Meanwhile, Enough About Me

Some trail details for you. Orbost to Waygara.

The East Gippsland Rail Trail (EGRT) is a former section of railway which served farming, grazing and forestry, as well as general commerce and passengers, in Victoria’s east from 1916 to 1987. In 1993, local authorities and the community began turning it into a recreational trail as mountain biking boomed, but it’s mostly well made enough even for a reasonably sturdy gravel bike and certainly worth riding if you’re a velo-cross nut. Shred, baby, shred!

Orbost Viaduct, by Steve Bennett (stevage) - Own work, CC BY 3.0. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32629454

So, I’m walking it in late March, early April 2023 or 2024, depending on whether I can manage my training to a satisfactory standard to walk 100km in 3 and a half days. While, according to wikipedia, it’s “…a popular cycling route,” many walk it, usually in stages, over time. I want to make an adventurous (foolhardy?) long weekender of it.

My first day is the easy one, Orbost to the old Waygara sawmill site. A meagre 15km. See my post from a day or two ago, I’ve proven I can do this bit.

I’ll be catching the train to Bairnsdale, a little after 7am on the first day, changing to coach for the leg to Orbost, arriving a little after 1pm. From Orbost, after a spot of lunch, I’ll begin the trail, walking westerly the 3 hours or so into Waygara. Orbost is actually 2km east of the EGRT trailhead, so the nominal 15km is actually 17.

This section of the trail begins shortly after crossing Australia’s famous Snowy River. Further upstream, way further, in the mountains is the Snow River Hydro Electric scheme, still one of Australia’s largest single infrastructure projects in history. It provided work for thousands of Australians, New Zealanders and post WWII refugees. Old timers (who weren’t even born then, like me) still speak of the project with reverence and hushed tones, like it’s Australia’s answer to the Hoover Dam. (Better trade union tolerance than the latter, though. The worker, united, can never be defeated… except by Labor Party class traitors and “economic rationalism,” sadly.)

The official trailhead is at Newmerella, a small town west of Orbost, and from here, we’re following literal rail reserve for most of the rest of the journey. This section closely follows the Princes Highway, the major road that goes nearly all the way up the east coast of Australia, after its easterly traverse of the state of Victoria. One of the reasons I’ll be doing the walk into Waygara on the first day, is to get to a point with a bit of distance from the road, where I can hopefully get a good night’s sleep.

From Newmerella, the trail passes through biodiverse forests and crosses Simpsons Creek, before arriving at the old Waygara sawmill site, also the site of the old railway station, where I’ll be arriving about 4:30 or 5pm, to pitch camp, warm up dinner and sleep. The weekend this trip is planned for will either be the end of daylight saving (Australian Eastern Summer Time) or the week after, so Waygara really is the limit before nightfall on this first day.

Next week, I’ll post the proposed day 2 trek details, Waygara to Nowa Nowa.

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