With a shoulder injury which has plagued me for the past four and a bit months. I am limited to riding flat roads at the moment. My passion is climbing and I find flat roads quite boring, but see this as a golden opportunity to do some of those rides that have been sitting on my to do list for years.
I decided on riding part of the Great Victorian Rail trail. This is Australia’s longest continuous rail trail, spanning a total of 134 kilometres from Tallarook to Mansfield, with a section linking Cathkin and Alexandra. This trail boasts Victoria’s longest rail trail tunnel at Cheviot, which I just had to do.
Brad Lyell joined me for the ride and I picked up Brad on the way up & headed up to Yea. There was 10 km of climbing right from the onset, and the loose gravel made moving tougher than we expected.
One of the highlights of the trail is the historic Cheviot Tunnel (pictured above). The tunnel was built in 1899 to cut through McLoughlin’s Gap. The tunnel is over 200 metres long, and the tunnel was built from handmade bricks, and an estimated 675,000 bricks were sourced locally.
When we approaching the tunnel I was thinking “this doesn’t look that long”. Looks are deceiving as the tunnel was huge. Once you were in the tunnel it was pitch black. All you could see in front was a small pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel that seemed to take forever to reach. It was quite an eerie sensation riding through, but truly remarkable.
We loved it, but if you’re claustrophobic I would suggest you give this one a miss.
It was a nice gentle downhill descent to the small town of Molesworth. Apparently the section of line from Molesworth to Cathkin was quite challenging for the railway to build. The train had to cross the Goulburn River flood plain. Requiring a number of bridges.
All of the original timber bridges were destroyed and had to be replaced with modern steel and concrete bridges which now make for good riding.
There was a fair bit of climbing as we made our way up to Bonnie Doon. Stopping in at Yarck on the way up. Hate to admit it, but wanted to get a photo to make fun of the name but wasn’t necessary. They make fun of their own name.
There wasn’t much water in the lake at Bonnie Doon, but it’s always beautiful. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the classic film “The Castle”, which centered around the Kerrigan’s. A simple family who’s simple joy was to stay up in their dream holiday house up in Bonnie Doon. Everyone will remember Darryl Kerrigan’s immortal line “tell him he’s dreaming”.
The ride across the big bridge across Bonnie Doon is always an amazing experience, and we stopped off at the general store for some lunch.
Darryl Kerrigan: How’s the serenity? So much serenity
The return trip was a bit of an ordeal. On the ride up it was quite still, but the wind decided to pick up on the way back. We were unlucky to cop really strong cross winds which we battled tooth and nail. To make matters worse we were running late and nothing gets you faster than the fear of the wife. Leave passes are a precious commodity that you never take for granted.
I was hurting. My shoulder was screaming in pain. I had saddle soreness (wouldn’t recommend to take 4 months off the bike) and I went into TT mode and shut out everything and pushed as hard as I could all the way back to the car.
Brad had a great ride. “Cheviot tunnel was the best part of the trail. I enjoyed riding to Bonnie Doon and the bridge was awesome but the ride back was a hard slog into a strong head wind most of the way so not so enjoyable.”
The Great Victorian Rail Trail
The Great Victorian Rail Trail offers an amazing adventure. The surface is well-compacted gravel, gradients that don’t go over 4% incredible scenery; villages along the way which offer their own unique experiences, such as historic landmarks, museums, food and wine, shopping and markets. Along the trail are a range of places to stay and eat.
The Great Victorian Rail Trail is great to explore on foot, bike or horse. For further information on the Great Victorian Rail Trail click here.
If you haven’t ridden this great trail before I’ll pass on this advice from the Castle.
“Bad luck….ya dickhead!”
Distance ridden: 130 km
Overall time: 7 hours 30 minutes
Elevation gained: 800 metres
Click here for link to my Strava Activity.