One rider's mission to tackle every rail trail in Victoria

Lead image: Bass Coast Rail Trail, heading toward Wonthaggi

If a near-fatal crash and the pressures of parenting weren't enough to keep Paul Baker off his bike, then a torn ACL might have done it.

But the former commuter and triathlete has found a new lease on life when it comes to two-wheeled travel, and it involves exploring every inch of Victoria's magnificent rail trails.

Baker has set himself the goal of completing all 43 rail trails in the state in 2023, and with nearly half already ticked off, he has certainly hit the ground running.

"I'm doing this because I love riding," Baker explained. "I'm passionate about cycling, I'm passionate about cycling safety and I'm passionate about getting people on bikes."

Outer Circle Rail Trail, near Mont Albert Road

With kids on the scene and a serious lack of spare time, Baker says he stopped riding around a decade ago. It was only a lapse in Melbourne's recent lockdowns that rekindled his motivation to jump back into the saddle.

"In 2020, between lockdown 1 and 2, I took the kids on the Warby trail on hire bikes and had such a blast," Baker said. "I bought 3 bikes that day."

But it wasn't a matter of just picking up where he left off. To build up his fitness in a steady and sensible way, Baker commandeered an e-bike to help him ease back into the lifestyle.

Great Southern Rail Trail - Korumburra Train Station

To begin with, he was able to cover around 25 km per ride with assistance dialled up to the maximum. Fast-forward around 2.5 years, and he has completed a 90 km-plus ride along the Bellarine Peninsula with minimal assistance, turning it off completely on flats and downhills.

Baker attributes much of his renewed love of riding to the capabilities of the modern e-bike.

"It allows you to keep riding and dialling down the assistance as you progress," he explained.

"There are people that are using them as a bridge to come back to bike riding from minimal or no fitness, or back from a torn ACL. I probably wouldn't have done this without an e-bike. If I had a non-assist bike I would have backed off."

There appears to be no stopping Baker now.

He became inspired to tackle Victoria's rail trails after a friend showed him a guidebook from Rail Trails Australia. After a couple of exploratory rides to test the waters, things began to snowball, with Baker soon publicising his ambitious rail trail challenge on a local Facebook group as a way to keep himself accountable.

With 19 of the 43 trails now ticked off, he has already enjoyed many peaceful hours on rail trails across the state, but describes the Walhalla Goldfields Trail, between Erica and Thomson in Gippsland, as one of his favourites.


"Riding through that untouched mountain ash, hearing all the birds, along with the company of the 3 walkers I chatted with, that to me was a different type of special," he said.

"There is a cutting with tree ferns growing through it and you're just riding though what looks like a tunnel, but it's just tree ferns. I'm just gushing at how awesome it was."

Baker describes himself as an environmentalist at heart and speaks just as enthusiastically about his experiences cruising through coastal ecosystems and of his encounters with echidnas, wombats, koalas and goannas.

While his impressive progress so far might give the impression that Baker is taking a gung-ho approach to this challenge, there is some strategy at play with the hundreds of kilometres he has left to pedal.

Walhalla Goldfield Rail Trail – Descending from Erica through a Tree Fern Tunnel

He says some inland trails are best avoided in the summertime due to the blazing heat, such as the Great Victorian Rail Trail from Tallarook to Mansfield. He says his 43rd and final rail trail will be ticked off in September, if all goes to plan.

Noogee Trestle Bridge Rail Trail

Baker hopes that by taking on this challenge and sharing the journey on social media, he can help spread the word about Victoria's rail trails.

"I want to inspire people and show that its possible from the city to use public transport for the majority of trails, or a car for the more obscure ones," he said.

Baker began the journey by himself but has had others join in his rides along the way. And the enquiries keep on coming.

"These trails are there, there are no ticket stalls that make you pay to get on them,” he said. These regional towns have suffered from disaster and lockdown, so get out there and enjoy."

To follow Baker's travels, you can find him on Strava here, and on Instagram here.

A list of all rail trails in Australia can be found at

All images courtesy of Paul Baker.

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