Amazing East Warburton

You ever go on a ride that leaves you thinking ‘OH MY GOD everybody needs to go ride that!!!’ This is one of those rides. If you’re based in Melbourne you’ve likely ridden the Lilydale to Warburton rail trail with it’s stunning views of the surrounding hills.

If you’re relatively new to exploring by bike and seeking a challenging ride through some stunning country, even more stunning views and the most primo gravel roads in Victoria – go ride this route! Stupid WordPress won’t let me embed the map here but click the link in the caption to view it properly.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/40251500

You could train to Lilydale and roll out to Launching Place but we drove out and parked at the (still not reopen) Home Hotel and started there. The ride kicks off on a cute section of the rail trail before heading into quiet backroads and turning on to the dirt of Brittania Creek Rd. From there it’s a long but gradual climb through the lush forest with Brittania Creek babbling along on your left for much of the way.

As I said above, if you’re reasonably new to exploring by bike, this route is a great introduction to some more remote-feeling and challenging riding. Yes, it’s a long climb but it’s super stunning and the surface is smooth and not sketchy at all. Pack snacks, make sure you have enough water and take a bunch of breaks if you need to, so many nice spots to stop and look around.

Once you reach the high point of the route at Starling’s Gap Campground (this would be a great, short overnighter with this as the evening parkup) it’s all downhill from here. I’m trying not to talk it up too much, but this might be the best gravel descent in Victoria. Maybe the world! Perfect surfaces, unbelievably good views across to Mount Donna Buang and it just seems to keeeeeep oooooonnn gooooiiinng until you finally reach Big Pats Creek at the bottom. From there it’s a short roll in to Warburton and some lunch on the river.

From there you have the choice of taking the rail trail back to Launching Place. Do yourself a favour though and take the O’Shannassy Aqueduct trail, especially if you’ve never ridden it. It’s a short, very steep climb out of Warburton to access it but it’s more than worth it. If you’re still feeling fresh you can take the trail north east out and back and visit the incredible Redwoods forest, otherwise follow the route for the most well groomed section of the trail. Unfortunately it seems like they’re never going to repair the damaged bridge on the trail and while the hike-a-bike detour is pretty fun, just take care cause it’s a bit sketchy.

You’ll exit the aqueduct trail onto the easy descent of Don Rd and wind through cute farmsland back to the start!

We’d love to hear what you think of this route of you do head out and if you’d like any other ideas just shoot us a message at the shop.

4 comments

  1. Looks speccy! I’ll have to add it to my list and make it a longer trip next time I’m down that way!!

  2. I did almost that exact ride up to Starlings Gap a few weeks back to test out my new bikepacking gear! It is indeed an absolutely beautiful part of the world but I was not prepared in the slightest for that climb with a fully loaded bike after cycling all the way from Lilydale first! Had to hike the last couple of kms because my legs just gave up.

    I literally took the exact same photo you did on the way down to Pat’s Creek from Starling Gap. Just absolutely picturesque!

  3. I convinced 12-year-old to give this route a try on the weekend. With the plan to overnight at Starling’s Gap.

    The gravel climb up Mount Myrtalia was a 2.5hr slog, with me at times hiking 2 bikes up > 10% gradient hills. Once we crested got rolling on the sweet downhill and somehow (I don’t even remember making a decision, probably just happy to be going downhill) turned the wrong way onto Blacksands rd. It was a couple of km before I realized and I think it may have permanently broken her if we’d had to backtrack back up the hill so we decided to keep descending and rode back to the car at Launching Place, drove home via Maccas, and slept in our own bed.

    The descent down Blacksands rd was A+ though. Hopefully, once she’s forgiven me we’ll give it another shot.

  4. Just got back from doing this over Kings bday long weekend. Was an epic ride! We split it over 3 days and planned to start and end at the end of the Lilydale train line. Made the classic mistake of not checking scheduled works so we got as far as Blackburn station. A hilly 24kms of urban bikepacking later we started on the Warby trail. The climb up to Mt Myrtalia was a slog on our two loaded bikes. Second mistake of the day was the same as comment above- missed the turnoff and wizzed down black sands road relieved we were on the way to the campsite! Except, no campsite to be found.. ended up freedom camping in a little nook just off the road and realised our mistake once we were settled in the tent.. next morning was a 7km slog back up the hill (470m climb) and then a fun blat down the hill on the other side towards Warburton. Ended up missing that epic gravel descent (third mistake of the trip) and took a motorbike track down instead – bit boggy but also a lot of fun! Stayed at an awesome little tiny house (would highly recommend) called the Canvas Barn B&B (if you’re looking on google maps). Fourth mistake was taking the aptly named ‘Backstairs track’ up to the accom from Warburton. 2km and 200m vert of hell. Just take the long way. Barry put on an epic stay for us though and it was well worth the effort. Our final day was a meander along the O’Shannassey trail and then back along the warby trail – a lovely round-off to an adventurous weekend! Luckily the trains were in full swing again too.

    Final stats for the trip:
    Day 1 – 81km, 1335m
    Day 2 – 27km, 744m
    Day 3 – 52km, 400m

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Commuter Cycles acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional custodians of the lands and waterways in the area now known as Brunswick, and pays respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as to all First Nations’ communities in Australia.