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Outer Circle Rail Trail

Victoria - Melbourne region

3.2 based on 5 reviews
Location: Eastern Melbourne suburbs, 6km from Melbourne
Length: 17 km
Surface: Sealed
Start / End: Fairfield to Hughesdale
Public Transport: Bus, Train, Tram
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • Cycling – Touring and Hybrid BikesCycling – Touring and Hybrid Bikes
  • PramsPrams
  • Scooters and Inline SkatesScooters and Inline Skates
  • WalkingWalking
  • WheelchairsWheelchairs

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Potential Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • Former Railway
  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Potential RT
  • Other Trail
  • Former Railway
View Map
  • A high standard rail trail with informative history boards at former station site, which winds through a variety of suburbs and urban parkland.
  • From Kew to East Malvern it is also known as the Anniversary Trail.
  • Between East Camberwell and Alamein it runs beside the Alamein railway line. There are many busy road crossings, but most have lights.
  • It is possible to access many sections of the rail trail with public transport.

Nearby Attractions

Numerous locations to refresh with drinks and food

Combine with the impressive Djerring Track beneath the “Sky Rail” at Hughesdale.

Options

You can cycle from Kew to Elsternwick by combining the Outer Circle and Rosstown rail trails. Total distance: 25k

Last updated: 23 December 2022

The trail can be enjoyed in various sections.

Carparking can be limited and generally requires parking on side streets.

There are water fountains, toilets and bike repair stations at regular intervals.

Section Guides

This description describes the trail heading north to south.

From East Malvern to Kew it is also known as the Anniversary Trail.

Fairfield to East Camberwell (8km)

The corridor begins at the Fairfield railway station on the Hurstbridge line and there is a short section of path towards Heidelberg Rd but then deteriorates as this section is yet to be developed.

From Heidelberg Rd the rail trail proper starts beside the Chandler Highway and between here and the Yarra River is the former Australian Paper Mills site where a lot of urban renewal development is underway so the view here will change regularly.

The Yarra River bridge is a real feature. The railway bridge was converted to a two land road bridge when the railway closed and was one of Melbourne’s most congested roads until 2020 when a new six lane road bridge opened to the south and the former railway bridge became the rail trail bridge with many interesting features including portholes to the river below.

On the south side is the connection with the Main Yarra Trail underneath.

There is now a narrow and noise bike path over the Eastern Freeway and the start of the “Anniversary Trail” section. It’s a long ascent with the former formation to the right up to High St, Kew. At High St. Kew, cross at the lights to get through busy Harp Village junction.

The trail is now a “proper” rail trail again, on the formation of the former railway. Until it passes under Canterbury Rd the trail is in a deep cutting for several kilometres – a somewhat hidden gem of tranquillity buried in the eastern suburbs. This section is particularly busy before and after school so don’t expect tranquillity at these times.

East Camberwell to East Malvern (7km)

The trail passes through Boorondara Park then under the Belgrave/Lilydale Line at East Camberwell station.

From here the trail is well away from the rail alignment for awhile and at Prospect Hill Road it winds around a hockey club. It winds its way past Riversdale, Willison and Hartwell stations.

It then follows the alignment of the Alamein railway line but undulates. The next crossing, Toorak Road, can be very busy, and has an extremely steep (but fortunately short) descent. Shops here or at High St are a good place to stop for refreshment.

The end of the railway line is reached at Alamein station and a very picturesque starts with old railway catenary poles still carrying electrical wires overhead although there were never any electric trains in this section!

The “Anniversary Trail” now ends at the Gardiners Creek Trail intersection. Once a long timber rail bridge crossed Gardiners Creek at this point.

After crossing Gardiners Creek the trail runs through Malvern Valley Public Golf Course. Stick carefully to the trail and at the golfing tee-offs, head south to get back on the original alignment (the Gardiners Creek Trail keeps heading west).

Use the pedestrian and cyclist overpass bridge to cross the Glen Waverley Railway line and the Monash Freeway. The trail meets the Scotchman’s Creek Trail here, which you could follow to your right all the way to Jells Park.

East Malvern to Hughesdale (2km)

Make your way through the East Malvern station carkpark and cross Waverley Rd.

After Waverley Road the trail passes through the Malvern urban forest (enter from the carpark on the left or stay on the bitumen trail to the right of the reserve), once the site of the Waverley Road Station. This is a beautiful native bushland park with several trails running in parallel and is the only unsealed section of the trail.

Heads south to the busy six-lane Dandenong Road/Princes Hwy. Head west 200m to cross at pedestrian lights then follow the service lane to the east for 200m to rejoin the rail trail proper.

The trail passes through Boyd Park before ending at the impressive Hughesdale Station on the Dandenong railway line and the Djerring Track beneath the “Sky Rail”. You can also join in Boyd Park, very popular.

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5 reviews of “Outer Circle Rail Trail”

20/27. This is an old friend, having ridden along here for many years. As usual, we did this trail (AKA The Anniversary Trail) as part of a longer loop starting at Kew, crossing the Yarra at Fairfield, down the Merri Creek path, along the Main Yarra Trail to Gardiners Creek Trail, which then meets up with the end of the Outer Circle at Hughesdale.
It’s fully sealed, but has a few major road crossings. I love it as you ride through some of Melbourne’s most beautiful and expensive suburbs, and there plenty of cafe options along the way.
20 trails now completed, only 7 to go for my 2019 challenge is to ride every rail trail in Victoria this calendar year to promote organ donation. You can follow my rail trail exploits on FB Warwick Duncan – The 2nd Chance Man or Insta @warwick_rides.

I rode this trail yesterday (7th April 2015) – and it is a gem of rail trail. Though the trail passes through some of Melbourne’s denser suburbs, you don’t realize it given the quality of the parkland along the trail. Highlights for me were the Urban Forest in Malvern and the deep cutting through Canterbury. The trail is completely sealed the entire way, and there are a lot of people enjoying the parks – so it’s definitely for a leisurely ride, and not for racing. I was planning to incorporate the ride with the Rosstown Heritage trail – but the change in the weather meant that wasn’t possible, and will have to wait for another day. All in all a great rail trail.

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Background Information

Traditional Owners

We acknowledge the Woiworung people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.

Railway history

In the late 1880s land boom, a railway line was built through the then outer eastern suburbs. It was also supposed to link the Gippsland line with Spencer Street (now Southern Cross) station prior to the construction of the viaduct between Flinders and Spencer Street stations.

The line was opened in 1890. It operated in its entirety for only three years, being closed in stages between 1893 and 1895 as a result of the depression. The southern section was reopened as far as Ashburton in 1898 and was extended to Alamein in 1948. The section from East Camberwell to East Kew was reopened in 1900. The passenger service on this section was known as the Deepdene Dasher and was provided by a steam locomotive and two carriages. It was withdrawn in 1943.

The City of Boroondara offers a very comprehensive history of the Outer Circle Railway here.

A more recent history of this railway is in a City of Glen Eira news item (Nov 2020).

Outer Circle Bridge Plan

Posted: 19/12/22

A proposal to bridge Toorak Rd for the Outer Circle Rail Trail is back on ...

More...

Pedestrian Bridge Over Gardiner’s Creek Re-opened

Posted: 24/06/07

The pedestrian bridge across Gardiner's Creek on the Outer Circle Rail Trail has been closed ...

More...
Trail descriptions are maintained by volunteers. Please consider a donation to help improve this website. Rail Trails Australia gets no government funding.
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