From Victoria’s high country to the south coast of Western Australia, these cycling holidays have gentle hills and few cars to contend with
Mon 4 Nov 2019 00.39 GMT
Cycling is a great way to keep fit and active, with less wear and tear on the joints than jogging but all the benefits of a cardio workout and the bonus of exploring the countryside as you pedal.
Of course, it doesn’t always have to be hard work. Rail trails are dedicated cycling and walking paths on abandoned railway lines and are fairly gentle when it comes to uphill climbs – those old locomotives weren’t too good at hauling up steep hills.
Rail trails are also vehicle-free, so you don’t have to worry about contending with high-speed traffic, apart from the occasional road crossing. They might be off-road but they are often sealed, or made with good gravel or compacted earth, so the riding is smooth.
If you really want to keep it easy, e-bikes (with a small battery-powered motor) and pedal-assisted bikes (sometimes called pedalecs, they have a motor that only works while you pedal) mean you can zip up hills without raising a sweat.
1. Gippsland rail trails, Victoria
The Gippsland region has several rail trails along disused railway and tram corridors that wind their way through farmland and forests and across historic trestle bridges. The longest is the East Gippsland rail trail (94m) from Bairnsdale to the Snowy River at Orbost but, for those who fancy a shorter ride, the 25km Gippsland lakes discovery trail follows an old tramline through the Colquhoun state forest. It links the East Gippsland trail to Lakes Entrance and is a good one-day option; it’s mostly flat with just a couple of short, reasonably gentle, climbs. Most of the riding is on compacted gravel and there are several good picnic spots along the way, beside the very pretty Mississippi Creek.
2. Munda Biddi trail, Western Australia
Munda Biddi is Nyoongar for “path through the forest” and this trail is a long-distance mountain-bike (and walking) journey that stretches 1,051km from Mundaring near Perth to Albany on the south coast, through towering jarrah, karri and tingle forests, native bush, across rolling farmlands and along the coast. Almost all of the trail is off-road on a mixture of gravel, dirt and sand tracks, with about a third on old railway formations, making it one of the world’s longest rail trails.
There are numerous entry and exits points accessible by car; if you did the whole thing you’d need three to four weeks. There are purpose-built camping shelters on the trail or you can stay in one of the 15 country towns along the way. Bike hire is also available at towns on the route.
Most riders tackle the trail in three- or four-day sections or on day-trips. The Munda Biddi Trail Foundation has a list of easier sections suitable for beginners and families, and, if you’d prefer to ride in a group, it also runs a series of events .
On the rails: four Australian cycleways built on abandoned train tracks The Guardian
From Victoria’s high country to the south coast of Western Australia, these cycling holidays have gentle hills and few cars to contend with Lee Atkinson Mon 4 Nov 2019 00.39 GMT Cycling is a great way to keep fit and active, with less wear and tear on the joints than jogging but all the benefits… [Read More]