Navarre to Wannon Creek - Beaufort to Warrnambool - CycleBlaze

March 8, 2019

Navarre to Wannon Creek

Grampians Rail trail

A straight forward cycle from Navarre on on overcast day with a light spit of rain just before leaving, having slept in the footy sheds, as the door was open and it allowed a quieter sleep than being in the open with the nearby St Arnaud-Ararat road busy with occasional noses semis. In contrast the road to Stawell was quiet, with a 7 percent climb on the edge of town for half a kilometre, the only minor challenge.

Having been to Stawell numerous times, it was just a stop in the supermarket and a check of wifi before heading out of town. 

Early last century a railway line was built from Stawell to Mt Dryden near Halls Gap to transport stone mining products, the railway closed in 1949 and is slowly been turned into a rail trail which by signs along the trail has involved Stawell school students helping out. Just after turning onto Halls Gap road there is a track to the north of the road with no clear markings that winds its way to where the rail right of way is accessible. The trail is dirt but not sandy so easily to cycle on and is a relaxing flat ride through a variety of trees from eucalyptus to sheoaks and pines. In some places you have to go around remains of burnt rail bridges which have all been bypassed with new bridges. 

No real sign that this is the start of a rail trail
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Looking back towards Stawell, this section is not open for cyclists
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Local school students have helped create the trail
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One of many rail bridges destroyed by bushfires, bypassed by new bridges
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A small section of rail trail is on road
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Another former rail bridge
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There was a couple of paper signs saying rail trail was closed because sheep had got out but wasn’t sure how old the signs were, so ignored them and this did mean in 2 places I had to open and close wire gates by never saw any sheep and any other people. The trail ends suddenly but you can see the railway kept going. So rejoined a quiet bitumen road that took me all the way into Halls Gap, using the cycle path for the final 3 kilometres into town.

Found sheep poo but didn’t see sheep as the rail trail goes through a paddock
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Bridge was fine assume it had to do with keeping sheep in
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Been to Halls Gap numerous times, so after filling up with water at the water filling station, set off south as park rangers told me there would probably not be water at my intend camp site of Wannon Creek but there was water from rain water tank at the previous camp site of Jimmy Creek. However Wannon Creek is a free camp site while Jimmy requires booking which on the start of the long weekend in Victoria I expected to be full. The ride to Wannon Creek was okay, using cycle path to Lake Bellfield and then the road which was quiet from then on but with it now being cold and overcast was more a ride about getting to camp. Light rain began as I arrived to a semi empty camp ground but it would soon fill up, so it took a while for people to quieten down for the night.

Today's ride: 103 km (64 miles)
Total: 190 km (118 miles)

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