The Great Southern Rail Trail

Running from the New South Wales border to Phillip Island in Victoria, Gippsland is one of those rare regions in Australia where the grass is green, the rivers full and the countryside bucolic. All this verdant beauty comes at a price though, and that price is rain - lots and lots of rain. David and I are fair weather cyclists. We first came to South Gippsland to cycle the Great Southern Rail Trail (GSRT) in November 2019. We got one perfect day, one okay day and two days of wet, windy weather. Instead of the whole trail, we managed little more than a third, but it was a magical third.  We came back in 2021 (and again in 2023) to fill in the blanks.  We both agree The Great Southern Rail Trail is the best rail trail in Australia.  The scenery is lovely, the towns are idyllic and the wildlife, especially the koalas and echidnas we have seen right next to the trail, is magical. 

The Great Southern Rail Trail - Updated March 2023

Location - South Gippsland, Victoria between Nyora in the west and Port Welshpool in the east.
Distance - 109 km
Surface - Unsealed
Difficulty - Easy to moderate
Suitable for - Mountain bikes, touring bikes, e-bikes
Website - Great Southern Rail Trail - Rail Trails Australia 
FacebookGreat Southern Rail Trail

Nyora to Loch - 6 km

Nyora is a sad beginning to an otherwise lovely trail. The old station looks neglected and unloved and the trail itself begins with scattered litter and debris. I have confidence however that one of the wonderful volunteer groups which do such a fantastic job of maintaining and beautifying Australia's rail trails will take Nyora under its wing. Given the official opening of this part of the Great Southern Rail Trail doesn't take place until 1 April 2023, a few weeks from when I am writing this in early March 2023, it is entirely possible that plans are already in place to fix things up a bit.

Before I am shouted down by the locals I would add that Nyora, the town, is lovely - one of those rustic and charming places which seems to have escaped the ravages of the modern world.

Lovely too is the scenery on this section of the trail. Once again I was mesmerised by the beauty of the giant eucalyptus stands. Keep your eye out for them along the banks of the creeks as you cross the bridges. 

The trains might be gone but apparently they are not forgotten.

David crossing the first of many bridges on the GSRT

If you want to let someone else do the hard work organising bikes, accommodation and transfers from Melbourne then book a fully supported bicycle tour. David is a do-it-yourself kind of person when it comes to holidays but I would love to give one of these a try one day.

Lock to Korumburra - 15.8 km

Our personal rule of always cycling uphill on the way out and downhill on the way home matters a lot less since we crossed to the dark side and began cycling on e-bikes. Today however was forecast to be windy - very windy! The Bureau of Meteorology App on our phones warned us of 57 km/h gusts. David, who is something of an expert when it comes to the weather, decreed we should ride into the wind on the way out so it would be behind us on the way home. 

Beginning at Korumburra we headed uphill to Loch. The climb didn't last long before we were into a long downhill stretch. It should have been an easy outward cycle but after about 30 metres the wind was so strong I was ready to give up and go home convinced the next gust would blow me off my bike entirely. It didn't. Instead I turned up the power level and struggled on. I can tell you though, it wasn't fun. 

After 15.8 km of unabated struggle we arrived at the remains of Loch railway station. There is nothing there except a raised area where the platform once was and a few buildings of uncertain purpose.  If you want cafes and toilets then cycle through the tunnel into town.  At least the old station gave us a chance to sit down before heading back to Korumburra, this time with the wind at our backs.

A welcome sight!

I would like to say that Hilda Falls was worth stopping for - but it wasn't. There was no water at all. Perhaps we came at the wrong time of year.

Facilities: There are no seats, picnic tables or other facilities along this stretch. If you want to take a break there is a small town called 'Bena' about half way along which has a bus stop style bench near the trail and a small park - no toilets There is a ramp up to the town but no sign so you will have to rely on Google Maps to find it. Korumburra has toilets at the old station. There is a sign to toilets at Loch but I couldn't find them. There are however toilets in the town - just cycle through the tunnel.

Parking: There is plenty of parking at both the old Korumburra railway station and Loch. If you park on the town side of the trail you need to access the trial by cycling through the tunnel.

Korumburra to Leongatha - 15.4 km

Yesterday's wind was still with us and to add to our misery the temperature had dropped to what felt like arctic levels. Somedays you should just stay in bed - but we didn't! Determined to keep going on what was now our seventh straight day of cycling we loaded the bikes on the car and headed to Leongatha. Our aim was, like yesterday (Korumburra to Loch and back), to cycle into the wind on the way out and have the force 10 gale at our backs on the way home.

Even on e-bikes this section is relentless.  Take my advice and start at Leongatha. In the Leongatha to Korumburra direction there is about a kilometre of downhill and the rest is steady uphill. It is hard work. Struggling against the wind doesn't help either. The reward is on the way home though - downhill the whole way  - with barely a need to turn the pedals.

If only the sun had come out, or the wind had dropped, I would tell you this section was unmissable. The views were almost worth the effort. I have a soft spot for eucalypts which shed their bark and expose the stunning colours underneath. Many of the gums along this trail were in full bark shedding mode. Add this to the views across rolling farmland, especially from the highest parts of the trail approaching Korumburra and the effect is magical.

Aren't the colours lovely.

The Korumburra station picnic tables out of the wind were very welcome.

Facilities: Like the Korumburra to Loch section of the trail there is not a single spot to sit down in the whole 15 kms. I don't want to sound ungrateful because the trail is great - but the odd seat or picnic table would be nice. There are toilets at both ends.

Parking: There is plenty of parking at the old Korumburra railway station. In Leongatha although the trail begins at Horticultural Park, Young Street we parked in Hughes St, near the corner with Turner St. By doing this we avoided the difficult section where the trail crosses the A440.

Leongatha to Koonwarra - 7.8 km

After climbing to a peak of 226m at Korumburra the trail finally begins to level out not far from Leongatha with the eucalyptus stands lining the trail giving way to dairy country. 

We cycled this part of the trail in 2019, then again in 2023. In 2023, a few kilometres from Leongatha we came across a koala sitting in the middle of the trail. Sadly he didn't stay long enough for me to get a photo.

The Ethical Food Store at Koonwarra was a welcome break before we pushed on to Meeniyan and Fish Creek. I highly recommend their cafe.

Dairy Country

A great place to stop and rest!

Koonwarra to Meeniyan -  8.2 km

Yet again, we cycled this in reverse, starting at Meeniyan and finishing at Koonwarra. I think we do it to confuse people.

At only 8.2 km (16.4 km return) this was a short ride even for us. In 2019 the weather was threatening from the outset and despite valiant efforts by the sun to break through, any ideas we had of continuing on for the extra 7.8 kms to Leongatha were destroyed by the threatening skies as we arrived at Koonwarra. A quick lunch and coffee and we headed back to Meeniyan just ahead of a storm. We made it back to the car minutes before the heavens opened. On our return journey in 2021 we managed to make it all the way to Fish Creek and in 2023 we turned around at Meeniyan.

This section of the trail is beautifully scenic with the chance to look for birds in the overhead tree canopy at the Koonwarra end. We spotted several yellow-tailed black cockatoos. They seemed to be watching us as much as we were watching them. There are four trestle bridges crossing the Tarwin River and Black Spur Creek. I always enjoy coming across rail trail bridges and these were no exception.

GSRT trestle bridge
David at one of the trestle bridge crossings.


See the section on Meeniyan to Fish Creek for a description of Meeniyan.


Another town which grew up in the 1890s as a railway station on the South Gippsland line, Koonwarra is an idyllic village untroubled by traffic from the nearby South Gippsland Highway.  It is well worth setting aside half an hour or so to explore.

Koonwarra cafe
The Koonwarra cafe where we had coffee before the return cycle to Meeniyan.


There is car parking at Koonwarra and Meeniyan as well as the Tarwin River crossing closest to Meeniyan.


Both Koonwarra and Meeniyan have cafes and toilets.

Meeniyan to Fish Creek - 18.3 km

At 18.3 kms (36.6 kms return) Meeniyan to Fish Creek is perfect for an out and back day cycle. The uphill gradient is so negligible for the first 12 kms you will hardly know you are gaining height, but on the way home the ride is easy. Then from just past Buffalo there is a gentle climb for 3 kms up to Boys Road followed by another 3 kms of downhill into the town of Fish Creek.

Great Southern Rail Trail
Bucolic views near Fish Creek


Meeniyan began life in the 1890s as a station on the South Gippsland railway line. It has craft shops, art galleries and cafes in the main street. On the afternoon we set aside to go wandering the heavens opened - not only are we fair-weather cyclists but we are fair-weather window shoppers as well. Suffice it to say Meeniyan looked like it would happily repay an hour or so spent exploring its treasures. 

Meeniyan GSRT
The community gardens at Meeniyan and Koonwarra were a highlight.


In 2021, 11 kms from Meeniyan we arrived at Buffalo. Our plan was to grab a coffee and cake for morning tea. Sadly the rather grandly named Buffalo Emporium looked like it had recently, and permanently, closed down. (It was still closed in 2023.) We sat outside the emporium, enjoying the silence and our pre-packed lunch instead. 

Buffalo Victoria
The grandly named 'Buffalo Emporium'.

Fish Creek

A couple of kilometres out of Fish Creek the trail begins to rise. The scenery is gorgeous - green rolling hills dotted with cows and old farm buildings. Then with two kilometres you reach the top and coast down into Fish Creek. An idyllic little town with a welcoming community garden and 'fish' theme throughout, like Meeniyan Fish Creek began life in the 1890s as a railway station on the South Gippsland railway line. Today there are a myriad  of art and craft shops, perfect for wandering around while you gather your strength for the return cycle. 

Fish Creek Community Garden
Fish Creek Community Garden


The Great Southern Rail Trail goes through koala country. Since koalas sleep 20 hours a day, often in branches at the top of very tall gum trees they are notoriously difficult to spot, especially if you are on a bicycle and really should be watching the trail ahead not lost in scanning the tree tops.  Maybe we got lucky, who knows, but we have seen koalas twice on the trail directly in front of us. In 2019 on our ride back to Meeniyan there was a koala on the trail a few metres ahead. He scampered up the nearest tree, right next to the trail, and stopped in the fork of some branches just above the height of our heads - and he stayed there looking down at us as though we were as fascinating to him as he was to us. It was magical.

Then in 2021 we saw another. This time he was just sitting in the middle of the trail - as if he was waiting for us to cycle by.

Koala on Great Southern Rail Trail
One of the koalas we met along the trail.


There are places to park your car at Meeniyan, Stony Creek (3kms from Meeniyan), Buffalo (10 kms from Meeniyan) and Fish Creek.


Meeniyan and Fish Creek are both cute little country towns. Meeniyan and Fish Creek have cafes and other shops. Meeniyan, Fish Creek and Buffalo all have toilets.

Fish Creek to Toora - 22.6 km

After a not too taxing climb from Fish Creek to Foster the trail runs gently down hill all the way to Toora. In 2019 not far from Toora we spotted an echidna by the side of the trail. In 2023 we saw another two echidnas beside the trail near Meeniyan. I never tire of seeing these cute little animals.

Our echidna!

Did I say this is dairy country - a fact driven home to us with a vengeance. In 2021 on our way back from Toora we came across a herd of very large cows which, as cows do, had gathered in a group ready to be milked. The problem was that this gathering took place, as no doubt it does regularly twice a day, right across the rail trail. Cycling toward Toora many hours previously we passed through two sets of gates a few metres apart, and thought nothing of it. On our way back the few metres of trail between the gates was wall to wall cows. The cows way forward was blocked by a different gate ahead of them and our way through was blocked by the cows. There was nothing for it except to wait for the farmer to come and open the gate to allow his cows to continue on their way. So we waited, and waited, and waited. We waited so long I began to worry about whether we could make it back to our car in the daylight, and David began to plot making a run for it and hoping we wouldn't be crushed in the attempt. Finally the farmer turned up, the cows went on their way and we got back to cycling. The cynic in me wondered whether this wasn't a bit of passive revenge on the part of a farmer unhappy about the existence of the rail trail. 

Cows blocking our path.

Toora to Port Welshpool - 15.2 km

Toora to Welshpool is the least interesting part of the trail. It travels through dairy country which is pretty enough but unspectacular and monotonous.  Unlike so much of the earlier parts of the trail there is no noticeable gradient here so at least the cycling is easy.  Welshpool itself is so small as to be almost non-existent, although Port Welshpool, a further 5 km has a long jetty worth cycling out to. 

Port Welshpool Jetty

Me - looking exhausted.


Visit Prom Country has an extensive list of accommodation in a variety of styles. We rented a cottage at Citrus Grove. I can highly recommend it. It was clean and modern with lovely views. Its only drawback is that it is not directly on the trail. 10 minutes by car north-west of Leongatha, it worked well for us but wouldn't be suitable if you don't have a car.

Read my other posts on Victoria here.

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  1. I'm happy to see you back on your cycling adventures. E-bikes sound like a great idea, especially to extend your range. The trail sounds lovely and I too would not enjoy the rain.

    1. The e-bikes are terrific fun. I can't wait to try them on a long ride.

  2. We have a rails and trails system in our community, so I enjoy hearing about other offerings around the world. It looks like there is so much to do along this lengthy system!

    1. Old railway lines are being developed into rail trails all around the world. We have cycled them in New Zealand, Canada and the USA as well as Australia.

  3. I’ve became a ebike rider in the last year have not look back to one for a test ride In Queenstown back in 2018 and I was convinced.
    But I do have a dicky heart and lung problems well that my excuse.
    Thanks for the helpful information.

    1. E-bikes are tremendous fun. I can't wait to do some longer trails with mine. I love the idea of going further for the same amount of effort.

  4. Wow. That looks fun. I've not heard of this either (the old railway lines) but I know they're doing that in Singapore too.

    1. It is happening all over the world. David and I have cycled on countless rail trails in New Zealand and the USA as well as Australia. In Europe they have old canal towpaths which serve much the same purpose. We have plans to cycle a towpath in France later this year.

  5. Sadly, we don't ride our bikes as often as we used to. Reading this sure gives us some added inspiration though! Would love to have some trails as nice and enticing near our home. While we are getting more trails in residential areas, road riding is required to get most anywhere still. :( Thanks again for sharing!

    1. We avoid riding on roads whenever we can. Often that means loading the bikes onto the car first and driving to a trail.

  6. I’ve ridden the trail from Meeniyan to Port Welshpool and love it all. For the very much more adventurous do the Hoddle Mountain trail out of Fish creek, the views are simply breath taking but it’s not for the light hearted.
    I ride a Giant Roam hybrid predominantly on these trails but for the Hoddle Mountain trail I’d use my mountain bike if I did it again.
    As for the ebikes I ride a Giant Explorer ebike to commute 50kms a day through the week. I can’t recommend this bike any more for this purpose.

    1. David and I just bought two Giant Explorer ebikes. I loved mine on a short ride. I bought the Explorer rather than the ladies version because it is easier to carry on the car. We can't wait to test them out on a long rail trail. Sadly we were in a bad car accident in mid-December so it might be a while. I was hurt quite badly but I am on the mend.

  7. Thank you for this wonderful summary of this section of the Great Southern Rail Trail. We live in South Gippsland and recently stayed over night in Toora and rode the trail to Foster, Fish Creek and return. We felt this was the best part of our Rail Trail but that goes to show you that every section is interesting and has fabulous views and is well worth the ride.
    The trail is being extended from Leongatha to Korumburra and hopefully back to our Shire boarder near Nyora and beyond over the next couple of years. This will make it even more worthwhile for a weeks cycling holiday or day visits for different sections.

    1. It is great to hear from a fellow cyclist. Yours are the sorts of comments which keep me writing. I couldn't agree more about what a great trail it is. David and I have plans to go back there later this year. We have bought ebikes so I'm hoping we can get all the bits of the trail we missed the first time under our belts.

  8. OMG the koala on the tree is so adorable! I would love to be able to bike through a koala country. Where we live it's more of a mosquito country in the summer. The best times to bike are early spring, though fall can be very pretty too.

    1. By your use of the word 'fall' I gather you are from North America. I am going to guess you are Canadian because of the mosquitoes. Spring and Autumn are also great biking months here in Oz, although spring brings out the nesting magpies protecting their nests by swooping on hapless cyclists and pedestrians. It can be a bit terrifying. I wrote a post about them once if you are interested -

      Anyway, the koala was fabulous. While kangaroos are common in the Australian bush (and our own back yard), seeing a koala is a real treat. Hubby and I are heading back to The Great Southern Rail Trail very soon and I will be looking out for koalas.