Project status

July 2022

  • Final designs for the trail have been released
  • Tenders are now being sought to upgrade the Hawkstowe visitor precinct

To keep up to date on the project’s progress, subscribe here for updates.

 

The project

Plenty Gorge Park offers expansive, beautiful bushland only 20km from Melbourne on Wurundjeri Country. The park’s diverse landscape and native wildlife provides visitors with an important opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of suburbia and enjoy the benefits of connecting with nature.  

A project is now underway to deliver: 

  • The new Plenty River Trail 
  • Upgrades to Hawkstowe Picnic Area  
  • Improvements to Nioka Bush Camp  

Plenty River Trail

The new Plenty River Trail in Plenty Gorge Park will see the creation of 19km of primary trail running from Doreen in the north to University Hill (Bundoora) in the south, and 5km of secondary trails. It will be a shared-use trail for walkers, runners and cyclists. 

Works will also include the construction of five new lookouts offering expansive views across the parkland, two new bridges providing additional river-crossing access, and the existing pipe bridge at Maroondah will also be refurbished.  

Hawkstowe Picnic Area upgrades

The project includes plans to upgrade Hawkstowe Picnic Area with an accessible toilet, a new playscape, improved entrance and better connection between the Hawkstowe carpark and Le Page Homestead. 

Nioka Bush Camp improvements

The project will also include upgrades to uplift facilities at Nioka Bush Camp.

 

Below are images of what visitors can expect to see along the Plenty River Trail once the works are complete: 

1. Plenty river Trail Blue Lake Lookout render 2. Plenty River Trail pedestrian bridge render


Image descriptions:  

1. Render of Blue Lake lookout 
2. Render of the new pedestrian bridge at Janefield Gully 

 

Project benefits

Environment

Plenty Gorge Park is home to an abundant variety of plants and wildlife. It is also surrounded by a rapidly growing metropolitan area. Creating a formalised trail network, new bridge crossings and lookouts, and new park facilities will enable visitors to respectfully explore and enjoy this beautiful parkland, while minimising disruption to the important landscape and habitat it provides for many native species. 

Visitors

The investment into Plenty Gorge will activate the park, and offer visitors new and accessible experiences to walk, ride, play and stay in this beautiful bushland to Melbourne’s north.

Community 

The Plenty River Trail will provide new opportunities for local communities to experience and explore Plenty Gorge Park, and will also connect the communities located in the north and south of the park. 

It will also help connect communities located on the east and west sides of the park, with two additional bridge crossings providing connections across the river. 

The trail will also link to the Mernda and Hawkstowe railway stations, providing options for walkers and cyclists to journey through the park. 

 

Project funding

This project is being made possible thanks to the following funding: 

  

Project timeline

Subject to on-ground and industry conditions, the timeline for the project is estimated below:

June - July 2021: Community consultation designs released (complete)
June 2022: Concept designs released (complete)
Late 2022: Construction commences 
Mid 2024: Construction complete

This timeline will be updated as the project progresses.


Environment and cultural heritage management

Detailed Environmental and Cultural Heritage for both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Heritage Assessments have been completed to inform the project designs, ensuring that impacts are minimised or avoided wherever possible. 


Who are we working with?

Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation  
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning 
Whittlesea Council 
Nillumbik Council 
Melbourne Water 
Department of Transport

 

Access changes

At stages during this project there may be a requirement to restrict or redirect public access to certain sections of the planned trail.

Before visiting, please check the Parks Victoria website for any changed conditions, or call the Parks Victoria Information Centre: 13 1963. 


Staying updated

Information about this project will be maintained on this page, while community consultation opportunities will be posted on the Engage Victoria website.  

To receive updates by email please subscribe here.

 

Related news 

 

FAQs

What are the upgrades being delivered at Plenty Gorge Park?  
The Victorian Government is investing in Plenty Gorge Park to create the new Plenty River Trail, upgrade the Hawkstowe Picnic Area and make improvements to the Nioka Bush Camp. 

Why is this project being delivered?  
The investment into Plenty Gorge will activate the park, and offer visitors new and diverse experiences to walk, ride, play and stay in this beautiful bushland to Melbourne’s north. 

What is the Plenty River Trail? 
The Plenty River Trail will be built in Plenty Gorge Park, running from Doreen in the north to University Hill (Bundoora) in the south. It will be a shared-use trail for walkers, runners and cyclists.  

This $19.3 million investment is part of the Suburban Parks Program and will connect local communities and visitors with Plenty Gorge Park, as well as connecting the communities in the north and south of the park. 

How long will the Plenty River Trail be? 
The trail will be 19km long, with an additional 5km of loop trails running off it. 

How will the Plenty River Trail be shared-use? 
The trail will be 3 metres wide, and can be used by cyclists, walkers and runners. From Bridge Inn Road to Hawkstowe Precinct the trail will be suitable for all abilities. The other trail sections will be suitable for cyclists, walkers and runners. 

The trail surface will mostly be granitic sand. Some sections may include crushed rock, asphalt and concrete. 

How many lookouts will there be? 
There will be five lookouts - at Carome Homestead, Lone Pine (next to Wilton Vale Road), Gorge Road, Blue Lake and Riverside (near the Tanunda wetlands). They have all been designed in consultation with the local community and Traditional Owners to sensitively blend in with the landscape and enjoy expansive views across the area. 
 
How many new bridges will there be? 
There will be two new bridges over the river – one to connect the western side of the river with the popular Blue Lake area and another for walkers crossing at Janefield Gully. The heritage pipe bridge at the Maroondah Aqueduct Reserve will also be refurbished for use. 

When will the Plenty River Trail be finished? 
The trail will be progressively opened to the public from late-2022 to mid-2024.  

How has the Plenty River Trail been funded? 
The $19.3 million investment for the Plenty River Trail is part of the $315 million Suburban Parks Program, which will deliver 6500 hectares of new and upgraded, accessible green space for Melbourne’s growing outer suburbs. 
 
What is planned at Hawkestowe Reserve? 
We are planning to upgrade Hawkstowe Picnic Area with an accessible toilet, improved entrance and better connection between the Hawkstowe carpark and Le Page Homestead as well as a new playground. 

The upgrades will mean people of all abilities can access and enjoy the Hawkstowe Picnic Area more easily. 
 
How have the Hawkestowe Reserve upgrades been funded?  
The Victorian Government has invested $800,000 as part of the park’s Master Plan development, and a further $850,000 as part of the Urban Parks and Active Wellbeing Program 
 
What is planned at Nioka Bush Camp? 
Nioka will be upgraded to make it more accessible with better facilities for people to enjoy.  

How have the Nioka Bush Camp upgrades been funded? 
The upgrades are being delivered via $383,500 in funding from the Victorian Government’s $105 million Victoria’s Great Outdoors program, which helps Victorians from all walks of life to get out and enjoy nature. 
 
Have Traditional Owners been consulted? 
The Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, as the Registered Aboriginal Party, is the formally recognised organisation responsible for representing Traditional Owner rights and interests in the area. 

Workshops have been held with Wurundjeri Elders throughout design development and Wurundjeri has and will continue to be involved in the Cultural Heritage Management Plan development. Elders’ insights on the land will be shared along the trail. 
 
How are you consulting with the community? 
Community consultation for the Plenty River Trail was conducted in two stages in 2020 and 2021. Altogether, we saw over 1,400 contributions made across stages 1 and 2 of the consultation. Reports that summarise the findings from consultation are available on Engage Victoria.  

Throughout the construction process we will continue to keep stakeholders and the community informed and updated. 
 
Will the park be closed during construction? 
At stages during this project there may be a requirement to restrict public access to certain sections of the park. Before visiting, please check the Parks Victoria website for any changed conditions, or call the Parks Victoria Information Centre: 13 1963. 

How can I stay up-to-date with project progress? 
You can subscribe for updates on the Plenty Gorge Park upgrades here

Who can I contact for more information?  
If you have questions or want to learn more about a project, you can call the Parks Victoria team on 13 19 63 or email us at engage@parks.vic.gov.au.  


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