Saturday, 22 February 2020

The Dookie Rail Trail: Cycling in North East Victoria

Dookie Rail Trail sign

The Dookie Rail Trail is a hidden gem half an hour's drive east of Shepparton in north east Victoria. At not quite 5 kms (10 kms return) it is much shorter than the usual trails we ride. However what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in scenery and charm. Struck by bad weather on a recent cycling trip to Victoria we found ourselves at the beginning of the Dookie Rail Trail with a promised few hours of clear skies. We parked the car, unloaded the bikes and headed out to discover rural Victoria at its best.





The Dookie Rail Trail


Trail Facts


Location: Dookie, Victoria - 30 kms east of Shepparton
Distance: 4.7 kms (9.4 kms return)
Surface: Sealed
Difficulty: Easy
Suitable for: All types of bikes
Facilities: A single picnic table is the only facility on the trail. There are no toilets or water. There are toilets, cafes, a hotel, shops and a park at the start of the trail in Dookie.
Website: Visit SheppartonRailTrails Australia

Dookie


At the last census Dookie had a population of 328 - not exactly a metropolis. The town has a hotel, emporium and general store spread along the main street, Mary Street. When you have finished cycling, walking or running the trail this is a great area to explore. David and I had lunch in the Dookie Emporium Cafe and then made the mistake of deciding to spend a few minutes browsing the emporium's huge, eclectic and fascinating collection of antiques, memorabilia and, lets face it, junk. An hour later we were still enthralled - especially David. After an hour and a half I managed, finally, to pull him away.

Dookie Rail Trail rest stop
A lone picnic table beside the trail


The start of the trail


You can't get lost in Dookie and you can't miss the start of the rail trail.  Look for a park (CWA Gardens) opposite the Gladstone Hotel. Along with toilets, BBQs, picnic tables, shady trees and a children's playground you'll fine a large sign marking the beginning of the trail.

Dookie Rail Trail
The start of the trail


When is the best time to go?


If you get the chance, explore the trail in late spring. We were there in early November 2019. This was hay making time, or maybe silage - does anyone know the difference? Once on our bikes we soon found ourselves surrounded by freshly cut fields and huge rolls of hay. Is there anything more heartwarming than looking out over a successful harvest?

Rolls of hay
Hay or silage?


The Katamatite Rail Extension


Don't miss the Katamatite Rail Extension sign beside the trail a few minutes from the start. Look closely at the photograph and you will see an actual car fitted with steel wheels. This 'railway car' once operated a daily service on the line.  I don't think I can imagine how uncomfortable it must have been.

Katamatite Rail Extension Railway Car
The Tiger railway car.

Mount Saddleback, Mount Major, Gentle Annie Hill and St Mary's Church


Look for Mount Saddleback, rising above the trail, Mount Major in the south and Gentle Annie Hill to the south-east - or do what I usually do and enjoy the scenery without having any idea what you are looking at. In case you are wondering, Gentle Annie was an early Irish settler known for her 'gentle temperament'.

One site you can't miss, unless you really try, is St Mary's Church. Although it was only built in 1998 it has that 'historic building' look to it. Look for it in the west.

St Mary's Church
St Mary's church

Wildlife and other animals


Pick up a Dookie Rail Trail map and pamphlet at the beginning of the trail, or download one from the Visit Shepparton link and you will be told to look for 'Willy the Wombat' at the third intersection (Hoopers Rd) where 'he has made a den in the under-road drain.' I think Willy may have become tired of the intrusions from well-meaning animal lovers and moved on. Not only did we not see Willy himself but as far as I could tell there was no evidence of any recent habitation. I am the first to admit I am no wombat expert so I am happy to be contradicted on this. Let me know if you have actually seen Willy in the recent past - or ever!

Don't despair however there are plenty of other birds and animals to keep an eye out for. Echidnas, blue tongue lizards, kangaroos, a myriad of small birds and even a pair of wedge-tailed eagles are said to inhabit the trail area. You may even get lucky and see a koala. If not there are plenty of sheep, and we even saw a small herd of camels.

Dookie Rail Trail
Not a wild animal in sight. We did see some camels and cute little birds.

The end of the trail


The trail ends at the Dookie-Katamatite Rail Line Bushland Reserve. We tried cycling along it but found it had too many tree roots for easy cycling. It would be lovely to walk. To extend your ride, head east along Treacy Rd near the end of the trail and turn north at Panter Rd which goes on, roughly, forever. There are also grid patterns of sealed and unsealed quiet country roads leading off the trail at several intervals.

Giant Liv Mountain Bike
Back at the beginning of the trail

Other posts from our Victorian road trip


Other rail trails and cycle paths in Victoria


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Dookie Rail Trail


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8 comments:

  1. The rail extension 'car' looks quite creative. A bit less costly than a proper train. I think I could do a short trail like this. And, the emporium sounds like it would get my attention.

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    1. It's a pity you can't take a ride in the rail car. It would be lots of fun. The emporium was an absolute Aladdins Cave.

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  2. What a fun little ride! And pretty - love the scenery. Willy the Wombat sounds like he would fit right into our normal success rate of seeing local wildlife, which is pretty close to never. While we're far from Dookie, you've inspired us to find some local trails we can ride this spring. And our terrain looks much the same - mostly flat with fields of hay. ;)

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    1. If I remember correctly, you live in America. If you go to www.traillink.com you will find a fantastic resource on trails in the U.S. Traillink covers not just cycling trails but just about every kind of trail you could imagine. Some of them we can only dream about in Australia like snowmobiling and cross country skiing.

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  3. Okay, we have to admit that you captured our attention with the title of this article. You are certainly aware that Dookie Trail could have a different meaning, if left to the imagination. What a wonderful surprise to find that it was an opportunity to explore the countryside.

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    1. Oh dear! I just googled dookie. What an unfortunate alternative meaning - lol. I wonder if the locals know this. I think it must be American slang. I have never heard of dookie as a slang word here in Australia.

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  4. Such pleasant country scenery on the Dookie rail trail! It reminds me of here in the Netherlands, except much less flat!

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    1. The rail trail is relatively flat. That's why we like them so much. My first long cycle was in the Netherlands when I was in my twenties. The countryside was flat but we didn't appreciate we had a tailwind until we turned around and flipped it into a head wind. I still remember the long struggle to get back to our accommodation.

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