Stage 1A of the Lilydale to Yarra Glen rail trail has recently been opened to walkers and cyclists. Stage 1A is from Lilydale to Yering Station, a distance of 7 kms.
The start of the trail with old tracks and signal.
The trail follows the disused rail line from Lilydale to Healesville, which closed in the 1980s.
The wide path is very suitable for groups.
The trail begins at Beresford Road adjacent to the Warburton Trail. Opposite the start is Creek Road, a short no through road which offers parking while using the trail. Also at this location is a water re-fill station for man and beast alike.
Before you start you can top up your water supply.
The path is wide, flat and paved with Castella toppings, making it an all-weather trail.
The wide path is very evident.
The trail crosses two roads, Nelson Road in Lilydale and Station Street at Coldstream. At both these two crossings, there are gates to ensure cyclists have to dismount to proceed. A good safety initiative.
In the early part of the trail, you pass the sports fields of Mt. Lilydale Mercy College, and on the opposite side of the trail, you pass several large ponds of the Yarra Valley Water purification plant. Many ducks were swimming on the water and several straw-necked Ibis were 'grazing' on the grassy verges.
Two of the straw-necked Ibis.
Most of the trail is straight which was fitting for a train line. It has a few gentle curves, so you can't see what awaits you around them.
One of the few curves on the trail.
Where the former train lines were elevated wooden fences protect both walkers and cyclists from a sudden descent.
The fenced path makes for safe travelling.
As you approach the former Coldstream Station, some of the original rail lines are still there as it the remnant of the station platform.
A cyclist passes the former Coldstream Station, with rails in foreground.
There is limited parking at the Coldstream entry.
Flora wise most of the vegetation is native grasses, some mature gum trees and several old pines, and many weeds.
Some of the weeds are colourful.
In two places the trail passes through a stand of poplar trees, which would offer a cool respite in summer and a picturesque hue in autumn.
Almost an avenue of poplars.
Fauna wise, a rabbit was spotted in the distance sitting on the path and a small mob of kangaroos were sighted in a trail-side paddock.
A distant rabbit.
A distant mob of kangaroos.
Many species of birds were noted. Magpies were the most prolific.
One of the many magpies.
Only one wattle bird was sighted, but a few Indian Mynas were flying around as well as several mudlarks.
The solitary wattle bird.
A couple of mudlarks.
An Indian myna.
A pleasant surprise was sighting a black-shouldered kite, perched high upon a dead branch.
The high perched black-shouldered kite.
I made the walk in two stages. The weekend walk saw cyclists outnumber walkers, with many family groups cycling together.
The wide flat path is ideal for young cyclists.
On the second weekday stage, I only saw two cyclists.
A lone cyclist.
Surprisingly I saw no dogs, although there was ample evidence that both dogs and horses had plied the path.
A reminder that you are in the country.
In the very near future, if not already, this trail will become very popular as it is not overly long, particularly for cyclists, is very easily navigated, and offers interesting scenery along the way.
The former Yering Station.
All the above will double when the Yering to Yarra Glen section will be completed in December 2021, as the trail will cross several small trestle bridges as the rail trail is elevated above the landscape, due to frequent flooding.
Heed the advice.
What would have been a fantastic train journey will be a fantastic walk or cycle.