Burwood Walks #8: The Outer Circle

A John Monash Bridge
A John Monash Bridge

Our eighth walk will first visit a small section of the Back Creek Trail, then the Outer Circle Railway (the subject of a recent documentary). You can shorten this walk to end at Hartwell (4km walk), Willison (5km) or Riversdale Station (6km), and return to Burwood on the train. The whole walk is 8km (plus a 2km option).

Begin at Burwood Railway Station, Melway 60 D6. Tram travellers walk south from Stop 53 along Lithgow Street, turn right at the first roundabout and cross the tracks at the station.

Burwood Station (previously Hartwell) is part of the old Outer Circle Railway, which at its height ran from Fairfield to Oakleigh; now only the section from Riversdale to Alamein remains.

Walk south past a small group of shops (not along the rail trail) to the end of Bardolph Street. Turn right (west), cross Summerhill Road, then stroll gently downhill all the way to Back Creek, with shady trees and interesting weatherboard houses along the way. Back Creek (now underground) is a lovely, linear park. Turn right (north) through this park.

After crossing the first street, you are in for a surprise – the old creek bed can be seen (one of just two visible sections), and soon you find a concrete path beside the creek. After the path stops, walk south back into the large parkland area; then leave the park beside a red-brick fence, turning right, uphill. At Ruskin Road turn right (east), cross Toorak Road into Eddy Street; walk past a former Presbyterian Church, now a temple, and soon you will reach beautiful Fordham Gardens. Walk north-east through the park, and leave along Tyrone Street, walking gently uphill to Hartwell Hill Station (its old name). The station building actually came from Walhalla when that railway closed.

BW-08bCross the line, and turn left onto the rail trail, checking out the excellent information board. You are now on the Anniversary/Outer Circle Rail Trail, heading north. When you reach Frog Hollow Reserve, you will find a rest spot (playground, BBQ, toilets). Leave the rail trail after this spot and walk through the park, nearer to the railway line, to visit the next station, Willison, which is the fourth-quietest station in the whole suburban network! Cross the tracks and stay on the pathway into Stodart Street (the track nearer the railway disappears),then turn right (north) into Westbourne Grove.

After walking beneath the grove of tall cypresses, pause to admire the Riversdale Station signal box, one of just three staffed ones remaining (the others are at Kooyong and Gardiner).

Cross Riversdale Road, the railway and Spencer Road to enter Riversdale Park, another good rest spot (picnic area, playground, toilet).

From here, you can usually walk north through the Camberwell High School sports ground to Prospect Hill Road (if this is not possible, follow trail signs along Spencer Road). Look along this road to find the Anniversary Trail entrance.

Stay on this trail, passing under the Belgrave/Lilydale railway line, then through more leafy parkland and playground areas. Just before Canterbury Road the trail veers left to go beneath it. Canterbury Road has a bend in it at this point, because locals at the time (about 1889) forced the bridge over the Outer Circle Line to be built at that point. The engineer for this very sturdy brick-and-steel bridge was a young (22) John Monash. A seat just beyond this underpass is a good place to finish the walk, with cafés just to the east [see footnote].

To return to Riversdale Station, retrace your steps under Canterbury Road and walk for about five minutes to a right fork beside an old scout hall and a huge railway transformer building.

Use the subway under East Camberwell Station, and walk to the left of The Mews Aged Care. In 100m you will see a small path heading south, which will take you directly to the station; notice the chimney on the small building, which would have been cosy in the times of the Outer Circle Railway.

Footnote If you have time, a 25-minute level return walk will take you under three more bridges, as you proceed along this former railway line. The final bridge at Barnsbury Road was built to access just one property.

About Mark Learmonth 18 Articles
Mark is a retired Science and Chemistry teacher, who enjoys bushwalking and exploring public transport to access these walks. He has lived in Mount Waverley for about 40 years!