Our first walk this year featured the old Outer Circle Railway, going north from Burwood Railway Station. This walk, our eleventh, goes south from Burwood Station all the way to Hughesdale, where that line joined the Dandenong line. The walk as described is about 8 kilometres, but you can shorten it easily by starting at either Ashburton (saving 1.5km) or Alamein (2.5km) stations. Burwood Station is five minutes from Toorak Road tram stop 53 (Melway 60 D6), walking south along Lithgow Street, then right at the roundabout.
Start on the city side of the station, noting the little old weatherboard station building with its open-fire chimney on the opposite platform. Walk south between the shops and the railway along the Anniversary/Outer Circle Rail Trail; this track is very popular with cyclists too. As the path narrows you walk through a grove of both younger and older oaks, with lots of acorns beside the track. As you can see, this section of the old railway is still in use. After ten minutes, you cross over the curiously named “Dion Rail Link”, passing Summerhill Park on your right. Near Ashburton Station, after the tennis courts, take a right turn along Aitchison Avenue, then walk along either arm of the aptly named Y Street. Just before you reach High Street there is a laneway behind the shops on the right, which leads to a public toilet in the car park.
Return to the rail trail (left at High Street), continuing south. You will notice that the oaks are now replaced by plantings of mostly native trees. At Laurel Street there is an informal track running parallel to the rail trail, but giving a better view of Alamein Station. After that station, return to the trail, which really feels like an old railway embankment (because it is!). The signboard gives great historical information about Alamein, and this is a good rest spot. You cannot miss some of the infrastructure still in place. Keep an eye out too for the pink and yellow rocks, which are common in this area and over 400 million years old.
Twenty minutes from Alamein Station, you reach the end of the Anniversary Trail. Imagine the huge, wooden trestle bridge that once took trains across the valley ahead. Continue across the road, and gradually downhill along Gardiners Creek Trail, crossing Gardiners Creek, going south through the golf course and over the freeway and the railway line. Take care to stay on this route – there are several intersecting trails! Above East Malvern Station (where there are toilets), take the left (east) ramp down to the car park. At the bottom of this ramp, turn right and then left along a grassy strip just before leaving the car park. Walk past the block of units, then along the marked path beside an old tin shed and a humming power substation. Cross Waverley Road at the traffic lights and enter the bushy Urban Forest, and back to the old railway reservation, as referred to in the information panel, and brochures. There are various trails heading south through this linear park, a highlight of this walk. Look for native birds, nesting boxes and wildflowers.
As you approach busy Dandenong Road, you will see the “forest” continuing behind a post-and-rail fence. (There are traffic lights 100 metres to the west.) This last section of the trail has a well-defined concrete path, and the park becomes grassier as it proceeds past picnic facilities. Walk to the left of the playground to the next (much easier) crossing of Neerim Road, after which you will begin to hear the sounds of real trains, and to marvel at the huge eucalypts in Boyd Park. Not long after the mosaic pavement, you can exit onto a short street leading to Hughesdale shops, and to a public toilet in Euston Road.
The return to Burwood is quite easy – bus 767 (the stop on the western side of Poath Road) goes to the Burwood Highway tram at Station Street on its way to Box Hill. Check the timetable, and you may have time for a well-deserved cool drink.