From The Murray To The Mountains

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So your bike can take you to work, to a date, to visit your gran. This year. why not crank it up a notch and let your bike take you on a holiday?  And for safety, infrastructure and scenery, Victoria’s Rail Trails are the perfect no-worries mate option.  Constructed along the paths of old railway lines, these trails are mainly flat and well surfaced.  Rail trails are suitable for folk of all cycling abilities.  Converted railway stations now have bike racks, simple composting toilets, a picnic table and a rainwater tank: perfect.

The Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail runs 98km from Wangaratta to Bright, with an optional hilly 16km trail to Beechworth.  In coming years it will extend to Corowa on the Murray River.  The trail could be ridden in a day, but add panniers or a trailer with camping gear and you’ve got a trip that could go for a week or more.

The trail takes in farmland, picturesque grasslands, Box Ironbark forests and the glorious Ovens River.  As you travel further east, the trees get bigger and the water clearer as the flat landscape turns to rocky mountain views.  And the beauty of a bike is you can get off at any time to climb a tree or sit and gaze at the clouds.

Be prepared to fuel your body lavishly on local produce.  This part of Victoria is foodie heaven, with wineries, bakeries, berry and honey producers – even a high-end butter factory keen to cater for all comers.  Particular highlights are the Beechworth brewery, with its beer tastings and gourmet pizzas (blue cheese and apple anyone?); Cafe Fez in Myrtleford, with Middle Eastern flavours served amongst wild mosaics and exotic lamps; and Porepunkah’s Rail Trail Cafe, which has relaxed garden tables, generous servings and excellent coffee.

Cycling for a week without relying on any power other than your own legs is liberating.  And cycling a rail trail means letting go of the anxieties that are a necessary survival tactic when sharing your commute with cars.  So next holiday, ditch the car, sling your bike on the train, and pedal yourself happy.

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