The Victorian road in the middle of nowhere they paved for a Queen

the-victorian-road-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-they-paved-for-a-queen

James Ward

The Victorian road in the middle of nowhere they paved for a Queen-0

The goal? To find a unique and near-perfect section of driving tarmac, miles from any connecting roads, to serve no one but the driver.

For seven brilliant kilometers, the sealed section of the C511 Warburton-Woods Point Road exists. Its flowing curves and subtle elevation changes wind through the rainforest and logging catchments, offering both exceptional scenery and pure, driving enjoyment.



The downside of this special section of roadway, is that it is in the middle of nowhere.

The road surface to reach it is unsealed and pretty rough, so much so that our adventure in the Volkswagen Amarok W580S was a very bumpy one!

But why is it there at all?



During our research for the TV shoot, we unearthed a fascinating Royal rumour.

In 1954, just two years into her reign, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip toured Australia. For 57 days, from Wednesday 3rd February to Thursday 1st April, the couple would travel between Sydney and Perth, making countless stops along the way.

At 10 days, the longest waypoint was Victoria, with the couple taking time to spend a long weekend resting at a lodge in Warburton in the Yarra Ranges, about 70km from Melbourne.



The story goes, that as the Upper Yarra Reservoir development was nearing completion, the major works project was of potential interest to the Royal couple, and preparations needed to be made in case a tour made it to the official itinerary.

The road itself was constructed in 1866, but with the catchment and tunnel developments throughout, it marks the only ‘thoroughfare’ through the region.

The Australian Army engineers were tasked with preparing a section of road that would showcase the works, and provide a suitable touring surface for the important guests.



And so a short, 7km section of the C511, connected to no other major road or railway, buried deep in the ranges, was sealed with the best hotmix asphalt available.

The Victorian road in the middle of nowhere they paved for a Queen-0

It’s a great story, and the dates and locations check out, but it still leaves a few questions unanswered.

First of all, how would they get there? If travelling from their accommodation in Warburton, the Queen and Duke would need to traverse the full length of the unsealed C511. It was rough in our Amarok, let alone a 1954 Land Rover!



There is a small airstrip nearby, which currently supports firefighting aircraft in emergencies, but it’s five-kilometers away from the start of the paved section of road, if it was even in service in 1954. Not even to question where they would get on a plane to begin with.

Looking through historical reports of the tour and detailed itinerary notes, it looks unlikely that the pristine section of the C511 made it to the Royal schedule at all.

We can’t find any substantiation of the Army Engineers involvement, nor a back story on the reasons why it was paved at all.

But the road exists, and the Royal rumour persists.

And if you’re going to have a fun back story to rationalise why a road in the middle of nowhere is as perfect as newly minted highway, then a right Royal connection isn’t a bad way to get there.

You can watch the full episode of Drive TV here, or check out our route guide so you can make your own way out there and discover this interesting corner of Queen Elizabeth’s connection to Australia yourself.



Vale Queen Elizabeth II – 1926-2022

James Ward

James has been part of the digital publishing landscape in Australia since 2002 and has worked within the automotive industry since 2007. He joined CarAdvice in 2013, left in 2017 to work with BMW and then returned at the end of 2019 to spearhead the content direction of Drive.

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