Q&A — The Great Vic Gravel Route

This post answers some common questions about the Great Vic Gravel Route and the dataset it was developed from—OpenStreetMap. Two related posts, here and here, provide more technical info on how the route was created. If you’ve got any questions, please leave a comment or send a message using the form on the About page.

Where can I download a GPX file of the route?

The Great Vic Gravel Route is described here. You can view the route and download the gpx files from Ride With GPS. I’ve split the file into three sections: (1) SW Victoria, from Nelson to Elmore (north of Bendigo), (2) central Victoria, from Elmore to Hotham Heights, and (3) Gippsland, from Hotham Heights to Mallacoota.

Revised GPX files will be uploaded to Ride With GPX and older files removed as the route is progressively improved. A full log of updates is provided at the bottom of this page. The first update has already been posted.

How reliable is the Great Vic Gravel Route?

The GVGR was created from online data and satellite images and has never been ridden. Like any new route, some sections will probably need to be changed based on on-ground experience. Overall, the route appears to be highly reliable but be sure to read the notes below.

Which information sources were used to create the route?

The primary source was road and track data from OpenStreetMap. The entire route was repeatedly inspected on satellite images to iron out bugs. The route has also been checked against the Victorian Government’s topographic maps to ensure roads and tracks are open to the public.

How accurate is OpenStreetMap’s road data in Victoria?

OpenStreetMap contains extremely accurate data on Victoria’s public road network. The road data has been refined and updated over 15 years. OpenStreetMap data is used in lots of popular mapping apps such as Apple Maps, Ride With GPS, Kamoot, Strava, Gaia GPS and many more.

How comprehensive is the data on sealed and unsealed roads in OpenStreetMap?

OpenStreetMap contains information on road surfaces for most roads in Victoria. There are two major exceptions: (1) urban Melbourne, where many roads do not have surface data and (2) local, residential roads in smaller cities and towns. These exceptions will have minimal impacts on the GVGR. OpenStreetMap contains information on road surfaces for virtually all other roads across regional Victoria.

How accurate is the data on sealed and unsealed roads in OpenStreetMap?

A recent review found that road surface data in OpenStreetMap was extremely accurate in Victoria. The accuracy was comparable to the Victorian Government’s road database and road maps. Nevertheless, small errors undoubtedly exist. Road surfaces on the GVGR have been checked on satellite images, but some surfaces may need to be updated if roads were sealed recently.

How accurate and comprehensive is OpenStreetMap’s data on forest tracks in Victoria?

It’s way better than Google Maps, but that’s not saying much. OpenStreetMap contains more than 61,000 km of tracks in Victoria. In some parks and reserves, the tracks are extremely accurate and comprehensive. In other areas, many tracks are missing and alignments could be improved. The map continues to get better as time goes on.

How can the Great Vic Gravel Route be said to be reliable if the track data isn’t complete?

In most of western and central Victoria, the GVGR travels on public roads, not forest tracks, so incomplete track data will have little impact. It may have some impact in far south-west Victoria and greater effects in Gippsland. However, I suspect (but cannot be definitive) that future additions to the track network will cause, at most, small and localised impacts on the route. The biggest impacts will be caused if: (1) some tracks are identified as being closed to the public, and (2) some road surfaces are updated from unpaved to paved. Small additions to paved roads can trigger large changes to the final route.

Lots of forest tracks are only open to management vehicles. Does the route go down these?

The entire route has been compared against the Victorian Government’s topographic maps to ensure that tracks that are only open to management vehicles or are marked as being permanently closed are not used. However, there may be more of these on the ground. If so, the route will need to be altered to avoid them. This could potentially cause large deviations in Gippsland.

Many forest tracks are closed seasonally. How will this affect the route?

The route follows lots of tracks that are closed seasonally every year, especially in Gippsland, and cannot be followed when tracks are closed. Government websites on track closures should always be checked.

Can the route be followed if rivers are running high?

The route includes many fords across creeks and rivers, especially in Gippsland. Some may not be crossed if water levels are high. In particular, the route includes a ford across the Snowy River at Jacksons Crossing. This ford is on a well-known 4WD Track and is described in the excellent Hema Victoria High Country Atlas and Guide. If this ford is not passable, then the Gippsland section of the route would require a major re-route to the north (across or north of McKillops Bridge) or south through Orbost.

Are there other issues I should worry about?

The GVGR is 1,730 km long. It’s bound to create some Type 2 fun. Two points to note:

  • The core purpose of the GVGR was to find the shortest route from Nelson to Mallacoota with the minimum possible distance of paved roads. As such, it doesn’t include any deviations to accommodation, supply points or other services.
  • Some tracks in NW Victoria are sandy and may require a long hike-a-bike or a fat bike. Many small dirt roads in north-west Victoria are labelled ‘dry weather only’ on topographic maps and may not be passable after wet weather. Many tracks in Gippsland are steep and will require some hike-a-bike.

Notwithstanding the checks described above, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the Great Vic Gravel Route or any other routes described on this web site. Like all routes on the web, should you be interested in riding all or parts of the GVGR, you do so at your own risk — and, hopefully, for your lasting pleasure. It does look awesome.

Is there any other info on how the route was created?

Yes. I kept this page simple, with basic Q&A’s. and there’s a lot more technical info on how the route was made here. This page shows some other routes that were generated by using slightly different input data in the route selection program.

I’ve found a problem in the route. How can I fix or report it?

If you’ve got the time, you can update the data in OpenStreetMap. That way, everyone will benefit from your edits in the future. There are lots of great tutorials on how to edit OpenStreetMap, like this one, and heaps on YouTube. This will fix the underlying data but won’t change the GVGR. If you find a problem in the route, please send a message using the form on the About page and I’ll follow it up and will refine the route based on your feedback.

GPX file updates

As the route is improved, new GPX files will be uploaded to Ride With GPX and old files will be removed. Update details are described below.

Version 1
  • Uploaded 12 Jan 2022.
Western Victoria

Ver 1.2

  • Uploaded 14 Jan 2022. Route display now shows paved and unpaved roads in Ride With GPS.
  • Route now heads north along T and W Road and removes unnecessary diversion along Lyons Track and Princes Hwy.
  • Route is now 2.2 km shorter and avoids 2.4 km of asphalt on Princes Hwy. The total length of asphalt along the complete route is now 30 km.

Ver 1.3

  • Edited on 2 February 2022. Added cuesheet. No changes to route details.
Northern Victoria

Ver 1.2

Uploaded 14 Jan 2022. No changes to route details. Route display now shows paved and unpaved roads in Ride With GPS.

Ver 1.3

  • Edited on 2 February 2022. Added cuesheet. No changes to route details.
Eastern Victoria

Ver 1.2

  • Uploaded 14 Jan 2022. No changes to route details. Route display now shows paved and unpaved roads in Ride With GPS.

Ver 1.3

  • Edited on 2 February 2022. Added cuesheet. No changes to route details.

Acknowledgements

All maps and routes are based on data from OpenStreetMap. It is a pleasure to acknowledge the work done by the many thousands of mappers who have created this invaluable resource.

More info

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