –– as well as the towns along the way – all sit on rivers that have nearly completed their journey to the sea, and none are higher than 50 metres above sea level. The highest altitude reached on the trail is 130 metres above sea level.

The trail undulates gently with train– and therefore cycle friendly gradients on the hills. There are some short steep sections of up to 100 m in length where the trail diverts around old bridges – generally no more than 2 between each town.

Our tour website snowyrivercycling.com.au has a summary of services and facilities along the rail trail.

Bairnsdale to Bruthen 30 km

Discover gentle farming land, rail bridges and tunnels in 'Twin River' country.
After the first 10 km of sealed surface, the trail crosses the wide Nicholson River on the original rail bridge before cutting across open country which supports several vineyards and specialty farms. The tunnels of Bumberrah mark the descent into the wide green Tambo River valley, whose farming history since European settlement is evident is some beautiful agricultural architecture.

Bruthen has a village atmosphere with a main street defined by generous park and shady trees down it's middle. A special beer at the Bullant Brewery, fresh bakery produce or a coffee in one of the cafes could all entice you off the trail here.

Bruthen to Nowa Nowa 27 km

A journey through the forest brings you the meeting point of salt water and fresh, traditional and new.
The Trail leaves Bruthen crossing the Tambo River on the original rail bridge, traversing lush green paddocks before sliding up into Colquhoun State Forest. From here the trail gently but steadily climbs to the highest point on the trail through blue gum, stringy barks, casurinas and silvertop. The effort is rewarded as the trail then runs back downhill into Nowa Nowa.

The town's name means 'mingling waters' and is adopted by the local cafe, and caravan park. Freshwater Boggy Creek cuts a dramatic little gorge through the middle of town, before joining the salty waters of Lake Tyers. With a working timber mill, nude sculpture walk, quirky art installations and 'antique' treasures Nowa Nowa is full of the unexpected. Not least a mountain bike park.

Nowa Nowa to Orbost 40 km

Serene forest encloses you on the final ride to the expanse of the fertile Snowy River floodplain.

Although never far from the highway, the Trail offers an experience of East Gippsland's forests that can't be had from a car. The strong scent of eucalypt is challenged in spring as many plants come into flower and after a season with good rains the birdlife is prolific and noisy. Often shaded by huge trees, one section of the trail is a demonstration of regeneration after fire after an intense bushfire in February 2011.

The Rail Trail is joined to the township of Orbost by a link trail, which parallels the long trestle bridge across the flood prone farmland before crossing the Snowy River and finishing at the pretty Forest Park.