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Did the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail (OAT) a couple of weekends ago and thought I would post some info here in case others are thinking about doing the trail. We did this as part of the return leg of a trip from Lilydale to Warburton on the well-travelled Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail (LWRT).
The O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail has many possible entry and exit points. This was our route:
Leave Warbuton: head north east up Donna Buang Rd (Acheron Way, C505) till the intersection of Rd 18. [Note: the road number we actually took was different - C507 I think]. Turn left onto Rd 18 and follow this road west as far as we can. (This is considered the start point for distances mentioned below.) There are signs from here to the start of the trail. Its VERY steep (ie. we all got off and walked up the hill).
There are three sections of the trail from here when heading west:
Section 1: Dee Rd (approx 7km from start point). To leave the trail, turn left onto Dee Rd and travel south to intercept Warburton Hwy [to intercept the LWRT]. This involves: ignoring the Yuonga Road/Piedmont Ave cross-road and continuing straight on Road 18; ignoring the left turn to Sussex St and continuing straight on Road 18; ignoring the left turn to McKenzie King Drive and continuing straight on Road 18; ignoring the right turn to APM access track and taking the left turn onto Dee Rd. The LWRT should be nearby.
This section has a couple of parts where its marked "no entry" but we just went ahead anyway - the OAT continues uninterrupted. We had to lift our bikes over the closed fences a couple of times, though.
Section 2: Travel as far as Don Rd (C506), before you get to Don River (approx 12.3km from start point). To leave the trail, turn left onto Don Rd and travel south towards Laughing Place to intercept Warburton Hwy[to intercept the LWRT]. There are no turn-offs for the bulk of this section. This involves ignoring the left-hand exit to Ferngully Rd; ignoring the right-hand exit to Wallaby Rd (which is actually closed now) and taking the left onto Don Rd. The LWRT should be nearby.
There are some sections of fallen trees in Section 2 which required us to carry our bikes over. Very annoying, but I'm sure people will clear this up soon.
This was the nicest section of view of the whole OAT. The end of Section 2 is an ideal exit point. Going further than this was not worth it.
Section 3: travel further than Don Rd by getting over Don River and go as far as Healesville Kooweerup Road (approx 16.3km + around 1km from start point). We should turn left onto Don Rd and travel south to the next right turn, and take that turn (unsure of road name but probably a continuation of Road 18). This should take us north, almost doubling back upon ourselves and take us over Don River. We should take our first left turn (also a continuation of Road 18) rather than going straight on (which will eventually lead to a dead end). [This was not required, they've built a really nice little transition area here between the two sections]. After this, we should ignore the first cross road (no name known) and continue on Road 18; we will then hit an intersection (maybe a t-junction) where we need to turn left to continue on Road 18; the OAT ends at Parrot road after an annoying section of steeps climbs and falls that we had to walk our bikes through. It looks like you can go straight ahead, but you can't as its private property so you have to via McMahon's Road and Dalry road onto the C411 before intercepting the LWRT.
The entrance and exit to Section 3 were really very steep (rocky, have to walk bikes up and down). The quality of the view from here was not as good as the other sections ofthe trail, and I would rather have skipped this section altogether due to the annoyance of walking up and down the steep sections. My gf fell over coming down, and if you had large loads (or kids) with you it would be plain silly do this section.
Hope this helps
I rode the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail over the Easter 2011 long weekend for the first time. A great ride following the historic open-channelled aqueduct through fern gullies, flowing creeks, and moss covered forest. The ride provides great views down to the Warburton valley and back towards the Dandenong Ranges.
The trail has a gentle gradient that can be ridden in either direction, but it does run downhill from the Warburton end back towards Melbourne. I did a circuit ride (about 45km) incorporating the Warburton trail and also the Aqueduct trail. Parking at Yarra Junction, I joined the Warburton trail and rode through to Warburton which is one of the most scenic parts of the rail trail.
The Aqueduct trail is well signed in Warburton, and can be accessed by riding through the Warburton township along the rail trail and following the signs to Mt Donna Buang. Signs will take you past the old hospital and up Younga Rd to the start of the trail which is also well signed. The climb up the hill to the start of the trail is steep, but it only takes about 20 minutes to peddle up.
The trail is gated along the way, but there are pedestrian / cyclist gates that are always open. I would recommend firstly riding east (uphill direction) along the trail to the O'shannassy reservoir which is about 9km, and then heading back along the full length of the aqueduct trail which is all an easy grade downhill. The trail has great views down to Warburton and beyond and looks especially good during Autumn.
The ride passes through dense eucalypt forests, and fern gullies. There are a number of creeks that flow under the trail, and many sections where you ride past historic old equipment that was used in the aqueduct's operation. Parks Vic do a great job in maintaining the trail and making sure it is well signed. The trail surface is well maintained and makes for an easy ride. Good for mountain bikes, but also suitable for hybrid bikes.
I would recommend riding through to Don Rd and getting off there rather than going all the way along. At Don Rd there is a steep descent down to the road, and then down some stairs to rejoin the trail after a steep ascent. I would get off at Don Rd and head back down the road to rejoin the Warburton rail trail.
There are a number of places to stop on the trail where you can read about its history etc and have a break. It makes a great addition to the Warburton trail and can be incorporated into a circuit ride heading back from Warburton. Suitable for kids if they are reasonable competent riders. Be sure to take warm gear though because it is about 5-10 degrees cooler in the forest than it is down on the valley floor.
Just wanted say a big thank you to OP and MatthewK for their posts, I was hoping to find a recent post about the track since I too was hoping to ride there, and i finally did it last saturday.
Took my bike on the Martyr's bus service from Seville to Warburton and got off at the last stop in Warbie which is at the intersection of the Donna Buang Rd (Archeron Way) and Woods Pt Rd. I then rode up Donna buang Rd and found markers to the trail about 1.5 kms from the Intersection. Headed east along the track and must say the track is maintained quite well. The only section I had to walk with the bike was a 150 mt section where some repairs were going on. Rode about 18 odd kms till i reached a Melbourne Water construction site and this is where the track seemed to end but I continued along an unsealed road till I found markers guiding me back to the track. I hit the Warbie-Woods Pt Rd and continued down till i found another marker which brought me back to the track about 6 kms from the start of the track.
Track is not too difficult, as OP said, hybrids could do it- but there were a few steep sections when I rode from the construction site back to the track.These sections were steeper than the Donna Buang Rd and I must've been climbing at 7-8 kmph.
All in all a lovely ride, Took me about 2 hrs 10 mins to ride the 35 odd kms loop and I then rode back to Warbie and took the bus back to Seville. Martyrs bus services charged me $2 for carrying the bike on.
Thanks for the advice and information.
I rode part of the trail today with a friend, despite the snow on nearby hills! The new carpark at Ewarts Rd is now built and was a good spot to park and start the ride. There is an immediate drop off over Don River, and hill with steps leading up to Don Rd. Once over Don Rd, there is a steep ascent to the trail but once on the trail it was fairly flat. We rode up to the Yurong Rd carpark at Warburton before returning the same route. A lovely ride, even though it was wet and muddy on the trail. Probably did about 25km all up which was quite nice, there would have been good views on a better day...
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