Walk or ride this fantastic rail trail to experience the delights of country Victoria. Enjoy the region's vast landscapes, art, history and nature.
From Heyfield to Maffra, you pass a diverse range of agricultural land, across a number of rivers and creeks and excellent views of the Great Dividing Range and Strzelecki Ranges. The trail surface is fairly smooth gravel, although it can be soft when wet. If cycling, it’s most suited for hybrid and mountain bikes.
Starting at Heyfield, the trail begins at the Wetlands Centre on the western edge of town. Heyfield sits at the southern extremity of the Snowy Mountains range and is home to the largest timber mill in the Southern Hemisphere, which you’ll see as you ride into town from the west. Heyfield is a great place to stop for a pub meal, a wander around the historic township and provides excellent accommodation options.
Heading east, the dairy-farming township of Tinamba is a further 10km along the trail and crosses over a beautiful wetland, through remnant forest and fertile agricultural land. The historic Tinamba Hotel gets rave reviews about the food, and is a beautiful place to visit for its intact colonial architecture. The access point in Tinamba is on the Maffra-Rosedale Rd.
From Tinamba, the next 8km includes some of the original rail infrastructure before reaching Maffra. Described as one of the prettiest towns in Victoria, Maffra boasts numerous historic buildings and beautiful gardens. Vintage car enthusiasts can check out the Gippsland Vehicle Collection Motor Museum. With growing salad and vegetable farming industries in the surrounding area, it is considered a great town for working travellers. A visit to the Sugar Beet Museum and the restored Maffra Court House are just some of the other options for discovering this area’s history. The town provides several great eating options at cafes and restaurants. The Maffra access point is in the Macalister River Park, beside the Macalister River.
You can access this trail by train from Melbourne to either Stratford or Traralgon. There are daily V-Line rail services from Melbourne to Bairnsdale. A more regular service between Traralgon and Melbourne is also available. The line from Traralgon to Stratford via Maffra was built in 1883, and served as an alternative route to East Gippsland. It was very busy until the 1950's carrying sugar beet from Maffra and timber from Heyfield. In its later years, the line primarily serviced Maffra’s dairy industry. The line closed in stages, the first stage being Traralgon to Cowwarr in 1986 and then Cowwarr to Maffra in 1994. The rails were pulled up shortly after.
The Park Tracks project is an initiative of the Latrobe City Council, which acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Gunaikurnai nation. Through their cultural traditions, the Gunaikurnai identifies this area as part of their Traditional Country.
Rail trail part 1: http://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/3088
Rail trail part 3: http://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/3090
A delightful aspect to this ride is the experience of being in the middle of a busy farming community, including the cattle industry with its curious cows.
Along the way, you have exceptional views of what is Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world.
Sometimes it’s worth stopping for a rest, and there are numerous seats on the Trail to do just that.
The Tinamba Hotel is a famous example of colonial architecture. Coupled with great food, this is a place not to be missed (at 4 - 6 Tinamba-Seaton Road).
The Rail Trail introduces you to so many fascinating elements, including stopping along the way to chat to some happy horse riders.
A part of the fascinating fabric of the town today, this historic port was a key piece of economic infrastructure in the early days of European settlement.
Travelling through the parklands of Maffra is truly delightful, with well-established tree arches that take your breath away.
The historic courthouse in Maffra is a good place to visit not only for its architectural significance but because it doubles as an information centre.