Outer Circle Railway

Outer Circle Railway

The Outer Circle was built during the Melbourne land boom of the 1880s. Money was no object, and greedy capitalists saw the Colony of Victoria as a valuable investment opportunity.

It was originally intended to bring goods trains into Melbourne from Gippsland. But after the State Government purchased the Melbourne & Hobson's Bay United Railway Company there was no longer a need to build the Outer Circle.

Today, the Outer Circle Railway is the Anniversary Bicycle Trail but it began as an ambitious rail line connecting the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne to the city.

Not that I knew it when I was growing up in East Kew, but I spent a lot of time playing in the remnants of the Outer Circle Railway. I doubt many people would realise the the wood depot still on the corner of High Street and Belmore Road originally served the days of steam trains.


The first section was opened was on 24 March 1890, from Oakleigh to Waverley Road, and on to Burnley. It was followed by the line from Waverley Road to Camberwell on 24 March 1890, and the Riversdale to Fairfield Park section on 24 March 1891.

Oakleigh to Burnley, change at Waverley Road for,
Waverly Road to Camberwell, change at Riversdale for,
Riversdale to Fairfield Park.

Outer Circle Railway Service

The railway never ran as one entire service from Oakleigh to the city. In fact it didn't go as far as the city. In Fairfield it met a line from Heidelberg which went as far as Collingwood. From there travellers could wait whilst the engine was unhooked and moved to the other end of the train, or take a cable car (tram). Trains were changed at Norwood (Ashburton) and Riversdale. To travel from Oakleigh to the city took 4 hours.

The track was used in its entirety for only 26 months with the Fairfield to Deepdene end closing first. Next to close was the Norwood to Oakleigh section. In fact 5 years after its construction, for a 12 month period, no trains operated on the railway at all. The depression of the 1890's meant that development in the outer areas of Melbourne was delayed.

Eventually the section between Ashburton and Deepdene was reopened for passengers, with a few extra stations operating. Amongst these were Stanley* (Mont Albert Road) renamed Roystead; Hartwell Station renamed Burwood; and Hartwell Hill renamed Hartwell. The station for the latter came from Walhalla. Stations were not manned and passengers bought tickets from the guard. Trains were serviced in Camberwell. This line was very popular with its passengers and continued until 1927. There wouldn't have been much traffic on the roads, but when a main road like Whitehorse Road was reached, the train had to stop, the guard with his red flag would step out onto the road, the train would cross, stop again and wait for the guard to climb back on board.

It must have been a sad day when the 'Deepdene Dasher' did its last run in 1927

Although parts of the Outer Circle line was driven by politics and land speculators, largely the purpose of the line was a route of produce to be brought to Melbourne by connecting the Gippsland Railway to the main government railway terminal at Spencer Street without requiring travel along the privately owned railway from Flinders Street.

The Outer Circle Rail Trail (18km)
Location: Eastern Melbourne suburbs, Fairfield to Hughesdale

The majority of the former Outer Circle Line has now been converted into a bicycle trail called the Anniversary Trail to commemorate 100 years since the opening of the railway. The former rail corridor is almost entirely intact and includes sections in steep cuttings and embankments and several large bridges. The former bridge across the Yarra River at Fairfield is now used by traffic on the Chandler Highway.


Melbourne's Forgotten Railway - The Outer Circle

The documentary can be rented online from the documentary's website.

Melbourne Link Outer Circle Railway Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window Outer Circle Line | www.vicrailstations.com Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window www.outercircleline.com.au Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window PDF Railway Map of Victoria Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window Outer Circle Line | www.wikipedia.org Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window Outer Circle Line | www.emelbourne.net.au Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window www.facebook.com/OuterCircleLine Link opens in new browser window

Link opens new page Content > View Category | Melbourne | View Mobile Friendly Page

Link opens new page This Page > Update | Edit Page | Print Page

Click here to edit / update this page

Stay Tuned | Free Weekly Round Up

Receive what's on for the week straight to your inbox every Tuesday.

Simply type your email address in the box below.

Email Address*

* Opt-In (Check Your Email): Read T&C | Read This Week's Newsletter

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Instagram
See Events in November >

Melbourne Christmas Day Lunch @ Pullman Albert Park
View Melbourne Christmas Day Lunch @ Pullman Albert Park
Raise a glass and don't lift a finger this Christmas Day. Let us create a memorable celebration | Read On..

International Week of the Italian Cuisine
View International Week of the Italian Cuisine
International Week of the Italian Cuisine at Zia Teresa Restaurant (in partnership with the Italian | Read On..

Melbourne's Exclusive Magic Show
View Melbourne's Exclusive Magic Show
Witness Impossible Occurrences, one of Melbourne's most exclusive attractions. Award winning | Read On..

Check Out
Melburnian of the Year | Susan Alberti
View Melburnian of the Year | Susan Alberti
Susan Alberti named 2017 Melburnian of the Year The inspirational businesswoman, fundraiser, philanthropist and footy fanatic was honoured for | Read On..

Myer Christmas Windows
View Myer Christmas Windows
Myer's Christmas Windows celebrates a 62 year old tradition in 2017. Since 1956, Myer's gift to the City of Melbourne now attracts an estimated | Read On..

Mel's Pick
Ferntree Gully Mirror House | Exhibition
View Ferntree Gully Mirror House | Exhibition
The Mirror House in Ferntree Gully part of Knox Immerse art festival: Untitled House Mirror to | Read On..

Greek Tavern Night | Saturday Nights
View Greek Tavern Night | Saturday Nights
Melbourne's best traditional GREEK night with live music, entertainment, dancing and Mediterranean | Read On..