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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail - Don River section now open

Mt St Leonards seen from Malleson Lookout

Malleson Glen curved heritge bridge

O'Shannassy Trail - footbridge over Don River

Don River, from bridge on O'Shannassy Trail
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 Parrot Rd, near Woori Yallock, and ending at the O'Shannassy Weir, McMahon's Creek, about 80 km east of Melbourne, past the town of Warburton.

The Aqueduct, which includes some underground pipe and syphon sections, 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 and walkers 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.

I have completed the 25 km of the Trail - 50 km return, in several trips!

On Tuesday May 10, 2011, I explored the final section of the Trail to be opened, starting at the access point at the newly constructed crossing at Don Rd, Launching Place.

At this point, the Trail descends westerly on a stairway, then crosses a new footbridge over the Don River, and then reaches a crossing at Ewart's Rd. There is a small car park and access gate here. The Trail continues up hill for another 4 km to its end at Parrot Rd.

There is an informative display board and map at the Ewart's Rd car park.

See the Parks Victoria site for full details and maps:

I followed scenic Don Rd from its start at Healesville - the Trail crossing is about 4 km from Launching Place.

After leaving Healesville, Don Rd passes the Malleson Lookout at Panton's Gap, which offers interesting views across the Yarra Valley towards Mt St Leonards and the Yarra Ranges.

After leaving the Lookout, where there is an old "VP" marker post (meaning "View Point"), the road passes the Nyora Rd turnoff to Mt Toolebewong, then reaches the junction of the high-level Mt Donna rd (closed in winter). From there, the unsealed Don Rd winds its way down through rugged forest, arriving at Malleson's Glen and the heritage-listed curved wooden bridge, built in 1930.

The Glen is a beautiful fern gully on the Don River - it is adjacent to a property originally part of a larger area of land owned by a Melbourne solicitor named Malleson in the late 1890s.

Holly hedges and landscaping was done by Malleson, who made his property available to members of the public. Access was from the Healesville end.

Nowadays, the holly has gone wild and spread into the forest.

The land is now privately owned and is at the foothill of Ben Cairn.

In the 1880s, Malleson's Lookout was originally reached by foot, horse or wagonette from Healesville, along Malleson's Track.

Don Rd was built in the 1920s.

See all of the Photos of my "drive/hike" tour!

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