Thanks to Geoff Andrews for this report of his recent ride with Stephanie for the opening of the new section of the trail:
Stephanie and I were invited to attend the opening of the Black Spur Section of 2.9kms on The Great Southern Rail Trail including 3 new bridges near Koonwarra, South Gippsland on Friday 4th March, 2016.
Despite the hot 34C there were about 160 people present – cyclists, Rail Trail Committee members and Supporters, parliamentarians (both local & state) and many interested people from the local communities with children, dogs and even a mule.
After many short speeches … thanking all those people involved in the planning, organising and construction of the new section, everybody walked or rode to the first bridge where 3 dignitaries cut the ribbon and declared it open. This gave everyone young and old the opportunity to inspect the concrete and metal span built onto the old original wooden trestle supports -a great feat of engineering. The 3 bridges in total distance cross the beautiful valley below for about 1.1 kilometres.
Our terrific 4 day stay in South Gippland allowed us to ride the Great Southern Rail Trail in excellent weather (no strong easterly wind) from Foster to Fish Creek and on to Meeniyan, and back…. 64kms; Foster to Port Welshpool and back … 55kms also to only Toora & back…..22kms – at total of 141km.
This is arguably the best kept & most scenic rail trail in Australia. Many cyclists were noted riding ordinary road bikes as the surface is kept in perfect condition…. that is fine compacted gravel, no ruts, no hoof indentations etc. There are no steep climbs. Anybody who can ride the Barwon River could ride a good proportion of the Great Southern Rail Trail.
It’s potentially a fantastic club ride for 3-4 days away in South Gippsland.
Editor’s note: I agree with Geoff about the excellent riding surface on the Great Southern. Some years ago, after riding Meeniyan-Foster, we were caught in very heavy rain on the return journey. The area was still showing evidence of flooding from rain the previous week, but the white compacted granite surface of the trail stayed firm and comfortably rideable for the entire return journey (despite the considerable amount of the trail surface that adhered to our bikes, requiring a complete clean and lube on our return). The added bonus was the appearance of several echidnas on the side of the trail – enjoying an easy banquet, courtesy of the rain.