A much more extensive and so far, better developed, linear park is the Bellarine Rail Trail which extends essentially from Swanston Street in South Geelong (which in turn links via the bike lane to the Barwon), all the way along the old Queenscliff line, through Drysdale to the little seaside town of Queenscliff.
The trail follows the route of the former South Geelong-Queenscliff railway line which was constructed in 1878/1879 primarily to service Fort Queenscliff. The new line enabled the movement of troops and supplies back and forth from Melbourne. The Fort was a key stronghold in the defence of the capital during times of war, being located at the narrow entry point into Port Phillip Bay.
|Steam train at Queenscliff Station|
Almost immediately, the Geelong Steam Preservation Society stepped in and from 1979 ran the line from Queenscliff, initially to Laker's Siding and then to Drysdale as a tourist facility with their base of operations being Queenscliff. The service continues to run to the present day using steam and diesel locomotives to pull the heritage carriages between Queenscliff and Drysdale.
|The Bellarine Rail Trail|
|Engine built by the Vulcan Iron Works|
which worked at the Fyansford cement
works, now at the Bellarine Railway
A year or so ago I also ran the remainder of the trail from Drysdale to South Geelong and then home on one occasion (also in the rain as I remember) and in recent weeks have cycled the trail from the Bellarine Highway to Drysdale and back.
The trail along most of its length is a loose gravel path, however there are sections through the outskirts of Geelong, Leopold, Drysdale and the approach to Queenscliff which are surfaced with bitumen. Up to Drysdale, the trail predominantly runs along the original line of the rails, however beyond Drysdale the path runs beside the railway line, crossing back and forth at various points.
|Hereford cow outside Drysdale|
Along all sections of the trail there are road crossings, however most are small, rural roads posing no real difficulty either riding or running. The two major road crossings I believe now have traffic lights. Despite this, a "training run" which was staged annually in about September running the whole distance of the trail has in recent years been changed to an out-and-back run between Queenscliff and Drysdale; the same distance as
the original run, but without the bragging rights of the former.
Details concerning the Bellarine Rail Trail and the Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail group can be found at the following site: http://www.fbrt.com.au/fbrt/main/home.asp