Start point: Queenscliff is about 28km from Geelong along the Bellarine Highway. The walk starts at the train station which is at the end of Hesse Street (the main street you come in to Queenscliff from Geelong). The station is located on the shores of Swan Bay. – Directions
Distance: 16.5km (33km return)
Track: Bitumen and gravel – well maintained
Birds: This trail traverses a diverse range of habitats ranging from mudflats to Moonah scrub and open country. This of course allows for a far wider variety of birds than most rail trails. Near the water possible birds include Little, Cattle and Great Egrets, Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Common Greenshank along with swans and cormorants. Above the water Crested, Whiskered and Caspian Terns may be seen wheeling about.
The patches of dense Moonah scrub are home to lots of small birds such as Little Grassbird, Grey Fantail, New Holland, Singing and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, Grey Shrike-thrush and Willie Wagtails.
Notes: Swan Bay is often overlooked by the crowds because it lacks sandy beaches, but for those interested in birds it offers a variety of opportunities. Before you start it is worth checking out the big trees in the park at the Queenscliff Foreshore Reserve near the pier – two blocks from the station. I have seen big groups of Little Egrets roosting in these trees and if you look closely you may also see roosting Nankeen Night-herons.
A few kilometres from the station you will reach the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre – an interesting and informative place to visit. As the railway is still active with tourist trains, the trail does not follow the rail alignment exactly but diverts in places and at times follows local streets for short distances. And because it deviates from the rail tracks it can be a bit more undulating in parts, but not too hard as the surface is always smooth.
I recommend terminating at Drysdale although you can continue all the way to Geelong. However, you will be traversing mainly open country and urban areas where birding opportunities are limited. Geelong is about another 16km beyond Drysdale.