Happy New Year! It’s an early ride to kick things off – simply because I won’t be in Melbs to post an end of month ride. (Don’t let that stop you doing one for yourself though, please!)
NOTE: Whether this ride proceeds very much depends on a decent weather day… if the forecast is for high winds, storms or temps over 30C then it will be cancelled. Check back here the night before if you’re uncertain.
Meeting at Rushall Station carpark (Fitzroy North) we’ll ride the St Georges Bike [Share] Path north to Reservoir. After enjoying a coffee we’ll return to Rushall station – the exact return route will decided by group consensus on the day, however my suggestion at this time is Darebin Creek Trail. It’s pleasantly shaded and should not be difficult to link up to. Should the weather be really good and everyone’s up for a longer ride, we could do a loop up to the Western Ring Road Trail and come back down via Merri Creek Trail…
Less confident riders are most welcome to join the ride until the coffee stop. If anyone has a serious mechanical or wishes to return by Public Transport, the St Georges Bike [Share] Path runs between the north-south tram lines, and the Mernda train line (that we’ll follow to Reservoir) is also very close by.
The Window Cnr Cafe – quieter street; may have some GF and vegan snack options; on the way to Darebin Creek Trail, cafe faces North
Clayton & Me – very close to Reservoir Train Station, other shops nearby, more chance to spread out(?), cafe faces South
There aren’t many cafe’s around Reservoir that open on a Sunday, so our choices for a coffee stop are rather limited – my apologies in advance.
Meeting point: Rushall Station carpark, Fitzroy North
Meeting Time: 10am
Ride to cafe: 8km, gentle uphill gradient
ETA to cafe: 45min
Estimated pace to cafe: 10-15kph
Return ride: to be decided by consensus on the day, but could be 15-20km
Estimated return pace: ~20kph
What To Bring
Your Brompton in good working condition
Water / hydration
Clothes appropriate for the weather conditions
Spare tube (particularly if you’re planning to do the longer return ride)
If you have any feedback about how rides can be improved, please let me know. Questions, comments and suggestions can be emailed to me (Dayna) at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below. (Please do not include personal details or anything you do not wish to be made public in comments – send an email instead.)
As many Brompton owners know first-hand, our folding bikes might be #MadeForCities but they’re pretty awesome at so much more. My partner Stephen and I took advantage of a long weekend in September to add the East Gippsland Rail Trail (“EGRT”) to the list of Rail Trails we have enjoyed riding on our Bromptons.
Our principal resources for planning our multiday ride were:
The trail has received some major work and improvements in the last year. News updates on the EGRT’s website and photos shared to their Instagram account show how fortunate our timing was. We may have chosen a different trail a year ago – or had a very different (more difficult) experience. As it was, the main decisions were principally how to get there (and back) and how long to spend in the saddle each day.
Circumstances allowed us up to 5 days off (a combination of rosters, public holidays and annual leave).
Getting to the start in Bairnsdale would take half a day by V-Line train ride from Melbourne, arriving in Bairnsdale late morning. We planned to ride ~30km to Bruthen for our first night’s accomplishments. And we knew we’d need to allow for a full day returning from Orbost back to Melbourne by V-Line coach and train.
The big decision was whether to ride straight from Bruthen to Orbost (~65km) in the one big day, or to have two easy days of about 30km each?
We decided on the easy option and break up the ride into three days of roughly equal distances (Bairnsdale to Bruthen, Bruthen to Nowa Nowa, and Nowa Nowa to Orbost) for the following reasons:
We weren’t in a rush; this was to be a relaxing getaway.
You can see and appreciate more when you slow down and look around.
More stops mean spending more money in more communities. More money spent in more rural communities means they’re going to welcome and support more bicycle tourists. (We’re not talking large sums, but something is better than nothing, particularly after zero tourists during Covid lockdowns.)
Contingencies, be they mechanical, biological or other forces outside our control.
There’s not much choice when it comes to accomodation in these rural towns. Our strong advice is to call ahead to ensure accomodation and other services will be open, and if it’s peak time (around school and public holidays) don’t wing it, booked ahead whatever mode of accommodation you’re hoping to get.
What To Pack
Everyone’s different so you have to be your own judge here. We often struggle with “not too much” but we are getting better with practice. Limiting ourselves to only what we can carry in our front bag (max 10kg!) and a little bit extra in our saddle bags (utilising the pouch/bag for the previous version of the Brompton bike cover) helps there.
Note: We each also own a Brompton with a rear rack. For our own individual reasons we elected to take our Black Editions (L-types), as we have also chosen to do for previous Rail Trail adventures.
Extra socks & underwear for each day & extra t-shirts
Toiletries & medication(s)
Toiletries & medication(s)
Cape/Poncho for wet weather
Cape/Poncho for wet weather
First aid kit
Rail Trails Australia book
Bike repair kit (tri tool 4/5/6, 10mm spanner, spoke key, puncture repair kit,clean rag, small bottle of lube, tiny spray bottle of bike wash)
Air compressor (small)
Small reading book
Suncream, aeroguard & hand sanitiser
Snacks & sunglasses
Phone and chargers
TwoFish, velcro strap, frame mounted
(Rear pouch of T-Bag)
Spare tubes (x3)
2nd water bottle
Rain cover for front bag
Dayna & Stephen’s Packing List
The forecast was good for the first two days of riding, with rain predicted for the afternoon of the third day arriving at Orbost, and the following day when we would leave Orbost. I was also concerned about how cold the nights might get – Spring can have quite low minimum temps and if the wind picked up we could quickly find ourselves feeling very cold and miserable out in the middle of nowhere.
Riding the East Gippsland Rail Trail
You can watch a 20min YouTube clip of our EGRT experience here, but for more details please also keep reading below.
Bromptons are easy to take on a train, and it’s a more relaxing way to travel than driving. Stephen organised the V Line tickets for the train to and from Bairnsdale as well as the V Line coach ride from Orbost back to Bairnsdale (you need to pre-book – you can’t use a MYKI for these services).
Our V Line train departed Southern Cross Station (Melbourne) at 7:15am and arrived in Bairnsdale (a few minutes late) at 11:20am. Plenty of time to nap and enjoy the scenery. There’s a toilet on board, but take your own snacks and hydration.
The route to the EGRT is very well signposted, starting right at Bairnsdale Station. From the official start of the EGRT through to just past Nicholson, the track is either firm gravel or bitumen, small bridges have recently been installed and are smooth to ride across, and the gradient is very flat. If you’re looking for a short &/or family friendly ride on the trail for a couple of hours, this section is a good pick.
Lunch Stop Day 1 – Nicholson
With your ride barely begun (about 1hr in) why would you stop so soon? Because the Nicholson General Store & Post Office (“Nicho Store & Cafe”) has many delicious treats made in house or produced locally that are well worth stopping for! Leave room in your stomach and luggage! You also get to appreciate the view of the railway bridge from river level.
After Nicholson there’s a short section of bitumen, then the trail changes to compact gravel which is still easy to ride on. You do get a chance to work off lunch as the trail winds its way gently through the hills and around lush green paddocks of cows and sheep.
Night 1 Accommodation – Bruthen Inn Hotel
Bruthen is right alongside the Rail Trail and makes a great overnight stop. There’s pretty much one choice in town for accommodation – the Bruthen Inn Hotel. Good drink selection, good food, decent bed, shared bathroom facilities (men and women separate). Breakfast is included or you can grab a bite from one of a few locations in town. Situated at a cross roads (Omeo and Hotham in one direction, Buchan/Mallacoota/Eden in the other) it’s a busy and noisy place during day, but quiet at night.
Day 2 – Bruthen to Nowa Nowa
Your legs get a couple of kilometres to warm up before the climbing starts. The gradient is easy but the slope is long. The morning air was cool and comfortable as we rode up through cuttings in the hillsides, beautifully forested on either side. Unfortunately the rail trail doesn’t always stick to the original rail line and there are a few deviations which can be a little steeper than the average gradient, making us particularly glad we had the gear range of our 6 speeds.
Where the EGRT deviates from the original rail route – either because a trestle bridge is not safe to traverse, or the cutting is detoured – a gradient change is often accompanied a sharp curve in the trail, sometimes also accompanied by a surface change (eg. gravel to cement). We learned these changed were cues to proceed with caution as there were often softer gravel patches around the corners and some slopes were steep enough to warrant walking up/down.
The highlight of the day was the Stony Creek Trestle Bridge; the iconic feature associated with the EGRT… 22km from Bruthen and only 8km from Nowa Nowa. We were not disappointed. Stony Creek Trestle Bridge is just as impressive in real life as it looks in photos.
It’s a steep ride/walk down and a steep walk up the other side. Some people on regular bikes warned us that “it gets worse from here” but we really didn’t notice much change. There’s a shortish hill to ride up (couple of km), then it’s downhill to Nowa Nowa.
Night 2 Accommodation – Nowa Nowa Caravan Park
We had pretty low expectations for Nowa Nowa… but ended up being very pleasantly surprised. There are two caravan parks and one general store. The Motel (closed) has recently been sold – may it soon see better days.
Our ride from Bruthen took under 3hrs, so we had plenty of time to look around. There’s a boat ramp and pontoon at Lake Tyres. We sat at a picnic table and watched people fish (then watched then fish jump out of the water once the people gave up trying to catch the fish), watched the pelicans, the smaller birdlife, and just enjoyed relaxing by the water. There was a slight breeze so we weren’t bothered mosquitoes. There are other short-medium walks and bike trails in the area to do if you have the time and inclination.
Make sure you take insect repellent or wear long clothing. For kilometres around there are big mosquitoes. They don’t seem to pursue you, but they hang in the air in large groups. The lake and river nearby means they seem to be present all year around.
We stayed at the Nowa Nowa Caravan Park in a retro caravan. Quirky but very comfortable with a variety of iron sculptures around the site, and plump chooks who roam the lush grass and gardens of an afternoon. Again there’s shared bathroom facilities (Mens/Womens) as well as a full kitchen (outdoor but covered) for guests to use.
The General Store is small, but stocks fresh and frozen meals from a restaurant in Metung. Delicious! (Or you could get something ordinary like frozen pizza.)
Day 3 – Nowa Nowa to Orbost
Yesterday’s gravel continued for about of third of today’s ride before changing to a hard, stony vehicle track for most of the remainder. In total we rode 40km from Nowa Nowa to Orbost.
Still plenty of forest, with a plethora of wild flowers to admire as you cycle up and down the hills (or use as a distraction from the constant spinning). This section was undoubtedly the best for photographing wildflowers, but definitely the most tiring day – smaller hills but more of them.
Not far out from Nowa Nowa (about 13km) we came to the Wairewa Trestle Bridge. Another very impressive structure that is unlikely to be repaired anytime soon as we just don’t let trees grow that big anymore before we cut them down.
There’s some farmland around here which looks lush, green and very idyllic as you roll by… right up until a magpie gives you the hurry-up. To be fair, that’s only likely to happen in spring – and while he sounded close, he didn’t actually make contact. Mr Magpie was still very clear in communicating his message though!
Not too far along we found an interesting place to take a quick break.
CAUTION – don’t venture off the trail and be mindful in warmer months that there are likely to be snakes about! I spotted a black snake just to the side of the trail as we rode past and it was not happy we’d woken it up trespassing through it’s territory.
Fun ride down from Newmerella to the end of the trai, just outside of Orbost. Not too challenging to find your way in to town.
Night 3 Accommodation – Orbost Club Hotel
Orbost is large enough to have a good choice of accommodation options, but look closer and there isn’t as much as may first appear, and really not too many options in town. Again, call ahead to ensure you can get accommodation.
We stayed in the Orbost Club Hotel which has definitely seen better days. On the up side, the beds and towels were clean, bathrooms worked, and we had a roof over our heads for the night that didn’t leak. I know I’m not talking it up a lot; the main business here is the pub, and the somewhat basic accommodation here definitely seems aimed at keeping people from driving drunk – which I completely support.
Except for the FoodWorks (grocery store) the town was pretty much closed by the time we arrived – about 2:30pm on the Friday afternoon. We put this down to it being a ‘religious’ holiday for most people (AFL Grand Final Day) because even Sailor’s Grave Brewing was also closed.
Dinner was at Leon Palace, a BYO Chinese-Australian restaurant. Country-sized portions again; if you’re not sure ask the helpful staff. No extra charge if you want to BYO alcohol – apparently the locals objected to a 50c corkage fee. No need to make a reservation; most locals appear to prefer take away over dine-in, so while there was a steady stream of business, we were the only ones seated in the restaurant.
Day 4 – Orbost to Melbourne
The V Line Coach service was due to leave Orbost at 11:05am so we had plenty of time to spend to find breakfast (Rosie’s Hot Bake was open first and had a steady stream of customers) and look around a town that seemed much more awake compared to the prior afternoon.
Don’t miss checking out the Information Centre – the gardens are particularly lovely – and right next door is an art gallery. It wasn’t very clear whether some, all, or none of the artwork was for sale – and theyonly take cash – but it made a lovely diversion for half an hour or so.
The coach stop is handily right across from the public toilets (recently upgraded) and was more-or-less on time. We always cover our bikes when stowing them under a V Line coach. You’re not required to have your bike covered, but we prefer the extra layer of anonymity and protection against scuffing. Then it was just under 1.5hrs back to Bairnsdale via Lakes Entrance.
You must pre-book your seat on the V Line coach – it’s not a hail and ride service. The one we caught was also an express service – there are other V Line bus/coaches that stop at more stops. The return V Line train from Bairnsdale to Melbourne stopped at more towns than the service out did (maybe because it was a weekend instead of a weekday?) but the journey time was the same.
You may also like to read more about the “Under The Surface” art installations along the trail:
We really enjoyed our mini adventure. I hope you are able to get out and enjoy some of the great rail trails around the state (or interstate) on your Brompton(s) too!
The date was chosen by popular vote by our FaceBook members (sorry if you’re not on that platform, but it’s just easier and cleaner to have it all in the one place). It was neck and neck between two dates, each taking turns at being in the lead. Which date would get the most votes? When would we ride?? Who would be there and who would not be able to make it??? Oh – the suspense!
Meet At: Federation Square
Meeting Time: 5pm (ish)
Departure from Fed Sq: 5:30pm (ish)
Ride duration: ~1hr
Ride length: 12km
Why Federation Square? Christmas [group] photos. That’s it.
Why A Bar Made of Cardboard? The couple of times Stephen and I have been there it’s been pretty quiet. There is plenty of space for a moderate sized party with bikes, they have a great selection of beer (Bridge Road Brewers is located in Beechworth), a good 0% alcohol pale ale (“Free Time”), a really nice Ginger Beer, wine and other non-alcoholic drinks. They sell chips and (really good) olives but for people looking for something a bit more substantial we can have food delivered or BYO food (there’s a Coles about 50m away, and local take-away places not much further). And the cardboard furnishings are really cool.
The No 96 tram runs along Nicholson Street. If you’re thinking to park close to the pop-up brewery, you can use this to get to Fed Square (disembark at Bourke St and Swanston St) or to get back into the city at the end of the evening.
What To Bring
Clothes appropriate for the weather – and if you would like to dress up, that’s awesome!
Before you join this (or the next) ride
One of the comments from our last ride was that I call out a lot of instructions and warnings, but very little is passed back through the group. When I’ve been the tail rider I have observed this, but as our rides are predominantly “social” rides, I haven’t done anything about it to date.
If you have any feedback about how rides can be improved, please let me know. Questions, comments and suggestions can be emailed to email@example.com or comment below. NOTE: comments to posts are public – please do not include personal details – email me instead.
Looking forward to seeing you soon. If you can’t make it, we wish you a wonderful Christmas (or Hanukkah) and a fantastic 2023!