Cycling Lilydale to Warburton and back (Warby Rail Trail)

The Warby Trail is the popular name for the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail. You find the trail in Yarra Valley next to Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne.

I have cycled the Warby Trail several times before but I have then always returned on the same day. This time, I had booked one night’s accommodation in Warburton. Which would give me a bit of time to explore there as well.

The map below incorporates both cycling days.

I apologise for the gaps in the map above. Runkeeper, the app that I am using, every so often crashes and reloads itself for no obvious reason. It is a pity because Runkeeper provides an excellent interface and .gpx file export facilities.

Also, my apologies for a lengthy post with many pictures. I just couldn’t help myself. Such fantastic 2 days / 1 night and I want to share it all 🙂

Day 1: Lilydale to Warburton via Warby Trail – 40km

You get to Lilydale by train. Lilydale is the end station of the… Lilydale train line. Here I am outside that station, keen as mustard to get cracking.

Outside Lilydale train station

The first 6 to 7 kilometres from Lilydale station to Mount Evelyn is all uphill. Gentle uphill mind you. Remember that trains once traveled here. Calling it a mountain though may be a stretch…

The old Mount Evelyn train station is eclectic. Note the “wooden” train conductor…

Plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes at Mount Evelyn, perfect for a stop if it wasn’t so early into the ride.

Mount Evelyn’s old train station

Several of the charming old train stations looked like the below. This is Wandin.

Wandin’s old train station

And the rail trail goes on and on. Lots of straight and flat stretches.

Rail trail – Lilydale to Warburton – through the bush

Cafe Seville is 15km into the ride, near the old train station of… Seville.

I didn’t stop here on the way to Warburton but I will tomorrow on the way back to Lilydale. The photo is from the rail trail itself. That is how close the cafe is. Tempted?

Cafe Seville

Long sections of the Warby Trail is through tranquil countryside. Horses, cattle, farm animals, ducks. You name it. They were all there.

Rail trail – Lilydale to Warburton – rural setting

You find of course vineyards along the Warby Trail as it crosses part of Yarra Valley. Not much to show today, being late winter and post season.

Yarra Valley vineyard – outside of season

The Warby Trail accommodates cyclists, walkers and… horses. As shown here with the “dismount platform”. There were further evidence in places on the trail itself.

Rail trail – Lilydale to Warburton – Horse dismount platform

The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail does not approach Yarra River until close to Warburton. However, plenty of water and creeks along the way.

Rail trail – Lilydale to Warburton – Plenty of water around

Did I mention straight patches?

Rail trail – Lilydale to Warburton – very straight in places

Yarra Junction is a funny place. There is now a train museum at the old train station. Looked more like a junkyard to me. Although, I could see some pretty cool old rail signs there (not in this picture).

Another good place for a rest. Plenty of facilities and I could even see a Bendigo Bank.

Yarra Junction old train station is now a railway museum

Arriving on the Warby trail in Warburton. The trail to the right and my hotel for the night to the left. Not far to divert.

Warburton – Alpine Retreat Hotel is right next to the rail trail

Alpine Retreat Hotel in Warburton has seen better days. If you can handle its faded glory, it is dirt-cheap to stay there. It is also in a great location on the main road in town, the Warburton Highway. I paid $50 for a room accommodating 3 people. Needless to say, I loved it!!

Alpine Retreat Hotel from the front, off Warburton Highway

Room 27 where I stayed. Fantastic carpet… For the 70s…

Alpine Retreat Hotel – Room 27 – Sleeps 3

What about Warburton itself? Well, not much is left of the old train station other than a sign.

Warburton’s old train station – not much left of it

Nearby on the Warby Trail is Cog Bike Cafe and thus popular with bike riders. With a name like that…

Cog Bike Cafe in Warburton – Popular with cyclists (of course)
Warburton Riverside Track

I had spare time in the afternoon and decided to walk the Warburton Riverside Track. Marked with dots on the map below.

Yarra River Walking Tracks in Warburton

I started and finished outside of Alpine Retreat Hotel.

The walk alongside Yarra River was gorgeous. At times you are almost at water level. Flooding must occur sometimes and the tracks would be under water. Not today though. Still, plenty of water.

Warburton River Walk

The map above showed several bridges across Yarra River. Here is one such crossing, appropriately called “Swing Bridge”.

I wonder what the “swingability factor” is…

Swing Bridge crossing Yarra River in Warburton

It surprised me to see Californian Redwoods trees in the middle of Warburton. They must like this environment as they had grown reasonably tall.

California Redwood trees in Warburton

My evening was spent in the pub downstairs from my room at the Alpine Retreat Hotel. A good ol’ country pub, and being a Friday evening, it was busy.

I shouted myself a couple of beers and a roast pork with lots of roasted veggies. Tasty and price-worthy. Happy!

I will spare you further details…

Day 2: Warburton to Lilydale via O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail and Warby Trail – 49km

Next day was a Saturday and I was out at 7am looking for breakfast. No activity on the main street of Warburton at that time.

Warburton – Saturday @ 7am

The one open place was Warburton Bakery, housed in a converted service station. I got a cup of tea and toasted ham and cheese sandwich to get me ready for the day.

Warburton Bakery

There was a large map on the wall outside of Warburton Bakery.

I will start cycling the “Aqueduct Trail” that you can see on the map, above and to the left of “Warburton”. From Don Road, I will cycle south to Launching Place and rejoin the Warby Trail.

District map outside Warburton Bakery
O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

The correct name as you can see on the sign below. To get there, you first have to climb a hill. A local notoriety as I heard people talking about it. Sure, I walked uphill with my bike for most of it.

O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail – looking west from up the hill at Warburton

Warburton is down there somewhere. It may not look high up, but trust me, I could feel that climb.

Looking down towards Warburton from O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

Cycling on a maintenance trail next to an open aqueduct means flat terrain. Apparently, the height difference is something like 40cm over 1 km. Naturally, the trail is not as super flat as the water channel, but yeah, pretty flat.

O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail is only accessible in a few places. Like here next to Dee Road, providing open space, picnic tables and lovely views. Perfect for a break. Which I had.

O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail – Picnic ground off Dee Road Carpark

O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail is more suitable for hiking or mountain biking than for hybrid bikes. I have a hybrid.

Plenty of rain had fallen in the preceding days. Even with partly clear skies today, the terrain was wet and muddy in places. You can cycle the Aqueduct Trail with a hybrid bike but you better check where you are going.

I must redo the trail as “Hans The Hiker”….

O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

Flat until before Don Road and a valley cut through it. Now it is seriously steep.

Recommended to dismount your bike and walk it down. I spoke to a bloke who said that he ignored that sign. He ended up with a dislocated shoulder. With that in mind, I dismounted.

O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail – Steep down there towards Don Road

I assume that there was some levelled construction to take the water across the valley. The trail continued up the hill on the opposite side.

Me, I got a “free ride” all the way to Launching Place on Don Road. It was downhill for kilometres.

O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail – Looking up from Don Road
Back on the Warby Trail

Plenty of wind today. Headwind. Which may not come across in the photo below.

Back on the Warby Trail towards Lilydale

I skipped lunch today and had a coffee and muffin at Cafe Seville instead.

Lovely and popular place, and being midday Saturday the locals were having events here. Cakes and crowds were walking in and out.

Coffee and cake break at Cafe Seville

But you better keep an eye on the magpies. If they are not attacking you in spring, they will take any opportunity to steal your food.

Magpie lurking at Cafe Seville

Cafe Seville provides an area where riders can tie up their horses while having a cuppa. Nice!

Horse parking at Cafe Seville

A final picture as I was rolling down the hill from Mount Evelyn towards Lilydale station. Somebody was burning garden waste and the smoke made for an interesting photo effect.

Backyard burn off between Mount Evelyn and Lilydale

To conclude, this may be my longest post to date. But to my defence I say that it covers 2 full days. Still, I hope you enjoyed it.

If you are in Melbourne and feel like some exercise and country air, you can do worse than cycle the Warby Trail. Lilydale to Warburton and back. It is absolutely doable in a day.

Go for it!!!

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