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Murray to Mountain Rail Trail

20 Bright

Approaching Bright

If you love long-distance cycling in the vast open spaces of rural Australia, chances are you will enjoy riding on rail trails.  Apart  from a few shorter trails that can be ridden in one day, most are multi-day rides that require some forward planning.

In late March this year, just before the Covid-19 restrictions came into force, I rode the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail (M2M) in Victoria. It links the towns of Beechworth, Wangaratta, Milawa, in a north-west direction; then Myrtleford, Bright, and Wandiligong heading south-east.

M2M Google map.jp2

M2M Rail Trail, Victoria

The official M2M website declares the Trail to be 116 kilometres but that is only the main sections between the three bigger towns of Beechworth, Wangaratta, and Bright. Adding the smaller towns of Milawa and Wandiligong, and riding it all twice over (there and back) I rode a total of 264kms over four days (staying three nights), as calculated by my ebike odometer and confirmed by Strava.

A brief log of each day’s ride, with Strava maps and a few representative images, will give you a feel for what this ride is like. It’s a rather long blog report, but so was the ride.

Day 1: Beechworth to Wangaratta

I drove from Sydney and stayed overnight in Albury, followed by a 45km morning drive to the pretty town of Beechworth. It’s always exciting to start a long bike tour, and this was no exception; there is nothing more enticing that a rail trail that stretches into the distance.

Day 1 Beechworth to Wangeratta

Beechworth to Wangaratta

2 Leaving Beechworth

Leaving Beechworth

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Splendid isolation

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Old rural charm

5

Heading to Wangaratta

Day 2: Wangaratta to Myrtleford

With a sunny day ahead, I decided to take the 25 km diversion to Oxley and Milawa before heading to Myrtleford, making this the longest riding day at 108kms through lovely scenery and peaceful countryside (packing the spare battery was essential). The Milawa Cheese Company was my ‘light on the hill’ and it did not disappoint: the coffee and croissant were magnificent.

Day2 Wangeratta to Myrtleford

Wangaratta to Myrtleford

8

Oxley

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Milawa Cheese Company

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Day 3: Myrtleford to Bright

Arguably, the most scenic section of the M2M is from Myrtleford to Bright. I added a round trip to nearby Wandiligong to check out the historic gold diggings and the Chinese Bridge. Bright is a village full of charming bakeries and cafes which are definitely worth exploring.

Day 3 Myrtleford to Bright

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22 Chinese Bridge

Chinese Bridge, Wandiligong

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Gold Diggings, Wandiligong

Day 4: Myrtleford to Beechworth

 My last day’s ride was a hurried return from Myrtleford to Beechworth, then a drive back to Albury before the Covid inter-state border crossing restrictions came into force. My motel receptionist told me that inter-state travellers would be stopped at the border and ordered into quarantine, which turned out to be a rumour but believable enough for me to worry. I had the electric assist dialled all the way up for the final 30km leg, and barely stopped for photos.

 

23

Summary

Rail Trails are the Zen of cycling. Most are built where the views are great, with no traffic or crowds, just long stretches of meditative bike riding. The longer rides require more planning and can be isolated between towns, but worth the effort.

Click if you are interested in theVictorian Hight Country Trail and the Great Victorian Rail Trail. Other trails on my future to-do list: the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (162km), the East Gippsland Rail Trail (94km), the Great Southern Rail Trail (74km), and the new Tumbarumba to Rosewood Trail (22kms).  These distances are one-way.  If you have any favourites, feel free to comment below.

 

11 replies »

  1. Richard, that looks like a great ride, on the long day 108 klms do you take an extra battery or are you just very fit. I went to my local bike shop today In Brisbane to look over a Merida one twenty, but there was a line up six deep to get into the door!
    Tony

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Tony; I did invest in a second battery and glad that I did. I can get about75-80 kms on gentle terrain so the spare is essential. Its another chunk of weight but opens options. 100+kms is not hard on an ebike. Love the Meridas; this is my second.

      Like

    • Great article!! Thanks so much for sharing! I also Love rail trails and have ridden the Great Southern, and part of the Great Vic recently. Can’t wait to ride more rail trails!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great trip.All well sealed tracks with no road riding?You have a emountain bike?Would the trip be ok with a plain road ebike?Regards David.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The entire trail is a great surface, sealed in most parts or hard packed dirt elsewhere. The gradient is very gentle, as railway lines are originally built on flatter terrain. With that in mind, any kind of bike would be fine. cheers.

      Like

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