A charming remnant of bushland on the edge of Greater Melbourne
Historically Warrandyte was a quiet, rural village which developed after a brief goldrush in the 1850s. Today it is an outer suburb of Melbourne situated on the Yarra River and surrounded by the bushland of Warrandyte State Park. It has always been a home to artists and craftspeople and in recent times it has become a popular daytripper destination where walking in the State Park and wandering through the chic village are pleasant ways to spend a weekend.
Warrandyte is located 33 km from the Melbourne CBD via the M3. It is 112 m above sea-level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
It has been argued that 'Warrandyte' comes from a Wurundjeri Aboriginal word 'warin', meaning 'wombat', although other sources claim it meant 'to throw at a target' from 'warren' meaning 'to throw' and 'dyte' meaning the object being aimed at.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Relaxing Riverside Ramble Walking Guide
This easy and pleasant walk covers 4.7 km, takes around 90 minutes, starts in Stiggant Park and wanders along the banks of the Yarra River. A map and brochure can be downloaded from https://www.manningham.vic.gov.au/relaxing-riverside-ramble-walking-guide. The walk starts near where Webb Street reaches the Yarra, heads upstream past the site of the Warrandyte Punt (it operated from 1856-1863) and turns around, and heads back downstream, at The Island and the Stonehouse Cafe. On the route downstream it passes an old Wine Saloon at the Yarra Street roundabout, continues past the Warrandyte War Memorial, the Mechanics Institute (1928), an historic bakery which dates from the 1880s and the "Warrandyte Federation Playspace which was inspired by the town’s gold mining history and features a mineshaft, miner’s hut, gold wagon and tunnels. There is a sound post just next to the miner’s hut with some great sound effects on it—enjoyable for young and old. There is a ruin to one end that tells the story of Taffy, an ill fated local who never got to finish rebuilding his fire destroyed home and café." It concludes by passing the Grand Hotel (1896) and the Old Post Office Museum.
The Post Office Museum
The museum occupies the old Warrandyte Post Office at 111 Yarra Street which contains an extensive collection of photos and items pertaining to "gold, art, indigenous history and social history". It is open weekends and public holidays from 1.00 pm to 4.00 pm or by appointment, tel: (03) 9844 4176. Check out https://www.melbourneplaygrounds.com.au/warrandyte-historical-society-museum-warrandyte#.XXHDR5MzZBw.
Built on Gold - Warrandyte Historic Town Walk
This easy walk, which covers most of the places on the Relaxing Riverside Ramble, starts upstream from the Warrandyte Bridge over the Yarra River and continues in a circuit downstream and along Yarra Street. It covers 2.3 km and takes around an hour. The starting point is where there was once an old gold crusher which dated from 1897 (the timber footings are still visible in the river). It then passes the site of the Warrandyte Punt and makes its way down the riverbank to the remnants of the Coffer Dam (185os) and Grant's Battery to the Gospel Hall (1950s), the Old Post Office Museum, the Diary Tree (a Monterey Cypress), the Grand Hotel, the Sloan family butchers at 158 Yarra Street, the Mechanics Institute, the War Memorial, the old Wine Saloon, the story of Old Taffy, the Warrandyte Federation Playground and the historic bakery. It can be downloaded from the https://visityarravalley.com.au/activity/warrandyte page.
Building the Warrandyte Style - Historic Warrandyte Architectural Walk
This is a fascinating architectural history of the town. In 1939 the town was savaged by a serious bushfire. The outbreak of war resulted in a lack of builders and architects and two women, Alexa Goyder and Myrtle Houston, "hand built their houses using second hand leadlight windows, rough sawn timbers and masonry, often with local sandstone laid in the ‘random rubble’ style by Kevin Sloan who is also remembered on the walk." In 1952 the famous architect, Robin Boyd, whose father Penleigh Boyd had lived in the district, coined the term "Warrandyte Style" and described it as "…rubble stone with adobe blocks, vertical boarded walls, shed roofs, sudden studio-like windows — somewhat nostalgic bushlands atmosphere, plus plumbing.” The walk, a 2.7 km circuit (it takes around one hour) which begins at the Mechanics Institute in Yarra Street, includes a total of twelve places of interest in Brackenbury Street, Yarra Street and Russell Road. There is a map and detailed information on each location which can be downloaded at https://www.manningham.vic.gov.au/building-in-the-warrandyte-style-walking-guide.
The places of interest include:
1. 119-139 Brackenbury Street - Kevin Sloan owned 119 which demonstrates, in its use of cement blocks, how the locals built after the 1939 bushfire.
2. 151 Brackenbury Street - was built by Alexa Goyder in 1945 with stone retaining walls, recycled leadlight windows and native timber 'board and batten' walls.
3. 161 Brackenbury Street - the brochure explains this in great detail: "The process of building in stone is thousands of years old. Alexa and Myrtle Housten both loved how irregular shaped stones formed an artistic effect when closely fitted together. This style became known as ‘random rubble’. Myrtle built this house in 1940, in the local brown colour sandstone from Warrandyte. You can see the random rubble effect in the walls. Building in this style is a bit like building a stone jigsaw puzzle. It is slow work and requires a sculptor’s eye for the effect created by the shapes. You will notice random rubble used throughout Warrandyte; in walls, garden steps and terraces, monuments and footpaths."
4. 152 Brackenbury Street - an adobe mudbrick house built in 1960. Note the use of bluestone for the foundation and wooden shingles on the upper part of the walls.
5. 165 Brackenbury Street - Alexa and Myrtle built this house shortly after the 1939 bushfires using Mt Gambier limestone as a simple kind of fire proofing.
6. 32 Mullens Street - built by French sailor Joe Doutta in the 19th century with a chimney built by Alexa Goyder. It was originally a wattle and daub house.
7. 318 Yarra Street - built by Myrtle Houston with recycled steel windows. It is the front of 165 Brackenbury Street.
8. Riversong, 306 Yarra Street - part of this two storey homes was built by Alexa Goyder. Note the random rubble walls.
9. Sonnetswood, 300 Yarra Street - the brochure explains "This home is a magnificent example of Alexa at her finest. It was designed and built by herself, for herself. It was partially burnt by the 1939 fires, but she rebuilt. The home features the work of stonemason Kevin Sloan."
10. Random Rubble - the random rubble technique is displayed in the construction of the Historic Stonehouse and Pottery Cafe in Yarra Street.
11. 322 Yarra Street - this cottage was built by Willliam Hastings, a gold miner, in 1873. It is classified by the National Trust.
12. 2 Russell Street - - a Warrandyte cottage dating from the 1890s which was partially destroyed by the 1939 bushfire.
Other Attractions in the Area
Warrandyte State Park
Gold was first discovered on Anderson's Creek in 1851 by Louis Michel. It is thought to be the first gold strike in Victoria and was certainly the first goldfield in the Port Phillip District. Gold mining relics remain scattered throughout the park which exists in small pockets of bushland on both sides of the Yarra River. The park contains some of the few remaining remnants of natural bushland in the metropolitan area of Melbourne and is popular with picnickers, canoeists, bushwalkers, recreational swimmers, cyclists and birdwatchers. It is possible to see eastern grey kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, platypuses, wombats, marsupial mice, brushtail and ringtail possums, sugar gliders, snakes, wildflowers in springtime and many bird species such as the azure kingfisher, powerful owl, regent honeyeater (endangered in Victoria) and wedge-tailed eagles within the park's boundaries.
Walking in Warrandyte State Park
There are four main walking trails in the park:
(a) Pound Bend River Walk
(b) Jumping Creek Nature Walk
(c) Mt Lofty to Wittons Walk
(d) Gold Heritage Walk - Fourth Hill
(a) Pound Bend River Walk
The Pound Bend River Walk is 3.5 km and takes between 60-90 minutes. It departs from the Pound Bend Picnic Area and heads to the historic Pound Bend Tunnel. In 1870, the Evelyn Tunnelling and Mining Company dug through 145 metres of hard rock at Pound Bend to divert the Yarra through what is now known as the Tunnel. This left five kilometres of the old river bed exposed to dredge for gold. It is possible to follow the track upstream where it is possible to see koalas. Halfway through the walk the trail leaves the river and loops back up towards the road along a ridge. There are interpretative signs along the way. For a good map and more detailed information check out https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/315635/Park-note-Warrandyte-State-Park.pdf.
(b) Jumping Creek Nature Walk
The Jumping Creek Nature Walk is 2 km return and takes between 30-60 minutes. There are wood barbecues, a sheltered picnic area, a family walk, information boards, disabled facilities and swimming and canoeing opportunities. The entry gates are closed in the evening. The trail begins at the northern end of the Sandy Bay picnic area and follows the river for a short distance, travels along ridges and gullies, then winds through attractive forests before returning to the carpark. On the walk expect to pass through stands of box gums, peppermint gums, manna gums, burgan tea-trees, cherry ballart and stringybark. The area is home to Swamp Wallabies, Eastern Grey Kangaroos and wombats. For a good map and more detailed information check out https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/315634/Park-note-Warrandyte-SP-Jumping-Creek-Nature-Trail.pdf.
(c) Mount Lofty to Wittons Walk
Sometimes known as the Mount Lofty Hill Walk, the Manningham City Council brochure (which can be downloaded, with an excellent map, at http://www.victoriawalks.org.au/Assets/Files/18%20-%20A%20mighty%20view.pdf) describes the walk as one that "meanders through gums and tea-trees, over creeks and along the Yarra River before rising to the summit of Mt Lofty. Birdlife, riverside environment, bush tracks, exposed ridgeline and magnificent views are just some of the treats that await you - all to the gentle sound of the Yarra River." The walk is 5 km return, takes between 90-120 minutes and suitable for those who are fit and consider themselves advanced bushwalkers. The route crosses Bushy Creek, progresses beside the Yarra River, passes through burgen bushland, rises to the summit of Mount Lofty with its views to Mount Dandenong, Lilydale and Warrandyte, and descends back to the river.
(d) Gold Heritage Walk
There is a Parks Victoria brochure, complete with map, which can be accessed at https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/315633/Park-note-Warrandyte-SP-Gold-Heritage-Walk.pdf. It is a circular route which departs from the Whipstick Gully Car Park and includes nine places interest
1. Victory Mine
A suitable starting place with a number of information boards. The Victory Mine, originally called the Young Colonial, produced 1,870 ounces of gold between 1896-1899.
2. Fourth Hill Summit
At the Fourth Hill site there are a number of old mine shafts. There are also excellent wildflower displays in season.
3. Open Mines
These mines were originally worked by European miners. Later Chinese miners moved in to take the gold the Europeans had missed.
4. Johnson's Mine
A mine which produced no gold. Johnson tunnelled 60 metres into the hill and then turned left for another 20 metres. Neither tunnel passed through any ore.
5. Upper Monument Mine
A European built mine.
6. Miners Hut
Built in the 1950s with one wall made out of a tree trunk.
7. Monument Mine
The last working gold mines on the hill. They were still operating in the 1960s.
8. Memorial Cairn
A memorial to Louis Michel who, reputedly, was the first person to find gold in Victoria.
9. Geraghty's Mine
A impressive mine built by Patrick Geraghty with a tunnel which covered a distance of 130 metres. It even had a light tramway to bring the quartz to the surface.
A sealed and signposted road leads south to the Whipstick Gully car park. This reserve retains some old mining sites and relics such as the poppet head near the information shelter which provides details on the area's history. See https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/315635/Park-note-Warrandyte-State-Park.pdf for a map of the area.
Norman Reserve offers excellent views of the Pound Bend Tunnel entrance. There is a picnic area, a family walk and it is possible to canoe and swim in the Yarra River. It is also one of the few areas in the park where dogs on leads are permitted. See https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/315635/Park-note-Warrandyte-State-Park.pdf for a map of the area.
About 5 km along Jumping Creek Road is a turnoff into Dudley Road. This leads to Yarra Brae which is a more remote spot in the park. There are no facilities but some excellent views of the river and the surrounding terrain. This area is particularly beautiful and quiet.
Heidelberg School Artists Trail
Starting in Heidelberg and continuing into the Dandenong Ranges and to Yarra Glen, this route is designed to take visitors to the sites depicted in the paintings of those artists who were associated with the Heidelberg School (Arthur Streeton, Walter Withers, Louis Buvelot, Tom Roberts, Clara Southern, David Davies, Emanuel Phillips Fox, Charles Conder, Tudor St George Tucker, Eigene Von Guerard, May Vale and Jane Price).
It passes along the Yarra River, through Heidelberg, Bulleen, Templestowe, Eltham, Diamond Creek, Research, Warrandyte, passing through Ringwood and Montrose, en route to the Dandenongs and Kalorama, Olinda, Kallista and Upper Ferntree Gully.
At each such site there is a reproduction of the relevant painting which allows the visitor to see artist's interpretation of the landscape and to observe how the landscape has changed since the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
There are explanatory signs at Warrandyte:
28. Clara Southern, A Cool Corner, 1918
29. Clara Southern, Warrandyte Hotel, 1910
30. Clara Southern, Evensong, 1900
31. Walter Withers, Old Bridge, Warrnadyte
* The Wurundjeri Aborigines occupied the area prior to European settlement.
* James Anderson established a run here in 1839 after overlanding cattle from Sydney. Thus the area became known as Anderson's Creek.
* An Aboriginal reserve of 445 ha was established in 1841 at Pound Bend now in Warrandyte State Park.
* Victoria's first gold was discovered by Louis Michel at the junction of Anderson's Creek and the Yarra River in 1851.
* The novelist Henry Kingsley is thought to have worked for a time at the goldfield.
* The townsite was surveyed in 1856. An Anglican school was opened that year.
* In 1856 a punt was established across the Yarra River at Warrandyte.
* A local post office was opened in 1857.
* A bridge replaced the punt in 1861.
* The bridge was washed away by a flood in 1863.
* A second bridge was built in 1875.
* A local court house was opened in the late 1870s.
* A Mechanics Institute was opened in 1882.
* The Grand Hotel was opened in 1896.
* Warrandyte became an artists' colony in the late 19th century. Clara Southern,Penleigh Boyd and Jo Sweatman all settled in the area.
* In 1908 the name of the settlement changed from Andersons Creek to Warrandyte.
* A new Mechanics Institute was built in 1927.
* A severe flood caused considerable damage to the village in 1934.
* The Black Friday bushfires of 1939 destroyed 168 houses in the district.
* In 2014 three houses were destroyed by bushfires.^ TOP
Information Warrandyte is located in the Warrandyte Community Centre, 168 Yarra Street, tel: (03) 9844 3082 or check out http://www.informationwarrandyte.org.au. It is open 10.00 am - 4.00 pm Monday - Friday.^ TOP
The official site is part of the Yarra Valley information. Check out https://visityarravalley.com.au/activity/warrandyte.^ TOP