Monday, 30 June 2014

East Gippsland Rail Trail - Part 1

While staying just out of Bairnsdale I took advantage of the fine weather, it was June and winter after all, and tackled the Bruthen to Bairnsdale section of the trail. Depending on what information you reference this section is either 28km or 30.5km. It was more like 30.5 than 28!

Trevor dropped me in Bruthen.

Bruthen boasts a number of eateries. For such a small town, really only a village, it certainly has more than its fair share. It also has a brewery and numerous bric-a-brac stores. The public toilets were fresh and clean even if a little cool.

I had breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast with tomato and a cappuccino at the Blue Bee Cafe. My breakfast was very acceptable.

Suitably fed I headed for Service Street, across the grassed central strip, and turned in the direction of Bairnsdale.

The centre of Bruthen
At the end of Service street there was a path which lead to a foot bridge which took me over the rail trail.

The rail trail below the foot bridge in Bruthen
After crossing the bridge the path descended down to meet the rail trail. The only real decision point was which way to turn onto the trail. Fortunately I turned the correct way and headed up towards Wiseleigh.

The recent rain had filled up dams and water had collected in low lying areas. Fortunately this did not impact the rail trail.

A sign announcing where the Bruthen siding used to be

A remnant of Bruthen's station
The remains of one of the many timber bridges that supported the tracks crossed a low lying swampy area cum creek.

Large pipes have been laid under the bridge to help preserve it

Another view of the bridge
On reaching the Great Alpine Road at Wiseleigh trail users are advised to take care in crossing this major road. It was not too great a problem for me however I expect that it could be very tricky during peak holiday periods.

The signage on the trail at the commencement of each section was good in that it provided the distances to the major points along the track. Oops, what do you mean that it is 28km to Bairnsdale? I though that it was 28km from Bruthen and I had already walked a couple of ks!

As you drive along the Great Alpine Road there are roads off to quite a few places. The trail either crossed the road as a level crossing or the road passed over the top of the track with either a tunnel or bridge. At a number of the road level crossings the rails were clearly visible in the road surface as can be seen in the photo below.

There was not much to see at the point where the Mossiface siding used to be. If it wasn't for the sign I would have passed the spot and missed it.

The group of buildings in the next photo are, I believe, historic hop kilns.

The trail from Bruthen to Nicholson is primarily gravel as can be seen in the next photo.

Trees and scrub now line the track.

This is the first road bridge I came across. It was originally wooden with wooden supports.

The bridge structure has now been supplemented with steel supports.

An example of a trail tunnel

Looking at that tunnel from the other direction
At regular intervals along the trail there are distance posts. A pity that I kept missing them. On the other hand it would have been very difficult to miss the East Gippsland Water signs.

Another road tunnel with a slightly different design

The Bairnsdale region is now beginning to grow grapes. There was a huge vineyard running alongside the trail.

Finally I saw a distance marker. Yippee ... only 19kms to Bairnsdale. I had covered 9km since crossing the Great Alpine Road at Wiseleigh.

It was a lovely day. Much of the trail was sheltered from the gusty wind. When the wind did manage to get through it certainly had a bite.

The Bumberrah siding is some 18km from Bairnsdale. Like Mossiface it was marked with a sign. In addition it had a shelter with an information panel giving details of the old Bumberrah Railway Station and the importance of the dwindling native grassy woodlands. The shelter had seats, the first I had seen since leaving Wiseleigh. Sue had said that there were lots of seats along the route. If only! Normally you could just plonk down beside the track however the recent rain meant that the sides of the track were damp.

A cup of coffee, a piece of fruit and the removal of a layer from my top reinvigorated me.

What a glorious day ... bright and sunny
I suspect that the cement slab shown in the next photo belonged to the Bumberrah station or siding.

I think that the shrub sporting orange fruit is a lilly pilly. I came across quite a few specimens.

I was taunted by little birds who flitted into range and then flitted off before I could get a photo of them. Fortunately, at least one smallish bird was more considerate and this grey fantail sat on a twig for quite some time before departing.

Along with the very small birds and fantails and willy wagtails there were the usual parrots, magpies, crows and other larger birds. In places there were also water birds adding interest. In addition, I heard some kookaburras and bell bird.

In some spots the trail has narrowed. This has occurred where the banks of cuttings have been eroded as shown in the following photos.

And then I found another distance marker ... lucky 13.

and, finally, another seat which was most welcome. While the stop was brief it was good to get the weight off the feet.

Below is another example of the rails imbedded in the road surface.

The day was bright and sunny when I arrived at Nicholson.

Nicholson with its road bridge and a line of moored boats
There was an impressive foot bridge over the Nicholson River for those using the rail trail.

It was good to know that I had completed at least 21kms

but there was still 9kms to go.

The section of the trail between Nicholson and Bairnsdale is sealed. In some ways the gravel surface was a little easier on the feet however the sealed surface is probably more sustainable in the long term, particularly for the bike riders.

I did manage to see most of the distance makers between Nicholson and Phillips Lane, where I left the rail trail just before it reached Bairnsdale.

Sections along the trail looked quite swampy. This is consistent with what I had seen on previous meanders along this section of the trail.

Between the 4 and 3km distance markers were two bridges across swampy areas.

The first of the bridges

The second bridge also sported side rails.

A closer look at part of the second bridge

I was pleased to see Phillips Lane shortly after passing the 2km distance marker. I still had quite a way to go and the Princes Highway to cross before getting back to Sue's place

From the centre of Bruthen to Sue's place: 30.61km
Elevation gained: 328m and lost: 317m
Walking time: 5 hours 33 minutes

Overall impression:
I thoroughly enjoyed the walk. Except when passing through cuttings there were views across rolling, green fields and hills.

 The inclines were gentle, as you expect on a trail line. The surface was generally good, too.

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