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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Red Hill to Merricks Trail - Western Sector

The Red Hill to Merricks Trail is 75 km south of Melbourne, and generally follows the alignment of part of the former railway which ran from Red Hill to Bittern.

It is a 7 km route, shared with horseriders and walkers, passing vineyards, with excellent panoramas to Westernport Bay at a view point at the half way point.

The railway opened in 1921 and closed in 1953. Nothing remains of the infrastructure.

The Bittern - Red Hill railway covered a distance of 16 km, and contained some of the steepest gradients in the State of Victoria. The lowest point was 15 m above sea level and the highest point 200 m above sea level. The maximum gradient was 1 in 30. The gauge was 5 feet 3 inches which was standard in the State of Victoria. The final cost was 76,791 pounds.

The line contributed to local development. It took stockfeed and fertiliser into the area and apples, strawberries, stock, timber and firewood were transported out. However, the advent of motor transport led to the line becoming unprofitable. The track is now popular with walkers and horse riders.

The grounds at the Red Hill and Merricks ends are now picnic areas. An information board at the Red Hill end describes the railway and its construction. Map boards are located at each end of the Trail.

I walked the western section between Red Hill and the View Point on December 11, 2007, about 8 km return. I had previously walked the eastern section between Merricks and the View Point.

The photo album of this trip is at Red Hill Trail - there are several historical pictures there of the former railway.

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