Yarck to Bonnie Doon Rail Trail

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesYarck
FinishBonnie Doon
Suitable ForWalk/Run Cycling/MTB Horse 
Distance33.69 km
Average Speed6.06 km/hr
Travel Time5 hrs 33 mins
Page Updated: 2 Sep 2020


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 the section from Yarck to Bonnie Doon on the northern arm of Lake Eildon, a distance of 33.7km.

This part of the trek passes through hilly farmland with some long hills around Merton Gap (3km south of Merton) for bike riders. The trail between Merton and Bonnie Doon more or less follows the gentle grades alongside Merton Creek.

After completing this trek you can continue on to the section Bonnie Doon to Mansfield.

How to Use this Trek Note

  • To download this information and the route file for offline use on a phone, tablet, headunit or laptop, go to the app store and purchase ExplorOz Traveller. This app enables offline navigation and mapping and will show where you are as you travel along the route. For more info see the ExplorOz Traveller webpage and the EOTopo webpage.


ExplorOz Traveller now features the NEW EOTopo 2024 mapset!


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 which is the route of this Trek.

The first stage from Tallarook to Yea was opened in 1883 being extended in stages through various small townships and reached Mansfield in 1891 some 117km from the junction. The line was quite scenic and included a 200m tunnel near Cheviot and a viaduct over an arm of the Lake Eildon reservoir in Bonnie Doon. Bonnie Doon township was established subsequent to gold discoveries in the area. It was originally named Doon after the town of that name in Ireland. The Post Office opened in October 1866 and was renamed Bonnie Doon in 1891 coinciding with the arrival of the railway.

Much of the original town of Bonnie Doon was flooded by the construction of Lake Eildon in the 1950s. The township was relocated; some buildings were picked up and moved, whilst others were able to remain in their original site, such as the churches.

The line provided access for agricultural products from the region to the Melbourne markets but was closed and dismantled in 1978.

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: 13418



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 18.7km SE
Mean Max. °C27.326.822.918.
Mean Min. °C13.413.811.
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


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Yarck to Kanumbra
Cycling: 7.02 km
Heading: 40°
Avg Speed: 6.05 km/hr
EST Time: 01:09:37
  • Head northeast on Maroondah Highway (B300) for: 0.04 km time: 00:13
  • Turn right onto Wrights Road for: 0.1 km time: 00:37
  • Turn left onto Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 6.88 km time: 01:08:49
Kanumbra to Track Marker 1
Cycling: 2.53 km
Heading: 64°
Avg Speed: 6 km/hr
EST Time: 25:18
  • Head northeast on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 2.53 km time: 25:18
Track Marker 1 to Track Marker 2
Cycling: 0.13 km
Heading: 76°
Avg Speed: 6.01 km/hr
EST Time: 01:17
  • Head northeast on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 0.13 km time: 01:19
Track Marker 2 to McGuigans Rd & Rail Trail (Mayland Lane)
Cycling: 0.92 km
Heading: 42°
Avg Speed: 6 km/hr
EST Time: 09:12
  • Head northeast on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 0.92 km time: 09:10
McGuigans Rd & Rail Trail (Mayland Lane) to Picnic Shelter Merton Gap
Cycling: 2.87 km
Avg Speed: 6 km/hr
EST Time: 28:42
  • Head northeast on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 0 km time: 00:01
  • Continue onto Great Victorian rail trail for: 1.13 km time: 11:17
  • Keep left onto Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 1.74 km time: 17:25
Picnic Shelter Merton Gap to Woodfield Picnic Shelter
Cycling: 14.53 km
Heading: 93°
Avg Speed: 6.09 km/hr
EST Time: 02:23:09
  • Head north on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 0.28 km time: 02:49
  • Make a slight left onto Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 4.34 km time: 43:44
  • Make a sharp left to stay on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 0.03 km time: 00:11
  • Turn right to stay on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 0.95 km time: 09:36
  • Turn right onto Kubeils Road for: 0.05 km time: 00:40
  • Turn left onto Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 8.87 km time: 01:26:06
Woodfield Picnic Shelter to Bonnie Doon
Cycling: 5.69 km
Heading: 102°
Avg Speed: 6.29 km/hr
EST Time: 54:16
  • Head southeast on Great Victorian Rail Trail for: 5.24 km time: 52:21
  • Turn right for: 0.02 km time: 00:08
  • Turn right onto Arnot Street for: 0.19 km time: 00:47
  • Continue left onto Jones Street for: 0.14 km time: 00:36
  • Make a slight left to stay on Jones Street for: 0.05 km time: 00:18
  • Turn sharp right at the end of the road, onto Maroondah Highway (B300) for: 0.05 km time: 00:12
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.

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