Plenty Gorge Park upgrades
- Works have started on the Plenty River Trail. The first stage will deliver a section of trail that will journey through the Hawkstowe Picnic Area. The picnic area will also receive a new accessible toilet, new play spaces and improved pathways and access.
- Cultural Heritage Assessments are progressing for the central and southern sections.
- Environmental assessments are progressing for the central and southern sections.
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This project is being delivered on Wurundjeri Country.
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
Environmental and cultural heritage assessments will inform exactly where, when and how components of the project are delivered.
Plenty River Trail
The new Plenty River Trail in Plenty Gorge Park will see the creation 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 Maroondah Aqueduct Pipe Bridge will also be refurbished.
Hawkstowe Picnic Area upgrades
The project includes plans to upgrade Hawkstowe Picnic Area with an accessible toilet, new play spaces, 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.
Plenty River Trail map
Below are images of what visitors can expect to see along the Plenty River Trail once the works are complete:
1. 2. 3.
1. Render of Blue Lake lookout
2. Render of the new pedestrian bridge at Janefield Gully
3. Render of the Gorge Road lookout
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.
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.
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.
This project is being made possible thanks to the following funding:
- Plenty River Trail - $19.3 million from the Victorian Government’s Suburban Parks Program
- Hawkstowe Picnic Area - $800,000 from the Victorian Government as part of the park’s Master Plan development, and a further $850,000 as part of the Urban Parks and Active Wellbeing Program
- Nioka Bush Camp - $383,500 from the Victorian Government’s Victoria’s Great Outdoors investment
Subject to on-ground and construction industry conditions, and environmental and cultural heritage assessments, the timeline for the project is estimated below:
June - July 2021: Community consultation designs released (complete)
June 2022: Concept designs released (complete)
December 2023: Construction starts
Late 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 Energy, Environment and Climate Action
Department of Transport and Planning
Yarra Valley Water
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.
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.
- News December 2023: Works start Plenty River Trail
- News October 2023: Plenty River Trail works starting soon
- Community update August 2023
- News June 2022: Five new lookouts for spectacular Plenty River Trail
- Suburban Parks Program
- Victoria's Great Outdoors program
- Plenty Gorge Park
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 approximately 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 accessible for wheelchair users with some assistance, either a helper or an electric chair.
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 listed Maroondah Aqueduct Pipe Bridge will also be refurbished for use.
When will the Plenty River Trail be finished?
The Plenty River Trail is being built in stages, beginning with the Hawkstowe section which started in December 2023. The trail will progressively open to the community as each section is completed. Project timelines are subject to on-ground and construction industry conditions, and environmental and cultural heritage assessments, and may change as the project progresses.
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 Hawkstowe Reserve?
We are currently upgrading the Hawkstowe Picnic Area with an accessible toilet, new play spaces, an improved entrance and better connection between the Hawkstowe carpark and Le Page Homestead.
The upgrades will mean people of all abilities can access and enjoy the Hawkstowe Picnic Area more easily.
How have the Hawkstowe 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?
We’re delivering important refurbishment and repair works at Nioka Bushcamp, to restore the site's facilities and provide a better visitor experience.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.