Another way to visit the Warburton Redwoods
Sunday 6 August, 2023
The Cement Creek Redwood Forest, fondly known to many as ‘the Warburton Redwoods’, is an enchanting forest in the Yarra Ranges National Park, on Wurundjeri Country.
Its towering Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) trees, standing at up to 55 meters tall and planted closely together in uniform, make it a unique and popular place among locals, day trippers and international visitors alike. Visitors can wander beneath the canopy of these giants and find a moment’s peace in the quiet and still of the forest, relax on the surrounding lawn with a picnic, or venture down to Cement Creek and explore the site’s native flora and fauna.
However with recent works to upgrade the connecting Cement Creek Road Bridge, the forest currently cannot be accessed via Cement Creek Road – by car or on foot.
But did you know the Redwoods are still open to visitors? If you’re up for a bit of a walk (or bike ride), you can make the journey along the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail from Yuonga Road Car Park. With the current bridge closure, you can avoid the crowds typically seen in autumn, spring and during the school holidays, and be rewarded with the unique and serene experience of exploring the beautiful Redwoods with only a handful of people around.
It’s a 16km round trip (a little over 8km each way) which will lead you along the historic open-channeled aqueduct through cool fern gullies, alongside the bubbling waters of creeks and tributaries, and across mountain ridges with spectacular views of surrounding valleys and ranges.
Here are our tips to getting the best out of this beautiful hike.
Step 1: Be prepared
The O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail is an unsealed and undulating track, with some steep inclines in sections. Depending on your pace and fitness level, it will take approximately two hours each way when walking at a reasonable pace.
During the colder months it can be muddy and slippery, and during the warmer months hikers are advised to be aware of snakes.
Note there are no toilets or drinking taps along the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail or at the Redwoods, so come prepared. Before you start, you can stop in town at Warburton to make use of the toilet facilities and stock up on any supplies.
Before you head out, make sure you’re wearing weather-appropriate clothing and closed-toe footwear (sturdy runners or hiking boots are recommended). Pack plenty of water and snacks to keep you sustained. Mobile phone reception is patchy (depending on your provider), so be sure to let someone know where you’re going.
Pictured above: The entrance to Yuonga Road Car Park.
Step 2: Head to the Yuonga Road Car Park
From the main street of Warburton, continue through town along Warburton Highway towards the Yuonga Road Car Park. It’s about 2.7km from the Warburton Waterwheel Visitor Information Centre, or a five-minute drive. Take a left turn at Donna Buang Road, and another left at Yuonga Road. The car park entrance is on your left (as pictured above).
Pictured above: Wayfinding signage at Yuonga Road Car Park.
Step 3: Follow the wayfinding signage
From the car park you’ll see the entrance to the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail. Parks Victoria has recently installed wayfinding signage along the trail to help visitors navigate their way to the Redwoods safely. At the entrance you’ll see wayfinding signage directing you to take a left and head towards the Redwood Forest. Don’t forget to take a minute to appreciate the stunning views as you head off on your journey.
Pictured above: As you begin your walk from the Yuonga Road Car Park, you’ll find spectacular views across the surrounding mountain ranges.
Step 4: Take in the tall forests
Once you’re on your way, it won’t be long before you find yourself amongst the towering Mountain Ash gums and lush Tree Ferns. Take a moment to breathe it in – this part is just as special as the Redwood Forest itself! Listen out for the piercing call of the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo or Kookaburras having a laugh in the treetops above. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a Lyrebird or wallaby.
Pictured above: The O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail will lead you through the tall forest of Mountain Ash gums and Tree Ferns. To the left of the path, you can see a structure covered in vegetation. This is the edge of the open-channelled aqueduct.
Pictured above: Concreting the aqueduct circa 1912. Images: Val Smith, Upper Yarra Historical Society and Muesum.
Step 5: Keep an eye out for the history
The O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail is actually quite historically significant. If you don’t look closely you might miss it, but the track itself follows the decommissioned open-channelled aqueduct, which during the early-mid 1900s was a key piece of infrastructure in Melbourne’s water supply system. The aqueduct is a great example of the technology and materials used in the early 20th century as Melbourne expanded its water supply system to meet the needs of a fast-growing population.
The Cement Creek Plantation in Warburton (which includes the Redwood Forest) was added to Victorian Heritage Register due to its aesthetic, historic and scientific significance in April 2023. During the 1920s and 1930s, the plantation was a site of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works’ scientific program to find new ways to purify water in catchment areas that had been degraded through decades of farming, fires and logging of native forests. Comprising of approximately 1,500 trees, it’s one of the largest scientific plantations of the twentieth century in Victoria. You can read more about it here.
Pictured above: Wayfinding signage is installed at key points along the track to help you find your way to the Redwoods.
Step 6: Stay on track!
Along the way you might find yourself totally enthralled by the immense beauty of the Yarra Ranges National Park – we wouldn’t blame you. But don’t forget to keep an eye out for the wayfinding signage. These signs are installed at key points along the trail and will help you stay on the right track to get to the Redwoods.
Pictured above: The main plantation of Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) trees in Plot 1 at the Cement Creek Plantation.
Step 7: Arrive at the Redwoods and explore
When you arrive at the Redwoods, you’ll reach a fork in the track that doesn’t have a sign to tell you which way to go. Both will guide you to the Redwoods, but if you take a right you can start at the car park and make your way down through the forest, which is a truly magical experience.
Upon entering the plantation, you’ll notice that the forest is significantly quieter. This is partially due to the fact that few native birds or animals are attracted to non-native conifers. The close planting of the trees, and the thick Redwood bark, also work to absorb sound.
The main plantation of Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) trees in Plot 1 (pictured above) are the most popular to explore. But for nature lovers and botany enthusiasts, be sure to check out the surrounding plots which include other species of conifers including Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) and Bishop Pine (Pinus muricata).
Cement Creek runs through the north of the site, and is a lovely place to sit and listen to the bubbling waters and take in the beauty of the native plants, animals and birdlife of the surrounding Yarra Ranges National Park.
To the far east of the site is an open grassy area; the perfect spot to spread out and have a picnic in the sun (if the weather is kind). Please be sure to take your rubbish home with you.
Step 8: Hike home, and treat yourself to something delicious in town
As you’re exploring the beauty of the Redwoods, don’t forget to save enough energy in the tank to make the two hour hike back to the car.
By the end of the day, you’ll probably find you’ve clocked up a pretty impressive step count, and maybe an even bigger appetite! Warburton has a variety of delicious bakeries, cafes and takeaway shops to choose from, so you can have a good feed before you start the car ride home.
For more information about the Cement Creek Redwood Forest and the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail, including up-to-date visitor information, head to the park page on the Parks Victoria website.