Friday, December 28, 2007

Old Beechy Rail Trail

A rail trail follows a former railway, so the track is always reasonably flat or has slight inclines or declines. And there's the trap for newcomers, ride the slight decline for 28km - barely even noticing the decline, then turn around and ride back - uphill all the way.

Old Beechy Rail Trail, the Otways, Victoria

Remants of an old timber bridge

I spent two days whilst travelling along the Great Ocean Road in the cool shady forest. It was high 30's out there in the sun, but very cool riding in the forest. On the first day, I left my car in Colac and rode from the start of the rail trail, at the railway station, to Gelibrand, which is approximately half way along the track. It is uphill riding to Barongarook, which to be honest was quite tough. All of this section is along roads and not along the original railway alignment (the former railway did start in Colac, and the rail trail follows roads adjacent to the former railway). It was a very hot day to be out in the sun riding uphill on dirt roads, but after lots of rests and puffs of my ventolin, I made it to the start of the former railway just beyond Barongarook. Here the riding became very easy, being a steady decline to Gelibrand, with just a few off-the-former-railway-alignment sections. If I rode this trail again, I would start beyond Barongarook, the railway alignment starts at the 103 mile railway marker on Maggios Road. Part of the rail trail, just before Barongarook is on a bitumen road for several kilometres, could be a bit scary for the kiddies.

103 mile marker

Gelibrand was a welcome sight, enjoyed a nice lunch on the verandah of the general store. The ride home was quite a bit more difficult, mainly because it is uphill, and I didn't realise just how easy I had it riding downhill from Barongarook to Gelibrand. It's just that the incline is unrelenting, but you can see in the stats below that although it took me the same time to ride, I didn't need to rest for as long. I put that down to the uphill section being in the shady forest rather than the open sun, and being high on ventolin. The ridge from Barongarook downhill to Colac was easy.

The following day, having learnt something from the previous day, I left my car in Gelibrand. Gelibrand lies at the bottom of the valley, with the Colac at one end of the rail trail, and Beech Forest at the other end, both being at the tops of the ranges either side of Gelibrand.

Old steam locomotive boiler at Dinmont

So I rode uphill towards to Beech Forest. I enjoyed this day much more than the first day, it was easier, and I was mentally prepared for it this time. The forest seemed much nicer, lots more bends, and much more riding along the former railway alignment rather than dirt roads. I stopped at Dinmont though, rather than the end of the rail trail at Beech Forest. From Dinmont to Beech Forest is entirely on dirt roads, so I didn't really see the point. No shops at Dinmont either, just a pub. I think future plans for the trail include the rail trail following the former railway from Dinmont to Beech Forest, and perhaps an extension to Lavers Hill and Crowes where the former railway terminated.

The ride back from Dinmont to Gelibrand was a lot quicker than the ride there. I did however fall for one trap... riding uphill from Gelibrand I came across a fallen tree which blocked the path. Trees in forests can be a bit difficult to move, I looked at trying to move it, but a chainsaw would really be needed. So anyway, you'd think I would remember it was there when I was riding back along that way later - because this time I would be riding much faster, being a long downhill run. I've got to say, in the dappled light of a forest, it is very difficult to see a single fallen log across the path when you are riding fast. I had to jump off my fast moving bike to save myself, and somehow I managed to get off and not take a tumble, although my bike got some damage from hitting the log and ground at such speed. It all happened slow enough though, as accidents do, for me to recall the log and realise how stupid I was. So I tried to mark the log a bit, to draw attention to it, but really, is there anyone else out there as stupid as me?

Old steam locomotive boiler near Triplet Falls

When I finished the ride, I enjoyed lunch again at the Gelibrand general store, and spent the afternoon wandering around some local sights - via car this time - like the town of Beech Forest and Triplet Falls. At Triplet Falls there was an old steam locomotive boiler hidden in the forest, amazing to think that all this area was completely cleared by the over-zealous settlers thanks to the railway, and that now you would have no idea that the land had been completely cleared at the start of last century.

I visited the Otway Fly, meh, it wasn't so great. $20 to get in, so not worth it. Although on the way out a couple of backpackers approached me for some tips as to how to avoid the entrance fee, ie in which direction to head to climb the fence. So I guess if they were successful it wasn't quite so expensive on a per-person basis.

Visit official Old Beechy Rail Trail webpage and download map and brochure.

View photos as full screen slideshow


27 December
  • Distance: 26.4km
  • Moving duration: 1h 43m
  • Stationary duration: 1h 14m
  • Moving average: 15.2km/h
  • Overall average: 8.9km/h
  • Max speed: 49km/h

  • Distance: 26.4km
  • Moving duration: 1h 45m
  • Stationary duration: 39m
  • Moving average: 15.1km/h
  • Overall average: 10.9km/h
  • Max speed: 56.2km/h

28 December
  • Distance: 14.1km
  • Moving duration: 1h 13m
  • Stationary duration: 45m
  • Moving average: 11.4km/h
  • Overall average: 7.1km/h
  • Max speed: 35.4km/h

  • Distance: 15.2km
  • Moving duration: 44h 59m
  • Stationary duration: 6m
  • Moving average: 20.3km/h
  • Overall average: 17.7km/h
  • Max speed: 36.3km/h

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