As a destination Victoria’s North East is a cycling paradise, as The Cycle Tourist discovered much to his delight during a recent three-week visit to the region.
Such are the attractions for cyclists in this part of Victoria that an ever increasing number of road, mountain bike and recreational cyclists are beating a well worn path to the area to experience cycling’s equivalent of utopia.
With breathtaking scenery, alpine descents and climbs, clean air, quiet and often traffic free roads, the freedom of cross-country trails, the rush of off-road downhill courses and a multitude of paved rail trails, there is something on offer for every cyclist.
Throw in family friendly tourist attractions, a local community that welcomes cyclists of all persuasions with open arms, a wide variety of accommodation options and it is hard to think of a reason not to load your bicycle on the car and head off.
With his mountain bike in tow on this particular trip, The Cycle Tourist’s objectives were to cycle the entire length of the Murray to Mountain Rail Trail (achieved), experience a number of the area’s mountain bike trails (achieved), cycle to the top of Mt Buffalo (achieved) and to visit winter snow resort Falls Creek to cycle a number of the resort’s off-road trails (achieved).
While not the focus of this particular trip, from the number of groups of road cyclists seen it was obvious the area is extremely popular as a training destination given the diverse landscape, the quality of the roads and the fact that there is little or no traffic (in the summer months).
For anyone keen to avoid all road traffic, Victoria’s North East offers some of the best rail trail rides anywhere in Australia. All of the trails are well signposted, are fully paved and provide water stops and shaded rest areas.
But best of all they are suitable for all standards of cyclists from serious riders out for a tough training ride through to families eager to spend some bike friendly time together.
Full details of the various rail trail rides are available at bike shops, cafes and visitor information centres in the region – or just start riding, you basically can’t go wrong given the extensive signage doted along all the trails.
Victoria’s High Country Cycle Guide – a must-read publication available at most tourist outlets throughout the region – lists the top 10 rail trail rides. All, from The Cycle Tourist’s experience are well worth conquering.
If rail trails are not your thing, for mountain bikers the choice of trails on offer is almost bewildering, with the North East offering some seriously awesome off-road destinations.
- Mansfield to Bonnie Doon and back (Great Victorian Rail Trail) – Head out to Bonnie Doon along the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail, with the highlight Lake Eildon.
- Bright to Gapsted (Murray to Mountains Rail Trail) – Take in the spectacular valley views as you cruise past wineries and old tobacco farms on this iconic section of the rail trail.
- Beechworth to Myrtleford (Murray to Mountains Rail Trail) - A lovely ride through a mixture of native bush and fertile farm land. Finishes of at Myrtleford where there is plenty to see and do.
- Wodonga to Tallangatta and back (High Country Rail Trail) – A ride for all the family, hugging the shoreline of Lake Hume - offers great views and a sense of open space.
- Beechworth to Milawa (Murray to Mountains Rail Trail) – Starting in Beechworth this mainly downhill ride cruises past numerous wineries and farms selling local produce.
- Rutherglen to Wahgunyah (Murray to Mountain Rail Trail) – Try some of Victoria’s best fortified wines as you ride through rich farmland before reaching the spectacular Murray River.
- Bonegilla to Old Tallangatta (High Country Rail Trail) – This trail tracks along the spectacular Lake Hume.
- Wangaratta to Milawa (Murray to Mountains Rail Trail) – This trail offers flat riding through open country from the regional hub of Wangaratta to Milawa
- Beechworth to Everton Station (Murray to Mountains Rail Trail) - An easy roll down the hill starting at the tourist town of Beechworth – a great ride for the kids.
- Yea to Yarck (Great Victorian Rail Trail) – Ride through the amazing Cheviot Tunnel on this stretch of the rail trail.
While it would take years to ride all the trails on offer, ‘Victoria’s High Country Cycle Guide’ lists the top 10 “must do” trails that local riders consider to be the “best”.
The bottom line is that there is an amazing selection of rides available in Victoria’s North East, so start planning your next biking holiday – you won’t be disappointed.
- Copperhead (Mount Buller) – Australia’s first flow style downhill trail suitable for all types of bikes and riders.
- Flame Trees (Beechworth) – An easy graded trail that cuts off either side of the rail trail at various points and forms a loop. A delight to ride – as ‘The Cycle Tourist’ can attest – the ride is suitable for all grades of cyclists from novices to experienced riders.
- Stonefly (Mount Buller) – Said by many to be Australia’s best mountain bike trail, Stonefly is 10km of thrills for advanced endurance enthusiasts that goes from Mount Buller to Mount Sterling. The highlight is a sensational descent that will leave you exhilarated.
- Delatite (Mount Buller) – The Delatite River Trail is a sensational ride that takes you on a thrilling and scenic tour down to Mirimbah at the base of the mountain. Along the way you cross the river a number of times.
- Cudgewa to Corryong (High Country Rail Trail extension) – A ride that takes you back in time through Victoria’s pioneering history.
- Warby Ranges (Wangaratta) – Great single tracks dot the Warby Ranges which are just north of Glenrowan.
- Historic Huts Run (Falls Creek) – Experience the history of the region with a cross country tour of some of the oldest alpine huts in the High Country. The 15km return intermediate loop is suitable for most riders.
- Mount McKay Loop (Falls Creek) – A great ride for fit bikers that takes you to the highest drivable point in Australia with views as far as Mount Hotham and Mount Feathertop.
- Mount Beauty Mountain Bike Park (Mount Beauty) – A variety of free cross country trails and an exciting downhill course for advanced riders ... there is something for everyone.
- Roger Packham Trail (Bright) – A thrill-packed single track for intermediate and advanced riders – 2km of fantastic fun and excitement.