Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Everyone needs to escape the city from time to time to take in some fresh air, see the sights and literally stop to smell the roses. On the Lilydale - Warburton rail trail it's possible to have it all without going too far from home.
Starting from Lilydale it's a 40km one way trip to Warburton (80km return) that is, if you choose to do the entire rail trail. The trail is well maintained and is made of a fine gravel with sealed trail between Milgrove and Warburton (final 3km). The trail is flat except for the first section between Lilydale - Woori Yallock which has some climbing to contend with, the rest of the trail is an easy flat ride that's perfect for all ages.
Yarra Junction playground, Millgrove bakery along with another shop at Millgrove
We decided on a 10km section (20km return) starting adjacent to the Home Hotel car park off the Warburton Hwy at Launching Place. As we had the 4 kids in tow, two riding and two in bike trailers we thought 20km would be pushing the limits of our two young riders but because the trail is so smooth and flat they cruised through it in relative comfort.
The trail follows Warburton Hwy for a good percentage of the ride yet you will see sights you will never see in the car and you can really take in the beautiful mountain backdrop of Mt Donna Buang and all the cottages and farms that line the way.
We stopped many a times to give the kids a break and to see things along the trail. The Yarra Junction playground was a hit as were the Jam donuts from the Millgrove bakery. Adults may prefer the Upper Yarra Railway Museum or the Sunday markets held at Warburton, Millgrove and Yarra Junction on various weekends.
In Warburton we found a quirky house just past the old Warburton station that the kids were amused by. We later found out it was built by Boinga Bob and it's probably not surprising that the house has been featured on t.v and in print many times.
If you haven't brought a packed lunch with you there are plenty of nice cafes to choose from in Warburton and a great tourist information center that can help you out with some local knowledge of things to do in and around town.
At end of the rail trail in Warburton you will find Cog Cafe, a bike cafe that hires bicycles for the hour or the day so if you don't have a bike or find it difficult transporting yours then hiring one could be a good option.
The only slightly negative remark I will make about the rail trail is having to cross the busy Warburton Hwy (at least on Sunday) just out of Launching Place without pedestrian lights or any formal road crossing assistance in the form of zebra crossing or flashing amber lights. This itself was a dangerous obstacle given it was so busy we had to get everyone to the middle of the road and wait for the all clear before continuing back onto the rail trail. I was however glad to see volunteers out counting the number of cyclists and pedestrians trying to cross the highway and even taking photos to help lobby for a safer road crossing.