Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, O'Shannassy Aqueduct
Imagine riding an almost flat trail through glorious mountain ash forest and tree ferns protected for nearly 100 years. It rivals the majestic Black Spur in scenic beauty and the only traffic you might meet on this ride is another cyclist or a walker or two. The trail was constructed to service the O’Shannassy aqueduct built between 1911-1914. Now it is a dedicated cycling and walking facility. Just ignore the ‘walkers only’ signs you encounter; they really do mean ‘walkers and cyclists only’.
In many sections the trail resembles two singletracks with just enough leaf litter to give the flavour of real mountain biking. This ride is sheer scenic beauty with views down to the Yarra Valley and a number of rushing mountain streams to top up your drink bottle.
There are several options to start and finish, depending on how far you want to ride. If you start at the Ewarts Road car park, there is a solid little climb to start with followed by almost flat terrain to the O’Shannassy Weir. If you want to avoid the uphill start, begin further along the trail at Dee Road (~5.9 kilometres from start). At the time of writing there is one 150 metre uphill singletrack section well into the ride, but everything else along the route is flat.
After reaching O’Shannassy Weir, you have two further options to shorten you ride, rather than returning exactly the way you came. One is Cement Creek Road, a nice dirt road, largely downhill, that brings you out on the Warburton Highway about seven kilometres east of town. This links to a bike path beside the Yarra River that would take you into Warburton (to access Cement Creek Road, return along the aqueduct trail approximately 7.6km then turn left). The other option is to take Yuonga Road (turn left 14.4km into the return trip). This takes you directly into Warburton.
It is not easy to find routes that suit people who have yet to develop the strength to cope with hills, but this one fits the bill. If, on the other hand, you want more of an epic challenge, start and finish in Lilydale and use the rail trail for around 130 kilometres of traffic free cycling through the beautiful Yarra Valley. Alternatively ride from Lilydale, stay overnight in scenic Warburton, and return the next day.
The ride starts near Launching Place, about 65 kilometres east of Melbourne (Melway page 10 R7). Take the Maroondah Highway then Warburton Highway to Launching Place then turn left up Don Road to the Ewarts Road car park.
Food and Drink
Nothing available at the start. Closest supplies at Warburton (also many fine cafés and restaurants there). Water available on the ride at mountain streams.
Warburton is a popular destination for day trips and longer stays, with many good walks and scenic spots. Plenty of fine cafés, restaurants and shops. Warburton information centre, situated in the main street, has all the information you need.
27.179 km / 16.888 mi
661 m / 2,168 ft
506 m / 1,662 ft
347 m / 1,139 ft