Megan Cycles the Great Victorian Rail Trail

Cycling near Feathertop Wines, Bright | Josie Withers
Cycling near Feathertop Wines, Bright | Josie Withers

Megan Cycles the Great Victorian Rail Trail

We love receiving in-depth reviews of a cycling adventure! It's always so great to live vicariously through another person's exciting cycling trip. As you can imagine, we were thrilled to get this top account of Megan and her mate cycling the Great Victorian Rail Trail on a self-guided cycling tour. Over to you, Megan.
Victoria's High Country is pretty to cycle in autumn |  <i>Ride High Country</i>
My friend and I cycled the Great Victorian Rail Trail in September 2023.

It was SO much fun!! Even with sleet and magpies swooping (for any fellow Queenslanders - it's still cold at that time of the year in Victoria).  We had the trail basically to ourselves and on the one really bad day of weather (our 60km day too, the joys) the only people we saw were those at the servo and bakeries that kept us warm along the way. 
Bonnie Doon and riding across Lake Eildon on Day 1 was incredible.  We wished we'd left earlier as there was a great walk recommended to us halfway between Mansfield and Bonnie Doon, but we only got to the base and had to turn around to make sure we got in before dark.  The Bonnie Doon Hotel had excellent food and atmosphere, and let us dry our clothes in front of their fireplace.  
Cyclists on the Bonnie Doon Bridge over Lake Eildon |  <i>Rail Trails Australia</i>
The 60km day itself - let me tell you as someone with very basic fitness and not a lot of training gone into this - was actually fine.  Don't get in your head about it.  It's a steady climb and you will feel it in your thighs, but not in the I-can't-go-on way you might imagine.  Plus, the downhill run was SO worth it!! As was Yarck's bakery - Buck's Bakehouse was full of delicious delights.  Wish they could supply goods the whole way - I would've paid extra for this.  
Great Victorian Rail Trail |  <i>Kate Baker</i>
Alexandria has a laundromat so we were able to give our clothes a wash. Then back out the way you came in, and you'll start to think that downhill run yesterday was SO NOT worth it, but you will overcome that too.
You will.  And then suddenly you'll be in Yea for your last night with another wonderful pub and plenty of shops to look at.  The secondhand bookshop was one of the best I've seen and run by a fabulous woman.
Riding past Yea Station on the Great Victorian Rail Trail |  <i>Ride High Country</i>

Our final morning, we had plans to dilly dally and try breakfast at another place in Yea but had to meet the bike handlers in Tallarook at the finish line by 12.30pm.  So, no more dillying or dallying and away we rode.  There is a marker that says Trawool is 5km on and if you've been keeping track of the 1km markers along the way (brilliant, btw), then you know it should only be 1km.  This messed with our minds and we stopped for a snack and whine and then got on our bikes (no e-bike, no padded bike shorts here...just a few regrets on that front) and Trawool Estate appeared before our eyes in 1km...bloody signs!  
The Great Victorian Rail Trail passes through the Trawool Valley where it runs parallel with the Goulburn River |  <i>Rail Trails Australia</i>
They were closed but we must have looked wrecked so they offered to make us a drink.  Espresso martinis in hand, we suddenly thought we can do this and with the swoop of one more magpie, we were on our way - Tallarook, here we come!!! We rolled into town just after 12.30pm (and after one impressive stack on my part), and our trip was suddenly over and we were relieved of our bikes and reunited with our luggage.  We moseyed on over to the pub to finish our trip with a celebratory beer and well-deserved lunch.  
Start your ride in the historical town of Tallarook |  <i>Robert Blackburn</i>
Then, the train back to Melbourne.  It was so much fun, and I intended this to be short yet how could I not include some of our best memories?! Australian Cycle Tours made it so easy and not one partner on the trip - from the bike shop in Mansfield to our luggage transport service crew - were anything but warm and kind.  If you've been on the fence about this trip, I say book it!
Cyclists on the Great Victorian Rail Trail |  <i>Bruce Baker</i>
Final advice from Megan: Get yourself some padded shorts, pack your raincoat, and consider an e-bike if you want to cruise and aren't at the level of fitness of a greyhound!

Have you cycled a rail trail in Australia? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.



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