Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail

Main street Warburton.

Main street Warburton.

When I started this adventure I wanted to ride all the rail trails in Victoria. In 2008 Roy and I rode the Murray to Mountains Rail trail over 200 km.   The trip included Myrtleford to Beechworth, Beechworth to Wangaratta and return to Myrtleford and on to Bright and return to Myrtleford. The next Rail Trail we did that trip was Orbost to Bairnsdale return approximately 200 km.  We wanted to do the Warburton to Lilydale trail but at that stage it was only suitable for mountain bikes. The Warburton to Lilydale rail line was built in 1901 to transport timber.  Due to the popularity of motor vehicles the rail line closed in mid 1965.  This line was converted to a recreational rail trail and opened in 1997.

Bronwyn with murals at Warburton Station.

Bronwyn with murals at Warburton Station.

The Warburton railway station has historic murals of well-known buildings painted by local artist Peter van Breugel.  The community and various businesses sponsored the paintings.

Roy with murals at Warburton Station.

Roy with murals at Warburton Station.

We started our ride at the old station.  The afternoon was hot as we rode downhill.  Cockatoos were shrieking and swooping with the fun of watching two on a bike.

Old Warburton Hospital, now closed.  The gardens are well maintained.

Old Warburton Hospital, now closed. The gardens are well maintained.

The first few kilometres are asphalt but it’s bumpy from tree roots and repairs. Most of the section from Warburton to Woori Yallock is downhill but the gradient is gradual at approximately one in fifty.

Woori Yallock to Warburton Rail Trail.

Woori Yallock to Warburton Rail Trail.

The multiple road crossings sneak up on riders and sometimes Roy had to apply the brakes quickly.  I found the road crossings annoying because there were so many of them. By the time we came back the sun was setting, the birds were preparing for their nests and a slight breeze was blowing to cool us down.  Crickets had started chirping, bellbirds chiming and several flocks of raucous galahs scratching for seeds in the dry grass. That section was 46 km. The next morning we rode the Woori Yallock to Lilydale section.

Lilydale to Woori Yallock Rail Trail.

Lilydale to Woori Yallock Rail Trail.

Just after leaving Woori Yallock there is a 300m, teeth rattling bridge.  On this bridge we had to peddle so we couldn’t lift our tender rumps off the seats. Even though the bridges were mostly bone jarring I love crossing them and thinking of the legacy that the engineers who built them left us. They were built during the mid to late 1800s and have been restored. The trail wove through lush farming land, vineyards and many small towns like Yarra Junction and Seville with a restored train café. Shortly after the bridge is a long climb to Mount Evelyn township.   The town is the highest point on the trail. Downhill from there the trail goes through a 154 m long, corrugated tunnel. After the tunnel we were flying downhill at 37 km an hour and had to slam on the brakes for yet another road crossing. The bird songs are with us all the way.  The smaller ones chattering high in the trees, the black crow “arking”, bellbirds chiming, kookaburras laughing at us and flocks of cockatoos screeching. The Warburton to Lilydale trail is popular with walkers, cyclists, groups of scouts and horse riders.  It was the most used trail of all the ones we had ridden. The rail trail weaves through fragrant pine forests linking their arms overhead.  There are  ferns and tall eucalypt trees to shade riders from the hot sun. The Woori Yallock to Lilydale trail was our last ride for the holiday.  That day’s  ride was 38 km. http://www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/Lists/Parks-Facilities/Lilydale-to-Warburton-Rail-Trail My favourite trail so far is still the Murray to Mountains which has very few road crossings and apart from the steady climb to Beechworth is nearly flat. It’s been a few years since I did that trail and maybe time has erased my memory of the uphill climbs. https://www.railtrails.org.au/trail?view=trail&id=50

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