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Powelltown Tramway is a 43.5km, grade 3 One Way hike located in Melbourne Region Victoria. The hike should take approximately 2 days to complete.
Much of the trail is now overgrown and difficult to see on the ground let alone access. As a result we have listed it as zero km open but in actual fact It is 43.5 km in length.
2.8 km return to the site of the New Ada sawmill. The New Ada mill track leads north from the tramline junction. A few relics of the old mill can still be seen. Backtrack from the mill to the track junction.
4.3 km return along the Federal line to the New Federal mill. The track winds around the hill on an even grade, crossing one small stream before meeting the Little Ada River. Here is an excellent example of a make-up type of bridge, which differs from the trestle bridges encountered elsewhere on the walk. It was built of a series of horizontal layers of logs at right angles to each other which supported the road bed of the tramline, whereas the trestle bridge consisted of vertical piers to support the road bed.
In the early 1900s, the area around Powelltown was opened up by a network of tramways which carried logs from the mountains of the Upper Yarra and LaTrobe Valleys to the Warburton railway. The largest mill in the area, from which Powelltown takes its name, was operated by the Victorian Powell Wood Process Company. The company was formed in 1912 to exploit the new, and ultimately unsuccessful Powell method of wood preservation, which involved treating the timber with a mixture of molasses, water and arsenic.
The tramways kept close to creeks so they could maintain an even grade and there were many bridges. Sawn wooden rails were used on the earlier lighter lines, and in one place a tunnel cut though a hill. The forest trees were cut with axes and cross cut saws then winched on to the tramway with big steam winches set up beside the tracks. The tramlines declined in the 1930s depression. The 1939 bushfires devastated this area and meant sawmills were required to relocate to the edge of the forest. This, combined with increased truck traffic, caused the tramways demise. The 1983 Ash Wednesday fires again devastated this area.
Powelltown to East Warburton in Melbourne Region
East of Melbourne in the Upper Yarra region, 80km from Melbourne
For more information and a location map please visit RailTrails Australia.