Monday, April 16, 2012

Ride report: Lilydale to Warburton rail trail (Sunday 15th April 2012)

My aim this year is to ride as many rail trails as I can. The easiest one of decent length is the Warburton rail trail so that was first on my list. I had ridden this trail before, but not for years.

The trail is 40 km each way, so it's 80 km there and back, plus whatever you need to ride to get to a train station.

The weather forecast was for a good day, but a little on the warm side at 27 degrees.

Woke up stupid early on a Sunday to get organised, eat breakfast, and ride to Richmond station for the 7:46 train from Richmond station to Lilydale. I cannot confirm or deny if I ate two breakfasts prior to boarding the train (there is a bakery a little way up Swan Street from Richmond station).

After about an hour on the train snoozing, I get into Lilydale station about quarter to 9 and immediately got started on the track. The start of the track isn't entirely obvious if you've never done it before. I found it by exiting the train station through the main gate and heading as if going to the shopping strip but instead turning left and riding to the back of the car park. I cross one road and then ride past a dirt jump park.

Crossing the next road, I then kept to the concrete footpath riding down the hill past the school ground. According to the street sign you can see above you can go around the school another way, but I've never tried it. I just kept to the concrete footpath you can see above until I got to a T-intersection at the edge of the school's fence, where I took a right (see below). I have no idea why no one has ever thought of putting a sign here to say "Rail trail thisaway". Actually they could do with a bunch more signage on this trail.

After riding past the other side of the school, there is a bit of a climb and a sharp turn. Next the path turns to gravel and there is a slight climb for a few kilometres that includes some nicely forested bits, crossing the Maroondah Highway, Old Gippsland Road and Hereford Road, Birmingham Road, York Road and Silvan Road (Mt Evelyn) until you get to the Cog cafe.

Next up there is more forest and road crossings and around Wandin you need to cross the Warburton Highway. From here there's some nice ruralscapes and as you cross Victoria Road, in the autumn time you see a line of red-leaved trees which is pretty. I love the bit where you can look over the vineyard (especially if you climb up onto the cutting), which is the half way mark. More forest and then that dead straight bit through the beautiful rural Killara. You're around Woori Yallock when you cross Healsville Road and then before you know it you come across the Home Hotel at Launching Place. Now you're riding close to the Warburton Highway and you need to cross it again at an annoying spot near Barak Road (you can wait a while looking for a gap in the traffic and it would be quite difficult to get small kids across).

On (some) Sundays, Yarra Junction has a market going, and there is a toilet block here. Next you deviate away from the highway for a few kilometres before it winds back to this main road and you cross with lights at Millgrove. Finally you're riding a little in from the main road along a poor bumpy bitumen path into Warburton. Keep your eyes open because there is one part where you can look down over the highway into the river. Once you get into Warburton there's a steep road down to the shopping strip where there are bakeries and cafes everywhere, with the river behind.

A list of cafes and food places is available at

While I was there I had a bit of a walk along the river and also visited the art gallery. You can walk into the main hall and see a photo of what Warburton used to look like in the early 20th Century, as it was gradually denuded of some of its forest.

Bizarrely there are very few bike racks in Warburton to cater for the large numbers of bike riders visiting which is a little frustrating.

Some of the animals you can see on the trail include:

  • Yaks!
  • Emus and Ostriches on the same paddock
  • Reindeer?
  • Yellow parrots
  • many 'little brown birds'
I also saw a man cycling with a small black puppy poking its head out of his rear panniers! Aww.

You can see more information about this trail on the rail trails website Warburton Rail Trail page

My Itinerary

Ride to Richmond train station

7:46 am Depart Richmond Railway Station platform 9 Lilydale train
8:41 am Arrive Lilydale station

8:45 am - 11:30 am Ride rail trail to Warburton  40 km, easy to moderate pace (stopped at the half way mark for morning tea)
11:30am - 1:30pm Lunch at Warburton, walk along the river, pop into the art gallery

1:30 pm - 4pm Ride rail trail to Lilydale 40 km, easy to moderate pace
4:39 pm Depart Lilydale Railway station, take Flinders Street train
5:32 pm Arrive Richmond railway station

(ride home)

Things to bring along

If you're thinking of riding this trail yourself, I would recommend you take along...
  • myki card
  • cardi/jacket for early morning/night
  • sunscreen, sunglasses
  • water bottles filled, snacks
  • puncture repair kit,tyre levers and spare tube, multi-tool if you have one, pump
  • camera if you're feeling photographyish