Cathkin to Alexandra Rail Trail

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesCathkin Station
FinishAlexandra Timber And Tramway Museum
Suitable ForWalk/Run Cycling/MTB Horse 
Distance14.19 km
Average Speed7.66 km/hr
Travel Time1 hr 51 mins
Page Updated: 2 Sep 2020

Description

At 134km, the Great Victorian Rail Trail is Australia's longest rail trail. It follows the route of an old train line from Tallarook on the Hume Highway about 100km north of Melbourne to Mansfield in the Victorian High Country. It is designed for cyclists, walkers and horse riders and due to the route passing through numerous townships, accommodation, food and supplies are readily available along the way.There are numerous rail trails throughout Australia, being shared-use paths recycled from abandoned railway corridors. The numerous access points make it easy to plan day trips, or the journey can be done as a multi-day trip without the need to be fully self-sufficient.For the purpose of providing ease of navigation and planning, we have split the Tallarook to Mansfield route into 6 smaller Treks.

This one covers a branch off the main Trek, from Cathkin to Alexandra, a distance of 15km.

This part of the trek passes through hilly farmland. The Cathkin Station platform still
stands and the Alexandra Timber Tramway and Museum operates at the old Alexandra Station. Coming out of Alexandra you’ll head up to Eglinton Cutting, which can be a challenge. From the top enjoy the stunning view of Cathedral Range.

How to Use this Trek Note

If you'd like to download this Trek there are two options:
  • Purchase our app ExplorOz Traveller. This Australian-made GPS & Navigation app will allow you to download all the ExplorOz Treks to your GPS enabled smartphone/tablet/iPad or laptop and enable active route guidance along the route as per the Directions shown on this page. The app enables offline navigation and mapping and will show where you are as you travel along the route. The app also allows you to edit/customise the route. Viewing the Trek in the Traveller app also includes all the words, images and POIs exactly as on the website (excludes Wildflowers). For more info see the ExplorOz Traveller webpage.

  • Alternatively, if you already have another raster mapping software program you can Download this route in GPX format using the button shown below the map on this page .

TIP

To purchase our maps for offline use, you will need to purchase the EOTopo 2021 map licence. To install the maps you will need the ExplorOz Traveller app.

History

Indigenous History

Scar trees, rock shelters, rock art and place names all indicate that the Taungurung people (Daung wurrung) have been in this part of Victoria for thousands of years. Many Taungurung people still live on their country and participate widely in the community as cultural heritage advisors, land management officers, artists and educationalist.

European History

In 1824 Hamilton Hume and William Hovell were commission to lead an expedition to find new grazing land and attempt to discover where New South Wales's western rivers flowed.

Yea was established in May 1837 as the first service centre for the early squatters and settlers of the district and in the gold rush era of the 1850s it became a stopping place for gold prospectors.

In the 1860 the first section of railway line from Melbourne to the North East reached Essendon and then extended to reach Tallarook in 1872. By 1883 it had been extended further to Wodonga however a junction was built at Tallarook and a branch line built from Tallarook heading east into mountainous territory. This became the Mansfield line. The branch railway line to Alexandra was long in coming. In the 1880s, Alexandra had lobbied long and hard for the line to Mansfield to be routed directly through their town. They were beaten by nature and the engineering realities of the hilly terrain and the steep gradients that surround the township, so that the direct line to Mansfield was built to the north. In September 1890, a short compromise branch line was constructed (7.1km) from Cathkin to Koriella in the direction of Alexandra. In August 1908 work began on the Alexandra Township Railway Extension. This was through rough, steep, 1 in 30 grade country and was costly to construct.

Cathkin had a school (1905-46) and was the point where the spur line to Alexandra joined the railway line from Tallarook to Mansfield. Cathkin was the name of a property and derives from Cathkin Braces, Scotland. Koriella, between Cathkin and Alexandra. is thought to be Aboriginal for Cockatoo, and the place's previous names were Alexandra Road and Rhodes.

Until 1866 Alexandra and the surrounding district was occupied by squatting runs. In June of that year two employees of the Mount Pleasant Run found a quartz reef about two kilometres south-east of the future site of Alexandra. Other gold-bearing locations were discovered soon afterwards, a notable one being along the UT (Ultima Thule) Creek, a tributary of the Goulburn River. There was also a track to other diggings along which supplies were brought, and the track passed through a red gate in the boundary between squatting runs, the boundary more or less following the UT Creek. Red Gate became a small township on UT Creek until named Alexandra in about 1867 after the Princess of Wales or the given name (Alexander) of the discoverers of gold in 1866.

The entire railway line was closed and dismantled in 1978 but after the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the Victorian Government announced a project to utilise the railway corridor to build a 134km cycle trail as an economic stimulus. AU$14Million was spent to repair and build bridges, road crossings, car parking, rest stops and amenities. The Great Victorian Rail Trail was opened in June 2012.

TrekID: 13422

Preparation

Permits

This is a cycle/walking/horse trail only. Motorised vehicles are not permitted.

Best Time To Visit

The Trail is suitable for use all year round. The climate is generally mild by Australian standards, but can be hot in summer and cold in winter, depending on what you're used to. Average summer maximums are about 30C but may rise to low 40's on extreme days. Winter maximums average about 16C, but may be as low a 0C on occasions. Autumn and Spring are ideal seasons for this trek.

Closest Climatic Station

Eildon Fire Tower
Distance from Trek Mid Point 17.74km E
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C27.326.822.918.213.210.19.110.513.516.521.023.5
Mean Min. °C13.413.811.49.16.54.83.84.35.77.29.811.0
Mean Rain mm36.446.939.040.355.067.266.776.763.551.861.242.3
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Map

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Directions

Cathkin Station to Koriella Picnic Shelter
Cycling: 7.17 km
Heading: 94°
Avg Speed: 6.05 km/hr
EST Time: 01:11:06
  • Head northeast on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 7.12 km time: 01:10:53
  • Turn right for: 0.05 km time: 00:13
Koriella Picnic Shelter to Eglington Cutting
Cycling: 2.68 km
Heading: 128°
Avg Speed: 6.02 km/hr
EST Time: 26:42
  • Head northeast for: 0.02 km time: 00:07
  • Turn right onto Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 2.66 km time: 26:37
Eglington Cutting to Car Park
Cycling: 4.25 km
Heading: 120°
Avg Speed: 6 km/hr
EST Time: 42:30
  • Head east on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 4.25 km time: 42:31
Car Park to Alexandra Timber And Tramway Museum
Cycling: 0.09 km
Heading: 119°
Avg Speed: 12.58 km/hr
EST Time: N/A
  • Head southwest on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 0.09 km time: 00:27
Distance is based on the travel mode shown (Driving, Straight, Cycling, Walking etc), Direction is straight line from start to end, Avg Speed & EST Time is calculated from GPS data.

What to See

Alexandra markets 2nd Saturday each month Sept to May at the Tramway Museum.

Facilities

Where to Stay

In addition to those below, Alexandra has a number of hotels, motels and B&Bs

Services & Supplies

Wildflowers

Nearby ExplorOz Treks

Related Travel Journals

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