dst. (km)
Today 38.5
Trip 87.1

I think we’re in the groove today; breakfast in bed, then get up, pack up, second breakfast at the bakery in town and a quick look around, then off down the rail trail for today’s ride – shorter than anticipated due to a minor misreading of distances .

First breakfast was left-over pizza from the pub last night, second breakfast was pastries and coffee while sitting in the sun at Ando’s bakery.

Cafe breakfast at Foster on the Great Southern Rail Trail

Reading up on local history and the Lassiter of Lassiter’s Reef, we met a busload of elderly visitors from Maffra in the Foster park, including one gentleman who’d ridden on a tandem across the Nullabor as a fund-raiser 50 years ago – with the Sale hospital’s Linen truck “borrowed” to provide support. Would have loved to spend more time with him hearing about his travels, I guess in the 1970s or so.

Back out of town to the rail trail, turn left and off across the farmlands towards Toora.

The Royal Standard Hotel at Toora on the Great Southern Rail Trail
Map of Gippsland in the park at Toora

Morning tea and a lazy time lying around in the park in Toora coincided with a striking example of just how pervasive and seamless technology is… or can be. Jo and Cam were lying in the park, she was looking at her phone, I took a photo of her and posted it to Instagram, she saw it and commented on it, all without looking up. In seconds that photo had gone from my phone in Gippsland through the phone network to a datacentre in the US, been processed and published, displayed back to her and the first she knew was seeing it online.

Cam and Jo relaxing in the park at Toora on the Great Southern Rail Trail

Toora to Welshpool is a very straight section of track, here we are just out of Toora, it continues like that almost the entire way, the only turns needed are to navigate farm gates and road crossings.

Long straight section of the Great Southern Rail Trail from Toora to Welshpool

Lunch in Welshpool, a very minor detour as the shops are on the highway, parallel to the rail line and a block to the north. Salad rolls and cold drinks, then time for the rest of today’s ride. The trail curves south for the last 5km stretch through coastal scrub and has a different surface here than the rest. Midway between Welshpool and Port Welshpool a route marker tells you 2.5km from the last point, 2.5km the next, answering our question as to whether they’d do that or have signs 2km from each town, but only 1km apart on this bit!

The last few hundred metres are down quiet streets of Port Welshpool, past the maritime museum that’s only open on Saturday afternoons, and ending at the foreshore park.

Two or three jettys at Port Welshpool, an old timber one a few people fishing, another surrounded by half a dozen commercial fishing boats, and “the long jetty” – recently resurfaced, revamped and re-opened – the main tourist attraction of the town, other than the Maritime museum. The long jetty is very long, and could do with some signs telling people about it. There’s a diving bell sitting by a shed three quarters of the way out, presumably from the 1980s Bass Straight oil exploration, but again, not much information on what it was used for or why it’s there.

Fishing boat on the jetty at Port Welshpool, end of the Great Southern Rail Trail
Port Welshpool's "Long Jetty"

Port Welshpool looks to be almost deserted, a large proportion of houses and properties have “For Sale” signs on them. There’s one shop, and one pub – “about 700m up the road” according to the caravan park manager – but just over double that I discovered, a round trip from caravan park to pub and back being 2.8km! I rode up to the pub at 3.45pm on a Friday afternoon to find it was shut, a paper sign on the door saying “Opening 4pm today” but no sign of anyone starting to get it ready, no cars parked in the car park. I grabbed a bottle of milk and some snacks from the shop and we lazed away the rest of the afternoon.

Before dinner we went out for a walk and a hunt for a local geocache – GC 2VPYV – and for once I managed to find it before the eagle eyes and sneaky mind of number one son got in ahead of me. Along the way a “shortcut” through waist-high prickly grass at the edge of the mangroves made for many complaints and a lot of tentative stepping down into unseen territory.

Dinner time, so out came the lights and back on the bike to ride up to the pub for dinner, when we got there there were four other tables of people eating, nobody in the public bar, and no beer available on tap until next Thursday … bottles only. Seems they can’t be making much money at this time of year, at least the food was excellent, all made in house and with seafood a priority. I’d almost be tempted to put my own signs up along the rail trail to drag more people down there for a feed!




Relive ‘GSRT day 2: Foster to Port Welshpool’