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Great Southern Rail Trail & Tarra Trail - Trail Description



Great Southern Rail Trail & Tarra Trail

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Type: Rail trail
Location: South Gippsland, 130km from Melbourne
Start/end: Leongatha to Port Welshpool
Status: Open
Length open: 74km
Surface: Fine gravel
Best seasons: All seasons
Public transport: Coach
Features: tourist
Contact Region: Gippsland, Victoria
Typical Scenery between Fish Creek and Hoddle (2014)
Typical Scenery between Fish Creek and Hoddle (2014)
Suitable for walking Suitable for cycling mountain bikes Suitable for cycling touring hybrid bikes Suitable for wheelchairs Suitable for horse riding Suitable for prams



  • A picturesque rail trail close to Melbourne, Phillip Island and Wilsons Promontory. 
  • This rail trail has seen many major improvements in recent years including the opening of the Black Spur bridges near Koonwarra in March 2016.
  • The rail trail has a wide smooth hard packed gravel surface and only one crossing of a major road, after Meeniyan.
  • Take the full 74km journey or choose shorter segments for a more leisurely outing. Make sure to stop and explore the towns that are linked along it, with their unique stories and experiences they offer... as well as the terrific coffee, shopping and dining opportunities.


  • Combine your rail trail journey with other regional attractions such as Agnes Falls, Walkerville Lime Kilns, Coal Creek Heritage Village, or Wilsons Promontory National Park.

  • Accommodation options are available in the towns along the trail.
  • for further information on activities and accommodation.
  • Travel further east to Yarram or Port Albert for another 13km of trail mainly following the old railway line called the Tarra Trail

Support Services

Fish Creek Logo webFish Creek Bed & Breakfast

Close to Wilsons Prom and local beaches but conveniently located within walking distance (700 metres) of Fish Creek eateries, galleries, rail trail (and even a bus stop)


meeniyan logo webMeeniyan Motel

Situated directly across from the Great Southern Rail Trail, Meeniyan Motel & Bike Hire is the Prom Country’s premier hire depot covering all your cycling needs.





Access Points

  • Leongatha: Horticultural Park, 1 Young St.
  • Koonwarra: adjacent to the Koonwarra Café.
  • Meeniyan: 100m north of the shops off the Nerrena - Meeniyan Rd.
  • Buffalo: Picnic area on Neals Rd
  • Stony Creek: opposite the Stony Creek general store.
  • Fish Creek: picnic area on Falls Rd, next to the petrol station.
  • Foster: 1.5 km south of the town centre on Station Rd.
  • Toora:  Toora Jetty Rd, Toora.
  • Welshpool: Memorial Hall Reserve, South Gippsland Hwy, Welshpool
  • Port Welshpool: Port Welshpool Foreshore Reserve, Lewis St, Port Welshpool
  • Yarram: adjacent to the site of old railway station
  • Port Albert: adjacent to Port Albert Jetty

There are toilets at all towns listed in the Access Points noted below.

Leongatha – Meeniyan (16km)

  • From Leongatha to Koonwarra the trail descends gently to the wide-open dairy farming country for which this area is renowned. Give way to dairy cattle crossing the trail!
  • Near Koonwarra the trail enters tea tree and eucalypt bushland, including seasonal and permanent wetlands.
  • At Koonwarra, an underpass goes under the highway before entering one of the most scenic sections around the Black Spur with its two historic bridges.
  • Check out the even longer old timber railway bridge alongside the new bridge over the Tarwin River near Meeniyan.

Leongatha is a major regional centre with all facilities.

Koonwarra has a visitor orientated general store and bakery; ideal location for intermediate break.

Meeniyan is a small town but has quite a few facilities for visitors including accommodation, shops, gallery and many dining options.

Meeniyan – Hoddle Range - Foster (32km)

Here the railway began a long diversion south to Fish Creek in order to avoid the highest part of the Hoddle Ranges.

  • The trail passes through lowland forest.
  • From Stony Creek to Buffalo the trail is undulating. Just over 2km from Stony Creek on the left are the remains of a rail motor stopping place used for local passengers and small freight. Grey kangaroos, wallabies and many bird species are a common sight here.
  • There is a functioning weighbridge at Buffalo railway station that will form the nucleus for a museum in the future

The trail then enters the foothills of the Hoddle Range. There are a number of cuttings and embankments providing changing views.

  • At Fish Creek the former freight sidings are now a parking area but the station platform remains. Note the fish-shaped tables in the picnic shelter.

  • From Fish Creek the trail climbs for 6km to Hoddle Summit, named after Victoria’s first Surveyor-General, Robert Hoddle. It crosses the summit at an elevation of 140m just past Lowrys Road.
  • Descending from the hills, there are spectacular views of Corner Inlet, the Strzelecki Range to the north and the mountains of Wilsons Promontory to the south east.
  • There is only a platform at Foster station site but plans to make it a feature of the community. Follow Station Rd for 1km to reach the town centre.

Stony Creek has a café just off the trail.

The artistic village of Fish Creek has an old butter factory, book and antique stores, the Promontory Hotel and plenty of places to eat.

Foster is a larger town and has quite a few facilities for visitors

Foster - Toora - Welshpool  (19km)

The trail from here here is flat and relatively straight. Lush dairy farm country interspersed with gum trees around watercourses.

  • The biggest feature of this section is the wind turbines on the hill behind Toora.
  • The Toora station precinct is also a feature with a park and skate ramp.

Toora has a supermarket, swimming pool, caravan park, motel, hotel, cafes and restaurants.

Welshpool is a small town with limited facilities.

Welshpool to Port Welshpool (5km) - connecting trail

From Welshpool, there is a connecting trail to the coast, the Welshpool-Port Welshpool Pathway. It is initially an offroad bike path, then joins a quiet unsealed road which follows the alignment of the former Port Welshpool Tramway. It is just over 5 kilometres to the fishing town of Port Welshpool.

Enjoy views of Corner Inlet, Snake Island and the norther section of Wilsons Promontory National Park.

In 2016, this path will be upgraded to a rail trail.

For more information on this trail see the book Rail Trails of Victoria and South Australia.

Alberton to Yarram: "The Tarra Trail" (7km)

Another short section of trail has been developed between Yarram and Alberton. The old railway line once went from Foster to Alberton and then split, reaching Yarram and Port Albert.

  • The 7km from Yarram to Alberton follows the old railway alignment for 6.5km. This is signposted as the Tarra Trail.
  • The trail starts as a bike path on the west side of the main road through Alberton, and ends just north of the Yarram Station building.
  • It is also possible to ride via either of two roads to Port Albert, the original gateway to the Goldfields. Many historic buildings remain.
  • Welshpool: Memorial Hall Reserve, South Gippsland Hwy, Welshpool

  • Port Welshpool: Port Welshpool Foreshore Reserve, Lewis St, Port Welshpool

  • Yarram: adjacent to the site of old railway station

  • Port Albert: adjacent to Port Albert Jetty

Background Information

The Great Southern Railway took five years to build and opened in 1892.  It initially joined Dandenong to Port Albert, and was later extended to Yarram and Woodside; there were also branch-lines to Outtrim and Wonthaggi.

The last  ran to Yarram in 1987 and the last train beyond Leongatha ran in 1992. The line from Cranbourne to Leongatha was closed in 1993.  Unfortuntely while several governments looked at reopening the VLine passenger service to Leongatha this did not happened and in 2012 several kilometres or rail were removed at Koo Wee Rup and a short rail trail constructed there.

The first section of the rail trail between Leongatha and Koonwarra opened in 1998 and was gradually extended to Foster.  Following the expiration of a 10 year moratorium the rail trail was extended from Foster to Toora, and then on to Welshpool by 2014.

In 2016, the Victorian Government and the South Gippsland Shire Council completed a $1.8m project to "bridge the gap" between Koonwarra and Meeniyan. This picturesque section contains three long timber bridges.


The Great Southern Rail Trail is managed by a CoM of managment of volunteers with great support from the South Gippsland Shire Council.

Support Services and Attractions

Meeniyan Motel & Bicycle Hire - Accommodation and bike hire

Moos - Restaurant and cafe located in the picturesque township of Meeniyan


Many people ask about accommodation on Gippsland rail trails because they are so long and often demand multi-day travelling. Unfortunately maintaining lists of accommodation near rail trails is beyond the scope of the volunteer capacity of Rail Trails Australia. There are many other resources available for finding accommodation of all kinds in all places. When searching, simply use keywords including the towns through which your chosen rail trail passes, and you should find plenty of options.

March 2016

To advertise your rail trail support business on this page, please click here.

Contact Us About This Trail

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28 September , 2016 by wmdavies

An exceptionally good trail: well-maintained and with sufficient things of interest en route. My 15-year old son and I did The Bass Coast and Grand Ridge Trails recently so we wanted to complete the trifecta (I am a 56-year old moderately fit man). We did 65 km from Leongatha to Toora in the best part of a day starting off at around 10am, and at no great haste. The trail was a gentle camber all the way with a wonderful downhill run just before Toora. Lunch was at Fish Creek. We could have gone further to Welshpool but for the necessity of a car shuffle and the impending storm clouds. There were echindas en route, rosellas and (sadly) lots of rabbits! The fading rural architecture was a delight in places like Toora. The Toora pub--the oldest in Gippsland apparently--was closed and boarded up or I would have finished the trip with a beer. We also marvelled at the bridges, at least 5-6 en route, some very long, which were well-restored from old trestle bridges that the trains used. I take my hat off to the volunteers that have such a good job with this trail. We will be back to finish the Toora-Port Albert leg in the near future.

05 March , 2016 by Robert J

The section between Koonwarra and Meeniyan is now complete and open negating the need to travel through the black spur on the highway. It's very scenic with a long paved section joining the bridges. It's well worth the ride.

23 October , 2015 by Gary

Completed the entire length of this trail and have only positive comments to add. A really great ride on a fantastic smooth surface. Starting at Leongatha after an early start from near Lara and battling the traffic through the suburbs. Plenty of history remaining at the station area and Gangers from the SGR were very friendly. A lot of pollen blowing around and a remarkable amount of fruit trees along the section to Black Spur. Beautiful farm land and very healthy looking dairy and beef cattle line the trail. A little history remaining at Meeniyan Station with photo's. While riding, you can play "dodge the poo", but be careful as when you pass the horse poo the flies and insects rise to eye and face height. The surface may need regular clearing as done on the Grand Ridge Rail Trail. Between Meeniyan and Fish Creek there are many very large wombat holes, and rabbits don't seem to be afraid. At Fish Creek, the station has been turned into a Community Garden, and the area kept clean and tidy. A big climb out of Fish Creek up to Hoddle and a good place for a rest. Down the grade all the way into Foster through rain forest type country. Good views of the Prom from this section. Tall ferns, creepers and vines line the trail. Several crossings have self closing spring gates, a bonus and great idea to those installing these. Work underway at Foster to return the station building to a standard. Flat and generally straight to Toora but could be subject to strong winds at times. Good views of the Toora wind farm along this section. Call into the Royal Standard Hotel at Toora for a coffee. The section to Welshpool is open but remnants of the Tramways to Barry's Beach and Port Welshpool can be found. I also completed the Tarra trail from Alberton to Yarram while in the area. A short ride but really needs to be connected to the rest of the trail. Some areas require some minor works. Overall this is a great trail with a massive amount to see along the way. All people were found friendly and appreciate visitors to their towns. I suggest the connection to Port Albert, Port Welshpool, Port Franklin and Barry's Beach along their tramways. This would create additional riding and history of the areas concerned. The trail will be one great adventure upon completion of the three bridges at Black Spur. The surface is suitable for all bike types. As I said, I am very happy with completing this trail and if possible will return to do it again. Great effort for a 60 plus gent. Well done to the committee.

14 September , 2015 by pageal

YHA Cycling had a group of 8 ride the trail with panniers to overnight at the caravan park in Port Welshpool, which was affordable and tidy. It was about 70km on RT and 5km on a quiet road into Port Welshpool. A well designed and maintained rail trail, with some beautiful views and charming cafes en route. Cafe stops included Meeniyan, Fish Creek, Foster and Toora. Toora's was 2 blocks up the main street on the east side, and run by a possibly German chap who did a great cooked breakfast and it smelt like a lovely bakery as soon as you walked in; on a Sunday. Buffalo's general store is doing coffee, but we didn't make that one. Excellent provision of toilet blocks to a high standard all along the route. Second week of Spring, so blossom trees in bloom and new growth, with the fields an unbelievable lush green. Farm dams full and water in the creeks. Trail surface was basically dry and good to ride, although a week earlier some mud was getting flicked up I was told. The 3 bridge reconstruction east of Koonwarra is a work in progress and one still needs to take the road for 3km, which wasn't a problem for our group. Detour signage was patchy, and we backtracked 1km on the way east. My guess is that this will easily be another 9-12mo to completion. The eagle, heron and ibis birdlife was a highlight; with the wombats and roos escaping notice, although I got a snap of roo footprints and saw 3 wombat holes on track edge. Crossing the 140m alt high point going east becomes worthwhile when the view of Corner Inlet opens up. Just east of Foster, a roughly 300-400m stretch of tree and shrub planting had gone in next to the trail, showing thoughtfulness and ongoing commitment. Overall, the Great Southern RT is a world class ride.

23 April , 2015 by Yarmy

Four of us rode the trail last weekend (while Melbourne was taking cover from storms) from Leongatha to Welshpool & back, (we stayed overnight at the Welshpool Pub - great food too !) and also down to Port Welshpool for a look. We were fortunate and did not have a drop of rain while riding (it fell overnight luckily). Track was in great condition, even with a lot of rain overnight was still easy to ride. What a great track it is too, in great condition, and we were really impressed with the range of scenery & variations as we travelled along. We met a few other cyclists & pedestrians walking dogs, and without exception they all smiled & said hello. Didnt see much in the way of wildlife, other than a couple of immense wombat holes in the side of some of the cuttings. Cafe's at Koonwarra & Foster were very good too, great breakfasts/coffee. The short road section as already commented on, is a bit hairy, as cars/trucks are doing 100k, and in places there are no shoulders. Once this section is completed, I would give it 5 stars.

08 April , 2015 by Philflem

We rode from Foster to Welshpool today, lovely ride, very flat surface and very little gradient, great views. We will look forward to seeing the bush regenerating, as we came across workers spraying all the weeds. Well done South Gippsland people for getting so far with this trail. We thoroughly recommend this ride! Also lovely park areas in all towns with clean facilities!

20 March , 2015 by davnrob

Rode Foster to Fish Creek and it was fantastic. Fish Creek was a real surprise with lots of old buildings in a real historic town.

09 March , 2015 by cascho

I rode this trail on Saturday 7th March 2015, between Koonwarra and Toora. This is an impressive trail – the quality is good, though a bit sandy, which means in places through the Hoddle range the track has been cut up with tire tracks left from cyclists during wet conditions. This can cause problems if you are on thin tyres. Also watch out for the mud pit outside of Foster on the way to Toora – where the cows cross – you just have to go through it, there is no going around. The best part of track is the Hoddle Range and the views over to Wilsons Prom. Surprised at how friendly all of the trail users are – by far the friendliest I have come across – The Great Southern is certainly more than just a stroll in the park. Looking forward to Black Spur creek section opening.

05 January , 2015 by wow01

Rode the section from Toora to Fish Creek on 2 Jan 2015. The trail is in excellent condition, with great views towards Wilsons Promontory from the section between Foster and Hoddle station site. We saw a good number of other cyclists on the trail, and the townships of Toora, Foster and Fish Creek are all great tourist spots. Also we checked out some of the new section from Toora to Welshpool, which will open later in 2015. All bridges are in place, still some fencing, bride rails and earthworks to complete.

18 May , 2014 by parvier

Awesome ride. Did the full length from Leongatha to Toora. Will look forward to seeing more work on this trail and the extension on to Welshpool. Horrible on road section near Koonwarra made worse by bogan road users using their horns as they come up behind cyclists. Seems bizarre to say the old bridges are too dangerous to be used and then redirect walkers/cyclists onto the narrow highway and risk death and serious injury from speeding traffic. You can walk your bike across the old bridges with care. It doesn't need mega expensive new bridges to make this more useable for walkers and cyclists. Great little towns and cafes along the way. Full marks to those businesses that go out of their way to be cycle friendly. We happened to be in Fish Creek for the Tea Cosy festival! Love that town! New section to Toora is a lovely smooth ride - only complaint is the gate arrangement at the frequent road crossings. The chicanes are hard to negotiate unless you dismount. Would be impossible on a horse. A little more thought as to the ease of use of these barriers would be good - and do we really need the full barrier thing at every minor road and farm track?

17 March , 2014 by stanford67

Rodes trail early march between Koonwarra (east of Highway section) and Toora. Trail was well maintained. Has a number of long steady climbs between Buffalo and Foster, but well worth the effort. Trail from Foster to Toora flat and easy going. Saw lots of animal life on this section including roos, domestic dogs, a few foxes, and some birds of prey. The bridges across the Tarwin River were interesting. A great trail.

05 November , 2013 by Ridgefield

Completed the rail trail from Leongatha to Toora with my teenage son over two days of the Melbourne Cup long weekend. Left the car at Toora and got the VLine back to Leongatha. The best leg was between Fish Creek and Foster. The worst was the highway section south of Koonwarra. Too dangerous and I would not do it again. Hope this missing 3km is completed soon. Overall a really great trail. No problems finding the start at Leongatha. The park is diagonally opposite the friendly BP service station at that end of town. Comfortable night at Meeniyan Motel with a good dinner at Meeniyan Hotel next door. Welcome stop at Fish Creek Roadhouse. At Foster, ignore the trail sign at the Station Road crossing which says the trail ends in 1km. It now goes to Toora. Also just beyond Station Road we saw a sign pointing to a siding trail to Foster that looked more interesting than a cycle along Station Road, but we didn't check it out.

09 February , 2012 by hscott

Meeniyan CWA Branch is holding a "Breakfast on the Bridge" to celebrate the Australian Year of the Farmer on Saturday 25/02/12 on the Rail Trail bridge over the Tarwin River, 2 km north-west of Meeniyan, on the South Gippsland Highway, from 8.00am to 1.00pm. $5 for breakfast/brunch, all welcome.

24 January , 2012 by Davicat

It's a spectacular trail well worth the ride. However the rail trail leaflet did not give any indication where to start. The beginning is hard to find. People need to know that the Horticulture park is tiny, hidden away in a little gully. The only blue sign I saw for the trail pointed to behind the tyre business but this requires lifting your bike (ours were fully loaded for a two day ride) over the concrete curbing at the end of the business' car park. A terrific trail and it will be even better when the trestle bridge opens, at the moment there are 3kms on the highway which is a bit hairy.

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Great Southern Rail Trail "Bridges" the Gap (Gippsland, Victoria)

(Posted: 06/03/16)

The Black Spur bridges were opened on Friday making one great rail trail.


Great Southern Rail Trail to "bridge" the gap (Gippsland)

(Posted: 19/10/14)

The Victorian Government and South Gippsland Shire Council have announced funding to contruct the missing section of the Great Southern Rail Trail between Koonwarra and Meeniyan.


Great Southern Rail Trail (VIC) - Marketing and Promotion Plan & Community Forums

(Posted: 05/06/14)

The Great Southern Rail Trail Committee and Council are seeking community input into the Marketing and Promotion Plan for the Great Southern Rail Trail (GSRT).


Great Southern Rail Trail Power Supply Work (VIC)

(Posted: 19/01/14)

Power Line works on the Great Southern Rail Trail - Jan 23.


Great Southern Rail Trail Extension to Toora is Now Open (VIC)

(Posted: 01/09/13)

The Great Southern Rail Trail in Gippsland Victoria has extended from Foster to Toora.


$2m extension for Great Southern Rail Trail (Vic)

(Posted: 04/04/12)

Victorian Government gives nod to Great Southern extension More...

Great Southern Rail Trail (Vic) Bridge Opening Celebrations

(Posted: 10/06/08)

A reminder that the official opening of the Pumphouse Bridge over the Tarwin River is occurring this Friday with further celebrations over the weekend.


Tarwin River Bridge Open on the Great Southern Rail Trail (Victoria)

(Posted: 31/03/08)

The major new pedestrian bridge over the Tarwin River is now open.


Great Southern Rail Trail (Gippsland, Victoria) Heritage Day

(Posted: 03/01/07)

On Sunday 14th January 2007 the South Gippsland Tourist Railway is having a special day in conjunction with the Great Southern Rail Trail. More...

Great Southern Rail Trail (Victoria) seeks loans for bridge

(Posted: 19/12/05)

The Committee of Management is seeking contributions from individuals to help complete an important bridge across the Tarwin River on their rail trail in Gippsland, Victoria. More...

Great Southern Rail Trail (Gippsland, Victoria) Bike & Walk Family Day

(Posted: 03/11/05)

Enjoy a Bike & Walk Family Day on Sunday, November 13th along the Great Southern Rail Trail. More...

Great Southern Rail Trail Weekend

(Posted: 25/11/04)

The Friends of the Great Southern Rail Trail had a very successful weekend on 13/14 November. More...

The Great Southern Rail Trail Discovery Weekend

(Posted: 04/11/04)

Special events over weekend of 13th and 14th November 2004. More...

Great Southern Rail Trail Open (Vic)

(Posted: 28/01/04)

The Great Southern Rail Trail is now officially open through to Foster. More...

Grant for Great Southern Rail Trail (Vic)

(Posted: 11/01/02)

The Minister for Environment and Conservation, Hon. Cheryl Garbutt, announced that the Bracks Government have allocated $600,000 funding over two years for construction works. More...

Victorian Trail Developments

(Posted: 14/08/01)

There have been developments a number of trails around Victoria.


Great Southern Rail Trail (Vic)

(Posted: 04/07/01)

The Great Southern Rail Trail have a new information brochure. More...

Great Southern Rail Trail (Vic)

(Posted: 15/02/01)

A new 3.5 km section of the trail is now open from Meeniyan to Stony Creek and work has started on a further 22 km. A survey of the trail has been conducted. More...

Railtrails at the Melbourne Bicycle Show

(Posted: 01/11/00)

iltrails were well represented at the bike show in Melbourne on Sunday 15 October. More...

October Events (Victoria)

(Posted: 25/09/00)

October is packed with railtrail events in Victoria - two trail rides and a bike show. More...

Great Southern Rail Trail Update (Victoria)

(Posted: 25/09/00)

The next section of The Great Southern Rail Trail between Meeniyan and Stony Creek should be completed in the next 6-8 weeks, weather permitting. More...

Gippsland Railtrails News

(Posted: 17/06/00)

Work continues on the next section of the East Gippsland Rail Trail. Reports from Gippsland Plains, Great Southern and Walhalla Goldfields railtrails. Plans for an Gippsland Rail Trail newsletter. More...

Victorian News Roundup

(Posted: 01/11/99)

Updates on the Murray to Mountains, Moe to Yallourn, Great Southern and Bonnie Doon railtrails. More...