Warby Rail Trail (Lilydale to Warburton)
Ride on hard tails with no luggage
We planned a day ride on the Warby Trail on a recent trip to Melbourne. We booked a package (pick up, drop off, food and bike hire) online through Kerrie at Pedals Australia (pedalsbikes.com.au) 3 or 4 days before the trip. On the morning of our ride, Kerry texted to suggest we hold off for another day - there was a fair bit of rain in the Valley even though Melbourne was generally fine. We could fit that in, so we went the next day.
Tuesday's weather was perfect - 26 degrees and hardly a cloud in the sky. We caught a Lilydale train from Flinders Street station - that takes about an hour and cost us $9.50 for an all day pass. Kerry met us at the cafe opposite the train station and drove us back into the carpark to the start of the trail. Well, she did have to get our bikes and helmets - nice Treks "comforts" (mountain bikes with skinner road type tyres). One of the bikes also had a rear bag and rack, so that was really handy. She arranged to meet us in Warburton in 4 hours ( we ride slowly with all the video and photos we take). The package price was very reasonable for such a customised service - we highly recommend them.
As the trail leaves Lilydale it skirted the usual suburban area scenry - schools, houses, earthworks etc. The slope was a gentle upwards gradient, and before too long the houses had disappeared and we were in the bush. We stopped briefly at First Aid Post, as it is just off the Trail, but soon kept going to Mount Evelyn railway station. We had a decent break there, refilled water bottles, used the toilets etc. All the facilities of the town were within a stone's throw of the Trail, but we didn't need anything.
Leaving Mount Evelyn, Kerrie had warned us about the only section the Trail could be missed - the rail line clearly crosses the road near the bakery, but the path continues along down the road. Coming from Perth, I was used to looking for the form, so it was clear to me, but I see how riders could follow the path and lose the Trail.
The Trail now heads downhill, and cycling is easy. The Trail also enters a beautiful part of bush with the white barked gum trees (mountain ash?) and tree ferns lining the sides. This was my favourite section of the ride - so lush and green. We saw the Carriage Cafe right next to the trail, but we didn't have time to stop.
Around Woori Yallock , the trail enters open farmland on the valley floor. We had already crossed the long bridge used to manage the flooding. The station has has one of the many water points along the Trail, so again we stopped for a water top up.
The Trail now starts a very gentle upwards gradient. It feels weird - you feel like you are riding up into the alpine area, but it doesn't seem steep at all. I was pleased to see lots of riders outs, and even a few horses, enjoying the perfect weather. It is not unusual to ride similar trails in Perth on week days and not see anyone.
Unfortunately, the Upper Yarra Museum was closed (it is open Wed & Sun 11am- 4pm), but we took a few pics over the fence. I really wanted to see some of the train stuff, but maybe next time. Again, there were lots of small shops close to the Trail if you needed anything.
Millgrove Saw Mill is clearly visible from the Trail, and we also saw Alpine Mill - they are the reason the trail is here, and are important reminders from the past. The trail is now sealed into Warburton from here.
The road and the Yarra River sometimes drop away steeply from the Trail, which continues along fairly flatly. It feels strange - suddenly the drop off is quite steep and the views very nice, but you feel like you have been riding on the flat.
Warburton is very picturesque. The trail head is straight a head as you enter town, but we followed the rail trail a bit further on looking for the La La Train turn table. We couldn't find it, so when we reached the other end of town, we followed the Warburton River Walk back into town. It was very pretty.
We got to our cafe about 15 mins before Kerrie was due to pick us up. But it was almost 3pm, so our food and drink came quickly. Kerrie picked us up as promised, and drove us back to Lilydale train station. The busy, hilly drive back was such a contrast to the quiet, relaxing ride up. We did get a few glimpses of the trail as we drove. Suddenly, at 5pm, we were back in the hustle and bustle of Melbourne, well satisfied by a truly memorable ride.