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Outer Circle Rail Trail

Victoria - Melbourne region

4.3 based on 4 reviews
Location: Eastern suburbs, 6 km from Melbourne CBD
Length: 17 km
Surface: Asphalt, Concrete
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 RT
  • Other Trail
  • Former Railway
View Map
  • 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

Nearby Attractions

  • 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

Section Guides

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.

CONNECTING TRAIL

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.

Public Transport

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 admin@railtrails.org.au.

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4 reviews of “Outer Circle Rail Trail”

What Warwick said below. An awesome, long trail in the heart of Melbourne with many options for a coffee along the way. A few more signs would be helpful in places, however it is easy to navigate and not get too lost.

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 the end of the Outer Circle at Alamein.
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’s plenty of cafe options along the way.
Twenty trails now completed, only seven to go as part of my challenge to ride every rail trail in Victoria this 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 a rail trail. Though the trail passes through some of Melbourne’s denser suburbs, you don’t realise 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 bitumen or concrete 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 Rail Trail – but a change in the weather meant that wasn’t possible, and will have to wait for another day. All in all a great rail trail.

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 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).

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...
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