Mountain Bike Nowa Nowa – The East Gippsland Rail Trail
With spring on its way Robyn and I decided to explore the East Gippsland Rail Trail in Victoria. The trail is a well maintained track along the old train line from Bainsdale to Orbost. As we were driving back from NSW we started the trail at the Orbost end.
Orbost is a small town on the banks of the famous Snowy River. It has a great bakery/eatery down one of the side lanes from the main street. The great coffee and cake were well worth the effort of finding it.
It also has its’ own “Goose Crossing signs” and this one came complete with the Goose.
The 94 km Rail Trail runs from Orbost to Nowa Nowa, then to Bruthen and Nicholson, finishing in Bairnsdale. The surface is superb being hard packed gravel most of the way. Some parts near Bairnsdale are even surfaced but I would recommend a hybrid or mountain bike. We did the first section to Nowa Nowa in lovely weather and cranking out a good speed on the hard packed gravel. This section is mainly through dense forest so you get the feeling of being alone in the bush, even though sometimes the road is quite close by. In fact we were alone, not seeing another cyclist or walker in the first 38km section.
The thrill of picking up speed on a slight down hill and then hearing a crashing through the undergrowth as a large Emu decides to streak across in front of you is not to be missed. The whole rail Trail has some remarkable old train trestle bridges still standing although now the trail is diverted around them as they are no longer safe.
Longest Trestle bridge near Orbost
The Rail Trail reaches the very small town of Nowa Nowa (pron. Now-a Now-a). I suppose the town was originally on the main road but now it has been bypassed. Luckily we had decided to find accommodation in the town which boasts a Pub, Caravan/cabin park and General Store. Not sure of the population but certainly not too far into double figures.
This was where we found The Mingling Waters Caravan Park. Now this is NOT your normal sort of park. No bouncing castles for the kids, no WiFi cafe, no boom gates, in fact not a lot except a great place to stay and a very welcoming host. It has a few powered caravan sites, plus tent sites and has a number of well appointed rustic style cabins that can sleep from 1-10 or so. They even have Bunk Houses for larger groups.
Best of all is the Mountain Bike trails that have been built in the area, 14 km or so loops that can go from mild to wild depending on how hard you want to push. There had been some recent flooding in the gorge but the tracks were still in great condition. Riders of any level can tackle these tracks as they have been designed to be easy enough for family groups but challenging enough when you push a little harder on the single track.
We found the area interesting, the riding and walking just perfect and the Caravan Park old style enough that we stayed an extra day. The park has an absolutely huge camp kitchen, complete with veranda and outdoor eating area. There is also a rustic lounge area with old style leather chairs and wood fire which we made good use of. The small shop/eatery at the park also did vegetarian meals so that was another bonus for us.
Nowa Nowa is apparently known for its fishing with Lake Tyers being just at the bottom of the Caravan Park, but the art of fishing is somewhat lost on me; I’m sure others would be impressed as apparently the Kayak Fishing fraternity are just starting to find out about the plentiful catch in the area.
The ride to Bruthen and Nicholson and then onto Bainsdale is quite straight forward with the track slowly widening out as you move into the more agricultural regions. A very nice Rail Trail trip of just on 95km and quite secluded until you reach the area of Bairnsade. In fact, we saw only 2 other cyclists on the trail during our trip. Where is everyone ? This is a perfect cycling trip for all abilities and there is Snowy River Cycling that will move you baggage for you and plan you accommodation for you if you are so inclined.
If you don’t want to ride the Rail Trail as a “thru-rider” my advice is to base yourself at Mingling Waters Caravan Park, Nowa Nowa and do day rides from there. That way you can ride the Rail Trail or get a little more adventurous on the Mountain Bike Loops. We will definitely be going back soon as there were a number of places we didn’t make such as Mt. Nowa Nowa, the ride to Lakes Entrance and a visit to the Den of Nargun, on the Mitchell River,where I have done a good deal of white water kayaking in the past.
At certain times of the year there are thermal pools near the caravan park with the water temperature being a beautiful 25 degrees, just perfect for a relaxing float if you are lucky enough to be there at the right time.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed the photos and thanks for dropping by.