footbridge over Yarra River
Small town in the upper Yarra Valley
Warburton is an quiet, attractive and rather
charming old goldmining town of some 2000 people
set in a fertile green valley by the Yarra
River. It is located 76 km east of Melbourne via
the Warburton Highway and 159 m above sea-level.
Prior to European settlement the area was
occupied by the Woiworung Aborigines. When gold
was discovered in 1863, a rush ensued and a new
town was laid out 2 km from the initial
settlement and named after police magistrate
Charles Warburton Carr. It also functioned as a
service centre to goldfields further east.
With the arrival of the railway in 1901 the
town became a railway terminus and the
salubrious mountain air and scenic attractions
began to draw Melburnians, resulting in the
provision of guesthouses.
Seventh Day Adventists moved here from
Melbourne in 1904. They set up a printing works
in 1906, a sanatorium and hospital in 1910 and a
health food factory in 1923.
Floods struck the town in 1934 causing a
degree of permanent relocation .
The Seventh Day Adventists, and their
industries, are still a strong presence in the
town. A timber-milling industry has also emerged
on the back of the local forests.
Swimming, fishing, bushwalking, horseriding
and birdwatching are popular local pastimes and
skiing is enjoyed on Mt Donna Buang in winter.
Things to see:
goldmining water-wheel at the Warburton
Water Wheel Information Centre
Warburton Water-Wheel Information Centre,
Warburton Highway. There is an interpretive
display detailing the past of this goldmining
and timber region. Volunteers are able to assist
with information on accommodation and tourist
attractions. It is currently open from 11.00
a.m.-3.00 p.m. weekdays, 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
Saturdays and 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. Sundays,
tel: (03) 5962 9600.
Upper Yarra Arts and Entertainment Centre
The Upper Yarra Arts and Entertainment Centre in
Warburton Highway hosts art exhibitions, live
shows and cinematic screenings, tel: (03) 5966
Yarra Valley Showcase
The Yarra Valley Showcase in Main St features
items by local woodworkers and craftspeople. It
is open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. from
Wednesday to Monday, tel: (03) 5966 5544.
Tommy Finn's Trout Farm
Tommy Finn's Trout Farm is located 3 km west of
town, between Warburton and Millgrove, on the
northern side of the Warburton Highway. You can
catch your own or just buy it fresh. It is open
daily from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., tel: (03)
The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail
Warburton lies at one end of the Lilydale -
Warburton Rail Trail which allows you to walk or
ride your bicycle or horse for 38 km along a
clearly marked course following the route of the
old railway line which was built in 1901 to
relay local fruit, vegetables and timber to the
Melbourne line (it closed in 1964).
The track can be subdivided into several
sections which can be walked singly or
collectively. The first section heads west to
Millgrove (3.3 km).
It can be started at Warburton station (or
you can, if you wish, start at East Warburton
and make your way along the cycling paths,
across the river and along the highway to
Warburton). Beyond Warburton it passes by the
gateway to Yarra Ranges National Park, Tommy
Finn's Trout Farm and Mt Little Jo.
The Millgrove to Wesburn segment (1.7 km) is
followed by the Wesburn to Yarra Junction
section (3.4 km) which is a particularly
attractive trek that crosses the Little Yarra,
offering fine views over the Central Highlands
and Yarra Ranges National Park. It concludes at
the Yarra Junction museum , open Sundays and
public holidays from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (see
entry on Yarra Junction).
The Yarra Junction to Launching Place section
(2.2 km) cuts back and forth across the
Warburton Highway and ends at The Launching
Place Hotel (parking is available between the
hotel and the general store).
The Launching Place to Woori Yallock section
(6.4 km) finishes at the Woori Yallock station
which is in Syme Rd (close to the Warburton
Highway). There are parking and picnic
facilities. The next portion, from Woori Yallock
to Killara (4 km), terminates at Killara station
in Sunnyside Road. There is a carpark and a
picnic area with horse facilities. The Killara
to Seville section (3.2 km) is followed by the
Seville to Wandin section (3.4 km) which
concludes at the Wandin station, near the
Warburton Highway. There is a carpark and picnic
The Wandin to Mt Evelyn walk (5.4 km), passes
through some damp fern gullies and remnant
bushland. It ends at the former Mt Evelyn
station (now restored and used as a library)
where there is an adjacent picnic area.
The final section (5 km) is from Mt Evelyn to
Lilydale. It passes through an area rich in
fauna (such as kangaroos and birds) and
springtime wildflowers and terminates at the
corner of the Maroondah Highway and Queens Road.
For a map ring the Yarra Ranges Shire (tel:
1300 368 333). If you require more details ring
(03) 5964 4842. Bicycle Victoria can be
contacted on (03) 9328 3000.
There are a very large number of outstanding
forest walks which radiate outwards from the
town into the forests of mountain ash (the
second-largest tree species in the world). Many
are scenic and take in sites associated with the
goldmining and timbergetting which have been the
economic backbone of the district. Some are
outlined in the pamphlets 'Golden Views 1' and
'Golden Views 2', available from the town's
information centre. The Department of Natural
Resources and Environment also puts out a number
of brochures outlining other walks, notably
'Yarra State Forest Walks and Drives', tel: (03)
5966 7203. Only some of the walks are dealt with
Many of the trails follow the old timber
tramways which were built to convey timber from
the forests to bush sawmills. They often
followed rivers as the gradient tended to be
more even there. Intricate trestle bridges
associated with the tramways remain at river
crossings, as do some tunnels which were blasted
through hills when the gradient was too steep.
Horsepower was the mode of haulage until
steam-powered locomotives arrived in 1913 and
motor locomotives in the 1930s. A major forest
fire in 1939 destroyed a good deal of the track
system and many sawmills but by that time road
transport was in the ascendency and the tramway
were not used beyond the 1940s.
The sleepers and rails were made of local
timber although steel rails were used on the
busier sections and eventually on all lines
where locomotives were introduced. The trees
were cut with axes and cross-cut saws. The logs
were prepared then relayed to the landings
beside the tramway by big steam winches beside
the track. Placed on carriages they were taken
to bush sawmills then along the tramway to the
main rail lines at Powelltown or Warburton.
The Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 devastated
the area, particularly at High Lead and The
To access the picturesque La-La Falls, follow
the signs from Park Rd (opposite the Sanitarium
Factory) along Old Warburton Rd to the start of
the track on Irruka Rd (about 1 km from
Warburton). It is a 3.2-km return walk through
ferny glades and tall mountain ash forest.
Two lengthy trails lie a short distance from the
East Warburton bridge. On the eastern side of
the bridge turn right into Riverside Drive.
After 500 metres there is a left turn into Big
Pats Creek Rd. After about 2 km you will come to
a tiny settlement and, to the left, a picnic
area beside Big Pats Creek, named after a local
goldminer of old.
This treed area has barbecue facilities and
is the starting point of the Walk Into History,
the Upper Yarra Track and Richards Tramline.
Richards Tramline (7-km one way) heads east from
Big Pats to Braham Rd passing through the
Mississippi Creek Valley.
The Walk Into History and Optional Extras
This 33-km, two-day walk passes through some
well-preserved sections of the historic timber
tramline, past old mills and other relics of the
early timber industry, to Powelltown. A map of
the area is essential and there are some creek
The first section (9 km) follows the ascent
of the Federal tramway, built in 1933, from Big
Pats Recreation Area to Starlings Gap. The bush
workers used to walk this section on Sunday
evenings so as to be ready for work at Starlings
Gap on Monday morning. Some ran back to Big Pats
Creek on a Saturday for the football match. The
two sawdust heaps along the route mark the sites
of two sawmills. Starlings Gap is a good place
to rest or camp overnight (there are fireplaces,
toilets and tables).
The next section (8.8 km) passes through the
Ada River Valley. 7.5 km along this route is a
tramway junction which presents three choices:
(a) head north to the New Ada Mill (2.8 km
return) (b) head east to the Federal Mill (4.3
km return) or (c) continue south along the Walk
Into History to the Ada No.2 mill, cross the Ada
River and ascend to Doweys Spur Rd.
The third section (4.6 km) ascends to Doweys
Spur where a winch once hauled the log bogies to
the summit. The track then drops 415 m in
altitude over a distance of 1600 m on what is
known as High Lead. At the bottom of the decline
it follows Big Creek (note the myrtle beeches)
south-east for 1.4 km. An option at this point
is to watch for the sign which indicates the
start of the Latrobe River Walk (8 km return)
which follows the tramway eastwards along the
Latrobe River to the Latrobe River Camping Area
where an overnight stay is a possibility.
If, instead, you wish to follow the main
track, cross the Latrobe River and follow it
southwards for 1 km to the High Lead carpark on
the Powelltown-Noojee Rd. The sawdust heap is
the only remnant of the community of Nayook West
which consisted of 150 people in the 1920s.
From the High Lead carpark it is 4.2 km along
the Latrobe River to The Bump, a ridge which
separates the Latrobe River Valley from the
Little Yarra River Valley. As the gradient was
so steep a winch was originally placed atop the
ridge to haul the log bogies up and down the
highest point. In 1925 a 313-metre tunnel was
blasted through The Bump. It was sealed for
safety in World War II though the entrances are
The last section is a leisurely 6.3-km walk
west along the Little Yarra River to Powelltown.
Ada Tree Circuit
The highlight of this stroll through myrtle
beech rainforest is the Ada Tree (an ancient
mountain ash) which is one of the largest known
flowering trees in the world. Thought to be over
300 years old it is 76 m tall with a
circumference of 15 m. The walk starts from the
carpark and picnic area on Ada River Rd (12 km
north of the Powelltown-Noojee Rd). From the
carpark follow Island Creek to the tree and
return along the same route. More information on
this walk can be obtained from the Warburton
Waterwheel Visitor Information Centre, telephone
5966 9600 or Dept of Sustainability &
Environment at Powelltown, telephone 5966 7203.
The Upper Yarra Walking Track
If you have followed the Walk into History from
Big Pats past the Federal Mill to the Ada River
Rd carpark, you have embarked on the first stage
of the 81-km Upper Yarra Walking Track, which
follows the Ada River Rd northwards a short
distance from the picnic area before heading
east again to Baw Baw National Park (there
joining up with the Alpine Walking Track,
allowing you to walk right through to Canberra).
The highly scenic Acheron Way (36 km) starts 1
km east of Warburton and heads north to St
Fillans on the Maroondah Highway near
Marysville. The densely forested, mountainous
route offers views of Mt Victoria, Ben Cairn and
Mt Donna Buang.
8 km north along Acheron Way, at the
intersection with Donna Buang Rd, is a spot
known as Cement Creek where there is a
rainforest boardwalk circuit and a raised
platform which allows visitors to view the
canopy of a two-to-three-hundred-year-old forest
at an elevation of some 30 metres.
Mount Donna Buang Scenic Reserve
If you turn left at Rainforest Gallery onto
Donna Buang Rd it will lead you to Mt Donna
Buang (1250 m). The closest snowfield to the
state capital, it is a popular day-trip
destination with Melburnians. The main
activities are tobogganing and sightseeing
(there is a lookout tower with excellent views
of the Yarra Valley, the Dandenongs, the
Cathedral Ranges, Mt Buller, Mt Baw Baw and
Melbourne). Accommodation and toboggans are
available at Warburton though they can also be
hired from the mountain. In summer there are
lookouts, walks and wildflowers aplenty. There
is no public transport to the site. The cost, in
winter, is $5 per car per day. Ring the
Department of Natural Resources and Environment
at Woori Yallock for further information and
reports on snow conditions, tel: (03) 5964 7088.
Barbecue facilities, toilets and parking are
available at the summit and Ten Mile Turntable.
A 1.2-km walk joins these two points. There is
also a 3-km walk to Cement Creek which partially
follows an old timber tramway parallel to Cement
Creek. Another 7-km walk follows the ridgeline
through some lovely myrtle beech groves and
mountain ash forest to Acheron Gap.
At Mt Donna Buang the Healesville Rd (or Ben
Cairn Rd) branches westwards. After about 7 km
it passes a small carpark which is the start of
an 800-m walk to Ben Cairn (1041 m) from whence
there are outstanding views.
Mt Victoria Walk
A very steep and rather slippery 7-km walking
trail leads from a point just east of the
Warburton Golf Club to Mt Victoria (1106 m above
Little Peninsula Tunnel Picnic Ground, Big
Peninsula and Upper Yarra Goldfield Walk
About 14 km east of Warburton on the Upper Yarra
Reservoir Rd there is a signposted turnoff to
the Little Peninsula Tunnel Picnic Ground. There
are barbecue facilities and a short walk to the
Little Peninsula Tunnel which was created to
alter the course of the river in the goldmining
era so that the prospectors could scour the
river bed. The Big Peninsula is about 3 km
further along the road.
The Upper Yarra Goldfield Walk to McMahons
Creek (12 km) is a loop track which passes some
remnants of 19th-century goldmining activities,
including the tunnel, some water races, open-cut
mines, mine shafts and small dams. The track
starts a short distance west of Big Bills Creek
on Peninsula Rd where parking is available.
Upper Yarra Reservoir Park
The Upper Yarra Reservoir is located 25 km
north-east of Warburton in Yarra Ranges National
Park. It is located in the Yarra Ranges National
Park. 1 km inside the park boundary is a Parks
Victoria office which can furnish you with
information relating to the area's walking
tracks, such as the short Fern Gully Trail.
There is also an excellent lookout and a
five-star camping ground, tel: (03) 5968 8566.
There is no boating on the lake.
Just before the turnoff into the park is the
old gold town of Reefton and the historic
Reefton Hotel at McMahon's Creek.
Warburton Forest Drive
The Warburton Forest Drive (47 km) starts at the
Information Centre and covers some sites already
mentioned in the walks above. Follow the highway
east, turn right into Kellys Rd just before the
bridge over the Yarra River, following Riverside
Drive. Turn right into Big Pats Creek Rd then
continue south on Smyth Creek Rd to Starlings
Gap. From here you can head east along Big Creek
Rd then turn right into Ada River Rd, past the
start of the Ada Tree Circuit Walk.
Alternatively, from Starlings Gap, continue on a
short distance then turn right into Blacksands
Rd, turn right up Mt Bride Rd then right into
Brittania Creek Rd which follows an old tramway
past Brittania Creek Falls (the 'Brittania' was
a small shack wherein a former midshipman sold
liquor in the gold days). Brittania Creek Falls
Rd continues on to the Warburton Highway. Turn
right back to town.
Yarra Valley Winery Tours offer personalised
tours for travellers, social, business and
conference groups which include lunch, wine
tastings at Yarra Valley wineries, a pick-up and
return service and an on-board tour host, tel:
(03) 5962 3870. Ballooning over the valley is
conducted by Go Wild Ballooning (tel: 03 9890
0339) and Balloon Aloft, tel: 1800 028 568.