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Nomads Outdoors Group – East Gippsland Rail Trail, Nicholson to Bairnsdale walk

July 7

East Gippsland rail trail - a long bridge over a large body of water

Travel through the Latrobe Valley by train with views to the Baw Baw Plateau, a pub lunch, two short river walks with historic rail bridges and a bat colony.

GRADE | LENGTH | TYPE: Easy to Moderate 13.5 km walk, slightly undulating/flat on a paved, shared cycle rail trail and partly gravel on the river walks.

A long day of travel but the current low fares makes venturing further out to new areas more appealing. Travel by train to Bairnsdale, then a short bus ride to Nicholson where we will have lunch on arrival at the Nicholson Hotel. After lunch we walk to the Nicholson River, past the small marina and to the East Gippsland Rail Trail with views of the rail bridge along the way. This part of the rail trail is on the far western end and 9 km long, and is part of the former Bairnsdale to Orbost rail line (opened 1916 and closed 1987) that mostly carried timber and farming produce. Passenger trains ceased in the 1930s and the line was dismantled in 1994. This part of the trail passes through open farmland predominantly for cattle and horse grazing with some long straight stretches and distant views to the Gippsland Lakes in some sections until we reach Howitt Park and the Mitchell River, just east of the main part of Bairnsdale. We view what’s left of the former rail bridge across the river and the Little Swing Bridge across Clifton Creek, then we cross the river on the Princes Highway bridge (1958). We will walk along part of the Mitchell River walking track to view the small fruit bat colony (Grey-headed flying fox) – if we have time, then backtrack a little bit before cutting across town to the station. We may stop at the Grand Terminus Hotel (1889) for a quick drink, again, if we have time, before catching the train home.