Bellarine Rail Trail
The trail is primarily constructed of compacted, crushed rock and provides a high quality surface suitable for all bikes other than those fitted with racing tyres.
The Bellarine Rail Trail mostly follows the reserve of the old Geelong-Queenscliff railway, established in 1879 to service the military fort at Queenscliff. The railway soon became a popular service with visitors heading to the coastal holiday resort, an alternative to the bay paddle steamers. Eventually, diminishing freight and a lack of patronage saw the service finally closed in 1976.
The rail trail begins near the Geelong Showgrounds, about one kilometre from the South Geelong railway station and ends near the historic Queenscliff railway station. It is mainly flat, with some short, steep climbs up from Leopold toward Curlewis and Drysdale. Steam trains still run on the section between Queenscliff and Drysdale. The Bellarine Peninsula Railways vintage trains carry passengers on Sundays and public holidays.
There are many access points to the trail and bay scenery and birdlife are some of the highlights. In the future, it is planned to link the trail with the Barwon River trail network and Eastern Park.
Sections of the trail between the South Geelong Railway Station and the Bellarine Highway, and Melaluka Road and Curlewis Road are sealed to provide a quality surface in high traffic areas.
The surrounding reserve features areas of remnant, indigenous vegetation, creating a safe and tranquil environment for users.
Starting at the South Geelong Station, the trail moves through the eastern suburbs of Geelong and onto the Bellarine Peninsula through Leopold and Drysdale, terminating at the Queenscliff Railway Station.
Christies Road, Leopold is a popular stepping off point with toilets, shelter and drinking fountain - as is Drysdale Railway Station.
Suma Park has a shelter and toilets making it a welcome resting spot during the return climb from Queenscliff.
There is another shelter where the trail crosses Swan Bay Road at Mannerim.
Emergency and distance markers are installed at kilometre intervals along the trail.
The trail is popular with weekend recreational cyclists as the 35km length one way makes for a decent ride with the added bonus of excellent views of the surrounding farmland and coast.
The gradient is mostly easy and flat with a gradual climb in some places. Families with young children often choose to avoid the return uphill climb from Queenscliff to Mannerim by either hopping on the steam train or arranging other transport.
Revegetation and maintenance works continue on an ongoing basis.
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