Work on the new Plenty River Trail is expected to begin later this year following the finalisation of designs by Parks Victoria.
The $19.3M project through Plenty River Gorge in Melbourne’s North East will comprise 24km of trail: 19km of primary trail and 5km of secondary loop trails, with five lookouts, three new gully crossings and two new bridge crossings, with a third, the Maroondah Aqueduct Pipe Bridge to be refurbished.
The Trail is being developed in stages which will be progressively opened to the public late-2022 to mid-2024.
The Hawkstowe Precinct will be the first section of Plenty River Trail to be constructed. Part of the early work will include removal of existing bollards with boulders
The trail will be one of the most important additions in the history of Melbourne’s metropolitan trail network, stretching from University Hill in the south through to Doreen in the north.
The trail will run along the western corridor of the park and will connect locals and visitors with the parklands and to Hawkstowe and Mernda railway stations via new and refurbished paths.
The project, 20km from the CBD, will be connected to other trails in the Melbourne network.
The path is 3 metres wide, and can be used by cyclists, walkers and runners.
The trail surface will be varied but, mostly be granitic sand with some sections may include crushed rock, asphalt and concrete. Granitic sand has worked well on some rail trails in Victoria, but they are generally on flat territory.
As a result of consultation more local neighbourhood connections and local loops have been added. Other proposed loops and the Mill lookout have been removed due to vegetation and heritage concerns.
Plenty Gorge Park is the most species rich area in the Greater Melbourne region and is home to many plants and animals including many species of state and national significance.
In the draft design the primary trail enables multiple secondary loops to occur, with Wiltonvale, Hawkstowe, Tanunda wetlands and Janfield gully loops providing scenic riding and walking trails for regular use.
The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said: “This new trail is going to be a great asset for our community, enabling all of us to appreciate the wonderful native wildlife and plants that call Plenty Gorge Park home.”
The Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green commented: “Seeing these designs finalised is another welcome step towards realising a really exciting project that will connect our community with great opportunities for cycling, walking and exploring the natural world.”
The final design report is here.
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