Cycle Victoria, Road Ride, Skipton Rail Trail Ride
The Skipton Rail Trail offers so much varied scenery on a broad well-constructed trail. Starting at the Wendouree train station in Ballarat near Lake Wendouree, the ride heads out through the farming communities of Haddon, Smythes Creek and Scarsdale. There are remnants of early gold mining all through this section. From here the trail heads into splendidly rugged bushland, after crossing the impressive Nimmins Bridge. The trail emerges into historic Linton and onto Skipton. Both towns have accommodation and a night’s stay offers a great country experience.
The trail has a broad well-compacted surface. The gradient is never steep and although the stretch from Linton is up hill for a bit, the majority of the ride is down hill.
There are a few major road crossings along the route and care should be taken at these, particularly if there are bends or crests on the roads.
There are V/Line trains to Wendouree to and from Southern Cross everyday . Ballarat is 113 kilometres from Melbourne on the Western Highway via the West Gate. Pass through Ballarat CBD, past the hospital and Victoria Park, turning right at Gillies Street. Turn left at Learmonth Road and then left into the station entrance. VicRoads Map:565 R3.
Food and Drink
Stock up in Ballarat and replenish in Smythesdale, Scarsdale, Linton or Skipton. There are water tanks at some points along the route.
There is Lake Wendouree or head off for a side trip at Smythesdale. Otherwise if you have a map there is great riding all around this area.
The start of the ride commences at the Wendouree Railway Station; one of the few “out of town” rides are accessible by public transport. The station is near Lake Wendouree, the recreational heart of Ballarat and worth a visit.
The beginning is pretty non-descript as it passes behind housing and industrial estates, but it is not long before it emerges at the Ring Road and a view out across the countryside to Mt. Buangor in the distance. The rail branch-line to Skipton, closed in 1986 after nearly 100 years, starts here and heads southwest, often sheltered by a line of trees across farmland to Haddon and Smythesdale. You will see mullock heaps from gold mining all through this area as well as hobby farms with many and varied animals. It is not far to Scarsdale and then the impressive Nimmins Bridge, a fine example of early railway bridge engineering.
Straight over the bridge the trail heads into bushland that although a bit scrubby, creates a very serene canopy over the trail. In winter this provides some protection from the elements; in spring dappled sunlight over the wild flowers; summer shade from the sun and in autumn, the setting for assorted bush fungi. There is further evidence of history as you pass beneath the remnants of an old logging rail bridge before you come to Linton. Nestled in the hills the old houses are spread out indicating that once upon a time Linton was a much bigger concern. Ride up the main street to get a feel for the place.
After Linton the trail heads up for a few kilometres and emerges onto rolling farmland heading down to the finish at Skipton. The end of the trail is a bit of an anti-climax, but follow the signs into town and put up your feet outside the general store or the pub. During summer there is a shuttle bus service between Ballarat and Skipton. Bookings must be made and the service will not run if less than 12 tickets are sold. Phone Ballarat Coachlines 5335 5300 for bookings and further information.
57.723 km / 35.867 mi
345 m / 1,132 ft
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468 m / 1,536 ft