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Monday, November 24, 2008

O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail - Dee Bridge Section

Now part of the Yarra Ranges National Park, the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail is a long, step-on, step-off 27 km walking/cycling/horse route starting at Don Rd, Launching Place, and ending at the O'Shannassy Reservoir, about 80 km east of Melbourne, near the town of Warburton.

The Aqueduct was constructed between 1911 and 1915, and decommissioned in 1997. The maintenance track, known as Road 18, has been opened up progressively for walkers, horse-riders and cyclists, following transfer of land ownership from Melbourne Water to Parks Victoria.

The Trail passes through magnificent Mountain Ash forest, past fern gullies, with excellent views across the Yarra Valley towards Mt Little Joe and the mountains near Big Pats Creek. It winds its way around the base of Mt Donna Buang, Mt Victoria and Ben Cairn, passing many aqueduct engineering works, bridges, syphons, huts, distance marker posts and old maintenance sheds.

New access gates for management vehicles, walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, with maps and interpretative boards, have been built at various locations along the route.

Sadly, there has been massive encroachment of vegetation, fallen trees, branches, and weeds in sections of the Aqueduct.

On November 23, 2008 I did a review exploration of about 4 km (return) of the section of the Trail, starting at the Dee Rd access point, adjacent to the fast flowing Dee River.

A car park, information board, and picnic tables have been constructed at this point, with splendid views across Warburton, the Yarra Valley, and beyond. Nice new gates have been installed, and some of the track surface has been upgraded with fine screenings.

East of the Dee Rd junction is the Dee Slip Bridge. This has been restored during 2008, and is the only timber trestle bridge on the system. It was built in 1947 following the collapse of the aqueduct. The force of the flow created a large hole in the side of the embankment beneath the aqueduct, and two separate trestle bridges now support the maintenance track and the aqueduct at this point. A section of the aqueduct immediately adjacent to the bridge collapsed again in 1991, the repairs to the channel are visible.

A series of concrete steps from the western end leads down to the base of the bridge, past the old maintenance shed.

Some of the management Roads in the area are prohibited to walkers, as they are located in the Melbourne Water catchment area - these are prominently signed, with gates. Walkers are advised not to venture along these tracks.

I was surprised at the increased popularity of this Track, with many walkers, cyclists and hounds enjoying the forest environment! I have completed 23 km of the full Trail - 46 km return, in several trips!

I consider this Trail to be one of the best near to Melbourne - it has everything! Full credit is extended to Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, and other authorities for the excellent work be in done with the upgrading of this beautiful trail.

A comprehensive set of Trail Notes, and detailed maps, may be downloaded from the Parks Victoria Web site:

The history and development of the aqueduct may be viewed at

Photo Articles of my walks along the other sections of the Trail may be viewed at

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