Here’s a great walk or good mid-range ‘taster’ run that treats you to all the major delights of the Warburton township: riverbank settings, the historic Aqueduct perched high above and its impressive fern walls, views over Warburton Valley, and plenty of native bushland.

The loop circuit takes runners first out west on a riverbank run toward the town entrance and golf course. Crossing the river on Mayer Bridge, it heads back towards town before turning off and up a short, pinchy climb which also happens to be one of the Southern Hemisphere’s steepest residential streets.

The route turns to trail before greeting the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail. Carved into the mountainside and flat-lining along its contours, this trail was once the access road for maintaining the conduit for one of Melbourne’s main water supplies, an open concrete aqueduct built between 1911 and 1914. Today it makes for a wonderful, mostly flat, run, walk or ride from Don Valley all the way out to O'Shannassy Weir, with Warburton placed roughly halfway.

As you run east, you’ll cruise past peaceful and tranquil mountain ash that stand like tall sentinels and in front of walls of tree ferns, maybe spying a few lyrebirds, for which the Warburton Valley is famous. Remember that the Aqueduct Trail is shared-use, be aware that you may come across walkers, riders, and horse-riders in addition to other runners.

Reaching the eastern end of town and just before crossing the Donna Buang Rd, the route hops off the Aqueduct Trail, linking a short roadside stretch back to riverside trails that will sweep you back into the township.



TrailHigh-Low Aqueduct & River Walk
Grade (if available)Walk: Moderate
Run: Moderate TrailScore technical Blue 23/45, TrailScore general Blue 5/10
StartWarburton Main street
FinishWarburton Main Street
Distance8 km (return)
Ascent228 m
Descent222 m
Max Elevation290 m
FeaturesFeatures of the historic aqueduct including giant fern walls and historic water race, hard-packed aqueduct trail; native bushland, a short but beefy hill climb, views of the Warburton Valley, famous Swing Bridge
FacilitiesToilets: Warburton township
Car parking: Warburton township
NotesCan be undertaken all year though in winter be prepared for cold temperatures and mud puddles

Walk / Run it

  1. You can begin this run by hopping on the loop anywhere in Warburton, and the run can be done in both directions. We begin from near the famous Swing Bridge and the Main St and head clockwise in order to complete the one big climb early in the run.
  2. From the Main St, head west towards the Melbourne-end town entrance (i.e. downstream). You will pick up a gravel footpath to the rear of the car park found at the rotunda adjacent to the tennis courts, near the Swing Bridge.
  3. Follow the riverside path approx. 700m beyond the rotunda, leading behind The Patchwork tearooms to Mayer Bridge.
  4. Cross Mayer Bridge, keeping right. Reaching Dammans Rd, pick up the trail alongside the riverbank and run upstream.
  5. The trail follows parallel to the river and Dammans Rd for approx. 400m. Looking to your left, find Martyr Rd, which shoots steeply up the mountain flank, and take a deep breath. It's a 450m / 603m vertical ascent climb to the top.
  6. Even better, as you reach the top, veering off the road (which sweeps to the right) to take the signposted Donna Buang Walking Track, which after a short dip into a gully, offers another 660m / 97m vertical ascent before popping out on the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail.
  7. Time to relax – for the next 1.8km, you only have a total of 9m of ascent. Basically flat! So put yourself into cruise control (unless your training schedule demands some tempo!), and walk or run easily until you reach the top of Yuonga Rd, at 4.4km, about half way through this run. Stop for a breather and to admire the views over town.
  8. From here there is a roadside sidling section as you trot down Yuonga Rd, past the rear of the old hospital, to meet Donna Buang Rd. Continue on down, being mindful of traffic and slim verges.
  9. You will reach the Warburton Hwy shortly. Continue on west back towards the town centre. After passing a retirement home on your right, you will cross a bridge over the Yarra River. Here, turn right and pick up the trail on river left, heading downstream.
  10. Ahhh, back to singletrack. This trail is quite the stunner as it flows back toward the mountainside, with great views of the fern walls on the riverbank opposite.
  11. The trail will curl around and eventually funnel you to a bridge intersection. Here you can choose to stay river left or cross over and continue downstream on river right. For this guide we cross over.
  12. Path chosen, follow the singletrack as it sticks to the river’s contours all the way back in to town.
  13. Once you hit the Swing Bridge, hook back over the river and towards the Main St.


As described you can run this loop in either direction. You can also extend the distance by running out-and-back sections in either direction on the Aqueduct Trail.

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