Powelltown Tramways

Timber Tramways


In the hills stretching from East Warburton to beyond Powelltown are the remains of a network of timber tramways existing from the days prior to the 1939 bushfires. A combination of horse drawn and steam powered narrow-gauge tramways were used for transporting logs to the mills. The beds of these tracks now provide a series of delightful walking tracks through the forest. They pass old trestle bridges and the relics of a number of bush timber mills.

We have walked here on a number of occasions, mainly from Starlings Gap into the Ada and New Federal Mill Sites. It was on my third walk that I slipped whilst coming down the High Lead and broke my ankle. This is the only occasion on which I have ever had a serious injury and one that required help and a rescue.

Leaving Starlings Gap, you follow the tramway line around the contours of the hills for about eight kilometres. The bridges that once crossed the creeks have now rotted away, so you have a bit of clambering down to each creek and then up again to get back to the track. You may be lucky enough to see Lyrebirds and Koalas in the forest. After eight kilometres or so of walking through the forest you will reach a cross junction, where you can turn left and head up the track for a bit over over a kilometre to the Ada #2 Mill site and some relics. Returning to the main tack, turn left (or continuing straight on if you didn’t take the option to visit the Ada #2 Mill) and you will soon reach the remains of a large log bridge and five hundred metres beyond it are the remains of the New Federal Mill.

Return to the cross junction and turn left to visit the Ada Mill and the crossing over the Ada River. There is a campsite just beyond the river (don’t camp at the Ada Mill site). On the following day you can return the same way to Starlings Gap, or continue down the High Lead to the Powelltown-Noojee Road.


Bruce is a keen traveller and photographer. This web site describes his travel and family interests

4 thoughts on “Powelltown Tramways

  1. Very interested in the locomotives that operated out of Powelltown, in particular the Little Yarra. Am looking for information on this locomotive to build a commercial model in On30. Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Brian, Check out the next issue of “Light Railways”, No. 200 for April 2008. Will contain an article on Little Yarra, plus a detailed scale drawing. Magazine should be in larger newsagents by the first week of April, or see the Light Railway Research Society’s website – http://www.lrrsa.org.au. Trust this helps.

  3. Hello
    Funny you talk about a brocken ankle. I am 56. In 1963 at age 13 and my brother then aged 15 and cousin 14, left Melbourne by train to hike from EastWarburton (Camped overnight)then via BigpatsCreek up Smyth creek road to Starlings Gap (Camped there over night,There was a Hut there then)Next day we hiked down the tram track heading to Big Pats Creek. On the way at one of the Sawdust Heaps we decided to play, We ran and jumped down the side of the hill , landing in the sawdust up to our Knees. When it was time to leave I had one last jump ,spining in mid air. Well my legs sank into the sawdust but my body kept turning. Resulting in a broken ankle. My brother & cousin had to carry me out which took untill very late that night. It was not untill the next day that we got back to Melbourne and had my leg set in plaster.
    Hope you get a laugh out of this

  4. Heading up to big pats creek and down to starlings gap and ads tree/mill sites this weekend.
    Look forward to getting back to those trails I love them!

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