With the Heathcote and Tooborac areas in regional Victoria having many interesting points of interest and attractions, why not visit and utilise the O’Keefe Rail Trail and its connected gravel roads that are ‘open all hours for business’!
Here is an interesting rail trail connected ‘Heathcote – Tooborac Gravel Loop’ route, just waiting to be experienced by walkers and gravel bike/MTB riders.
Starting at the O’Keefe Rail Trail’s Herriot St car-park in Heathcote, this gravel route takes in the existing rail trail to Pink Cliffs Rd and then left-right into Valli St to continue along a section of the former railway alignment (part of the proposed Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail), before turning right into Dairy Flat Road.
Heading out of the urban area, the road’s gravel surfaces are in good condition with usually very little motor vehicle traffic. The surrounding forested areas and farmland are quite scenic, with just a couple of challenging hills before reaching Tooborac. If looking for a break upon reaching Tooborac, there is the country style Tooborac Hotel and Brewery as well as the Tooborac Café and Post for coffee and the well-known ‘Tooby Burger’, with both places being options for food and refreshments while resting your legs.
Leaving from Tooborac, the first of a number of quite gravel roads is Majors Line Road that was once an actual railway line for the McIvor Timber and Firewood Co. (1906-1927). Continuing along connected gravel roads through the extensive forested area, the Heathcote-Nagambie Rd is then reached. A left turn sees a stretch of sealed bitumen being experienced before turning right into Forest Drive’s gravel road.
Noting the remains of the old Heathcote Powder Magazine, there comes signs of the urban area of Heathcote appearing from within the forested area. Forest Dr passes by the McIvor Creek’s pedestrian suspension bridge, the ‘Valley of Liquidambers’ and the Queen Meadow Caravan Park before reaching Barrack St. Crossing over Barrack St has the McIvor Creek Trail providing the best way to experience this creek’s natural environment.
For returning to the starting point of this ‘Gravel Road Loop’ experience, there are a number of possible options within the Heathcote urban area via streets and trails, with Chauncey St being a good choice from the McIvor Creek Trail to connect back onto the O’Keefe Rail Trail to the trail head’s car park.
Apart from other local short loop trails based upon Heathcote, this 47km gravel route is a delightful experience, especially on the quite gravel country roads. Having the option of breaking the journey at the half way point in Tooborac, and then enjoying all that’s on offer for which Heathcote is well known for, this attractive riding/walking route is definitely a must do!
This link to Ride With GPS provides map and gradient details, as well as download facilities for FIT and GPX files (‘More’>’Export file’) to enable your smart device to help with navigation.