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Monday, July 27, 2009

Exploring the O'Shannassy River

On Sunday July 26, 2009, I visited Melbourne Water's O'Shannassy River Catchment region, east of Warburton, about 70 km east of Melbourne.

My 5 km exploratory hike started at the closed gate on the Wood's Point Rd, crossing the bridge over the Yarra, then along Management Road 1.

Walkers are now permitted to use Road 1, which leads to the O'Shannassy Reservoir, about 7 km further north.
Following Rd 1, about 2 km from the start, a junction is reached at Rd 17, also accessible to walkers, which leads to the O'Shannassy Lodge, about 1 km further on.

The O'Shannassy River is crossed not far from this junction, and my turnabout point was about 500 m towards the Lodge Complex. On the return, I made a short side track through a Melbourne Water gate down to the O'Shannassy River at the large firebreak.

Road 1 follows the O'Shannassy River Valley - the river may be glimpsed far down below at varuous points. There are good views of the Yarra at the bridge at Wood's Point Rd - the O'Shannassy River joins the Yarra at this point.

Secretive and secluded, the Lodge Complex is leased to Narconon, a drug treatment rehabilation organization based on the teachings of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. It was formerly the accommodation centre for workers employed on construction of the O'Shannassy Aqueduct, Weir and Reservoir in the period 1911 to 1914.

The Aqueduct was decommissioned in 1997, and the maintenance track is now a magnificient shared 28 km trail, which starts at Don Rd, near Wesburn, and ends at the O'Shannassy Weir.

The lodge is one of hundreds of properties managed by Parks Victoria on behalf of the Victorian public, but leased to companies and other groups in a bid to offload maintenance costs.

There is growing community concern as to why this commercial enterprise is permitted to operate, with proposals being offered that the Lodge Complex be made available to all members of the public for day or extended recreational or educational visits.

Public vehicle access is permitted only on Sundays, for patient visitors - the gate at Wood's Pt Rd is electronically controlled, and approved visitors need to key in a special code, undo two large padlocks, then open the heavy iron gates.

My visit also included a 3 km return hike easterly along the Aqueduct Trail, starting at the nearby Cement Creek Rd access point, and reaching the old maintenance huts. This is where water from the open aqueduct entered the syphon pipe system near the old Cement Creek Weir, and emerges about 1 km west of the Cement Creek access into the continuation of the open aqueduct.

See the full set of
Photos of my visit!

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