trail dreaming: along high country and tumbarumba – rosewood trails

10 September , 2023

CMRT members are getting frisky about the growth of rail trails around the country – for fun and local inspiration. The Tumbarumba to Rosewood trail, in the NSW Riverina, opened in 2020 and is the first of its kind in NSW. The High Country trail, between Wodonga and Shelley, is more established: it added its most recent extension in 2016. Both point the way for a Castlemaine to Maryborough rail trail.

CMRT member Ken Stewart and his partner Jennie rode the Victorian High Country and the Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trails in March. Greg James talks to Ken about the highlights.

How would you compare the two trails?
Both trails offer terrific riding experiences, with excellent surface conditions and accessibility.  It is well worth travelling the extra distance into NSW for the scenic Tumbarumba–Rosewood ride. Both trails are a credit to the persistence and dedication of local rail trail enthusiasts and their communities, each offering outstanding encouragement for our Castlemaine-Maryborough Rail Trail.

What were some of the highlights of the Tumbarumba-Rosewood trail?
It was a lovely gentle ride with good coffee and conversation with the locals at the Rosewood General Store. Of special note were the interpretive signs along the way, with insightful anecdotes and artefacts relating to the building and maintenance of the original railway. The local historical societies had major input into the trail and their sometimes quirky selection of information on display really enriched the experience.

How did the High Country trail compare?
Our previous stay in July ‘22 was at the Tallangatta pub, which offers good basic accommodation and excellent meals. On that occasion the short winter days (and below zero temperatures!) curtailed our attempt to ride uphill to the eastern end of the trail, an old settlement called Shelley. We turned back at Koetong, 11 km short of the finish, in order to arrive back at Tallangatta before the sun dipped below the hills. 

Can you tell us about the scenic ride to Shelley?
We made it all the way to Shelley, a steady uphill 40 km slog through gorgeous mostly pastoral scenery, stopping to open and shut the many farm gates along the way. We found several enormous fig trees en route which were in full fruit! The huge wooden trestle bridges, all now impassable, were a feature of the ride. Interesting historical signage again enriched the journey, along with several sculptures made by local artists. 

What about the bridges and wetlands?
The High Country Rail Trail extends 80 kms from Wodonga to Shelley and we undertook a ride westward from Tallangata towards Wodonga the following day. The magnificent Sandy Creek bridge across the Hume Weir is a work of art in its own right. It was interesting to ride past the Bonegilla migrant camp and then on to the Kiewa River flats. The duckboards over these wetlands provide great viewing access to wildlife habitat. 

Ken is an active CMRT committee member and Jennie is our key volunteer keeping contact with the Mt Alexander Shire Council. When they’re not working, out riding or volunteering, Ken and Jennie are out tending to their beautiful garden in Chewton.