- Rail Trail
- A high standard rail trail with interpretive signs at station sites. It 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, the only section of the Outer Circle to remain in use. There are many busy road crossings, but most have lights
- It is possible to access many sections using public transport
- Numerous locations to refresh with drinks and food
- Combine with the impressive Djerring Trail beneath Sky Rail when you get to Hughesdale
- Riversdale Park, Camberwell, has play equipment and facilities
- Hartwell Railway Station was transported from Walhalla and renovated. Walhalla now has a replica of the original!
- Ferndale Trail runs west from Ashburton to the Gardiners Creek Trail
Last updated: 11 November 2023
The trail can be enjoyed in various bite-sized pieces. Car parking can be limited and generally requires using side streets or railway stations. There are water fountains, toilets and bike repair stations at regular intervals.
For public transport options go to ‘GET AROUND’ below
This description covers the trail travelling southwards, away from Melbourne.
Fairfield to East Camberwell (8km)
- The corridor starts east of Fairfield Railway Station, which is on the Hurstbridge line. There is a short section of concrete path along Railway Place, but that soon peters out as this section is yet to be re-developed as part of the trail. From Heidelberg Rd the rail trail proper starts beside the Chandler Hwy. Between here and the Yarra River is the former Australian Paper Mills site, which used a section of the Outer Circle track as a siding. Here a lot of urban renewal is underway, so the view will change regularly.
- The Yarra River Railway Bridge is a real feature. Built by Sir John Monash as a young engineer, it was converted into a two-lane road bridge after the railway closed and went on to become one of Melbourne’s most congested arterials. A six-lane road bridge opened to the south of it in 2020 and the former railway bridge finally became the rail trail bridge. It has many interesting architectural features, including portholes to the river below. On the south side of this bridge are connections with the Main Yarra Trail heading east and west.
- There follows a narrow and noisy shared path over the Eastern Fwy and the start of the “Anniversary Trail” section. It’s a long ascent next to the former formation (minus trestle bridge) up to High St, Kew East. Cross at the lights to get through busy Harp Junction, where the train underpass has been filled in. The trail is now a “proper” rail trail again, on the alignment of the railway. Until it passes under Canterbury Rd, the trail is in a deep cutting for 1km – a somewhat hidden zone of tranquillity in the eastern suburbs. This section is particularly busy before and after school, so don’t expect tranquillity at those times.
East Camberwell to East Malvern (7km)
- The trail passes through a substandard section in Boorondara Park and then goes under the Belgrave/Lilydale Line near East Camberwell Station. From here the trail is well away from the rail alignment for a while and, at Prospect Hill Rd, it even winds around a hockey venue. It then heads past the working Riversdale, Willison and Hartwell stations. It runs beside the Alamein line but undulates. The next crossing, at Toorak Rd, can be very busy, and has an extremely steep (but fortunately short) descent. Cafes here, or at High St, are a good place to stop for refreshment.
- The end of the working line is reached at Alamein Station and a very picturesque stretch starts with old railway catenary poles carrying high-voltage wires overhead for the suburban network, although there were never electric trains running on this section! The Anniversary Trail section ends at the Gardiners Creek Trail intersection. Once a long timber trestle bridge crossed the creek’s floodplain at this point. After crossing Gardiners Creek, the trail runs through Malvern Valley Public Golf Course.
- Stick carefully to the trail and, at the golf tees, head south to get back on the original alignment (the Gardiners Creek Trail keeps heading towards the CBD). Use the shared-use bridge to cross the Monash Fwy and Glen Waverley line. The Outer Circle meets the Scotchmans Creek Trail here, which you could follow east all the way to Jells Park.
East Malvern to Hughesdale (2km)
- Make your way carefully through the East Malvern station carpark and cross Waverley Rd. After Waverley Rd the trail passes through the Urban Forest (enter from the carpark on the left or stay on the bitumen trail to the right), once the site of Waverley Rd Station. This is a beautiful, native-bush park with several paths running in parallel and features the only unsealed section of the Outer Circle. Keep an eye out for Pobblebonk frogs.
- Head south to busy Dandenong Rd/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. Wonder why the pedestrian crossing is so far away. The trail passes through Boyd Park before ending at impressive Hughesdale Station, on the Dandenong line’s Sky Rail section with Djerring Trail underneath. You can start from this end of the Outer Circle (look for the Boyd Park sign) and head towards town, a very popular option.
You can cycle all the way from Kew to Elsternwick by combining the Outer Circle and Rosstown rail trails for a total distance of 25km.
Yarra River Railway Bridge looking south, a real feature of the trail 
The Outer Circle connects with the Yarra Trail running under the bridge 
The paper mill chimney in the background has been demolished 
The rail corridor from Fairfield station needs a proper path 
Typical parkland along the way, here the Outer Circle Linear Park in Kew 
This community garden is near the site of Willesmere station 
The trail south of Whitehorse Rd, Deepdene, going into cutting 
Near Mont Albert Rd, the cutting is a good place to beat the heat 
Near Roystead station site, with Canterbury Rd 500m further south 
End of the deep cutting at Rubens Grove. before Shenley station site 
Passing under Canterbury Rd, where cutting was partly filled in (2020)
Watch the kerbs on the path in Boroondara Park, East Camberwell (2020)
Street section between East Camberwell and Hartwell stations 
The Hartwell Railway Station was transported from Walhalla (2020)
Having a break opposite Burwood station, a good spot to start 
The trail near Ashburton undulates as it shadows the operational line 
At Ashburton Railway Station, you mix it with the commuters 
The Alamein to Gardiners Creek section still has overheads in use 
The Black Bridge over the Gardiners Creek floodplain [a long time ago]
The Urban Forest in East Malvern was once a goods yard on the line 
There are at least three bicycle repair stations along the rail trail 
Near Hughesdale station, Boyd Park has play equipment 
The rail trail connects to the Djerring Trail at Hughesdale station 
The impressive Hughesdale station at the end of the rail trail 
Fairfield Station is near the start of the trail on Metro’s Hurstbridge train line, which has regular services. If you make it to the other end or want to start at the southern end, you can catch the train at Hughesdale on the Cranbourne/Pakenham lines. If you are walking, there are many opportunities for shorter legs using tram services. As always, bicycle carrying restrictions apply.
Refer to the PTV web page for map and timetables, or use the navigation app of your choice.
Do you know of a bike hire or transportation service on this rail trail that should appear here? If so, let us know at email@example.com.
We acknowledge the Woiworung people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.
In the late 1880s land boom, a railway line was built through the then outer eastern suburbs. It was supposed to link the Gippsland line with Spencer St (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).
A proposal to bridge Toorak Rd for the Outer Circle Rail Trail is back on ...More...