It only took 5 months!


Thats how long it took for me to complete the Great Victorian Rail Trail (GVRT, previously know as the Goulburn Valley High Country Rail Trail). In September last year I rode the Tallarook – Mansfield trail, which is most of the trail, but I didn’t do the Cathkin – Alexandra branch at that time. Today I rode that section, so now I have completed the whole GVRT!

Alexandra Railway Crane

Alexandra Railway Crane

The Cathkin – Alexandra branch is a 14km trail with all the old railway bridges rebuilt, similar to the Tallarook – Mansfield trail. The trail surface was a little corrugated in places, but not to the point of being dangerous unless you have no idea how to ride a bike! It closely follows the formation of the former Victorian Railways branch of the same name. There were some great views towards the Cathedral Range near the highest point of the ride.

View from trail near highest point on ride

View from trail near highest point on ride

View from trail near highest point on ride

View from trail near highest point on ride

I had left home at 9am, and travelled along fairly boring highways and freeways till Euroa then turned towards Alexandra via Merton. Arriving at Alexandra about 12:10, I got my bike ready and headed towards Cathkin. The trail at Alexandra starts with a fairly tough but short climb, followed by a deceptive descent. I say deceptive because it wasn’t very long and then there was another climb to the highest point on the trail. Then there is a fairly steep descent for a few kilometres followed by a gradual descent pretty much all the way to Cathkin.

Along the way I had a couple of snake-related scares – I saw one brown snake and managed to avoid it, but a few kilometres further on I saw another longer one and ran over the end of it’s tail. As I knew I was going to run over it I promptly put my legs up as high up as possible (with my feet at about handlebar height, if you want a mental picture). The snake didn’t seem to strike but I did a quick check for twin puncture marks which would suggest a snake bite but found none, and as I didn’t feel any strike I figured the possibility of being bitten was low so I continued on. That second encounter scared me a bit, but the snake didn’t seem to take much notice of my running over the tip of it’s tail. It should be noted that these two encounters with snakes were the first times I had every encountered a snake on a bike ride. And I wondered whether it was the time of day – most of my rides are early in the morning or late towards evening. Mental note: watch out for snakes on this holiday! Following are some photos of the trail.

Shelter near highest point on the ride

Shelter near highest point on the ride

Cutting

Cutting a few kilometres out of Alexandra

Eglington Gap

Eglington Gap – the highest point on the trail

I completed the ride at about 1:45 and as I had not had any lunch (I didn’t want to ride on a full stomach!) I then promptly found a take away shop and purchased a Vegetarian Burger which didn’t take long to get devoured.

Alexandra is on the Maroondah highway so I decided to continue along it to Healsville then turn south to my parents house where I was going to be staying for most of the holiday. But as there was a car hauling a large boat I decided to go the scenic route and turned off at Buxton onto the Acheron way which goes over the mountain range to Warburton. Travelling along the Acheron Way and through Warburton was probably no quicker than going through Healsville and the Black Spur. Actually it probably took longer! But it was really pleasant driving along the Acheron Way and I am glad I went that way as I only saw two cars between Buxton and Warburton – one was trying to turn around and had managed to block the road not far fro a corner. I’m guessing he got his licence from a cereal box!

From Warburton it was a veeery leisurely drive to Woori Yallock, then to Cockatoo, and then finally to my parents house.

GPS data for today’s ride can be found at: http://www.strava.com/activities/117097685