Another big year of projects across Victorian parks, with plenty more to come in 2024
Thursday 21 December, 2023
2023 has been another massive year for projects in parks across the state. From new campgrounds and picnic areas, to a stunning new garden with over 15,000 native plants to explore – read on to learn more about some of this year’s projects.
Boating and fishing fans can now enjoy an easier day out on the magnificent Port Phillip and Corio bays, thanks to a new user-friendly dual-lane boat ramp and jetty at Kirk Point. Parking has also been improved to provide spaces big enough for cars and trailers. With the beautiful Spit Wildlife Reserve nearby, we made sure works were undertaken outside the peak bird migration season and also when less people were using the boat ramp. The upgrade also redirects vehicle access, helping to protect the surrounding wetlands and our feathered friends who call them home.
Garden lovers can explore the delights of the new Chelsea Australian Garden at Olinda, with the spectacular green space now open. Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the garden features a cascading waterfall, a billabong and winding paths that take you to remarkable vistas. Discover some of the garden’s 15,000 plants from over 400 native Australian species and several different microclimates - which help to support habitat creation and biodiversity in the area. The project has been delivered with a particular focus on sustainability, featuring an integrated bushfire protection system, solar power and the clever use of recycled and reclaimed materials.
Families can escape the house over the holidays and enjoy hours of fun at Wattle Park, with a new all-abilities playscape, a 3.25km walking and running track and an upgraded picnic area. The new playscape offers kids of all ages and abilities new ways to get active in nature, with a double-storey tram fort, play domes, swings and spinners - which are wheelchair-accessible with assistance. The upgraded picnic area is the perfect place to spend time with family and friends, with new shelters, barbecues and all-abilities pathways and picnic tables. We’ve also worked with the community, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and Heritage Victoria to plan for the future of the park – check out the master plan we released in October.
Communities in Melbourne’s north will soon be better connected, with stage 1 works recently kicking off on the new Plenty River Trail at Plenty Gorge Park. Spanning all the way from Doreen to University Hill, the shared-use track offers opportunities to walk or cycle across the park. We’re also building five new lookouts which will offer spectacular views of the area, and two new bridges to help visitors explore more of the park’s beautiful bushland. We’re building the trail in stages, and once complete it will also provide new and improved links to Hawkstowe Station and Mernda Station – making it easier for locals to access public transport options in the area.
2023 has also seen us celebrate a bumper first camping season at Point Nepean National Park, with over 1,000 people enjoying an overnight stay in one of the pre-pitched Discovery Tents (we weren’t able to monitor the official number of sausages that have been cooked on the campsite’s new barbecues – but we estimate this number to be high!). Even more campers will be able to relax and make the most of the easy camping experience as we start works to expand the campsite over summer. The new ‘Woodland’ area will see additional tent platforms carefully placed amongst the park’s magical Moonah trees in the Quarantine Station precinct – helping campers of all experience levels discover this special part of Victoria.
Parks Victoria's 2023 projects
What’s ahead for 2024?
There’s much more to come in the new year, and we can’t wait to get started.
Visitors to Victoria’s south-west will get another lookout to view the Twelve Apostles in early 2024. The Saddle Lookout will provide a stunning new way to experience this iconic destination. Works on a project to bring visitors up close to the Blowhole at Loch Ard Gorge will also start early in the new year. On both projects we’re working in partnership with Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation to better connect visitors to beautiful Keerray Woorroong Country.
Heading further west, the restored Visitor Centre at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve will reopen in 2024 following conservation works to bring this heritage-listed building, designed by Robin Boyd, back to life.
Our Heritage Icons projects will also start to progress at sites across the state in the new year. From repairing Werribee Park Mansion’s ageing Welsh Slate roof, to undertaking structural repairs to the Point Nepean forts – works will help preserve and protect these important sites for future generations to visit.
On Bunurong Country in the south of the state, planning for a storytelling and interpretation project is underway at Point Nepean National Park. We’ll be installing new signage in the new year at the Quarantine Station, Gunners Cottage, the Harold Holt Memorial and along Coles Track to help visitors learn about the park’s long and important history. We’re also upgrading the Boiler House to create an immersive experience for visitors to journey back through time and discover what it would’ve been like for immigrants arriving at Point Nepean during the 1800s and 1900s.
Communities across Melbourne can also expect better facilities at some of their favourite urban parks in the new year. As part of the Urban Parks Active Wellbeing Program, we’ve been upgrading facilities and improving accessibility at 21 urban parks, including new and refurbished picnic shelters and tables, playground equipment, barbecues and accessible pathways. At Jells Park in Melbourne’s east, visitors will soon be able to enjoy more ways to exercise, socialise and explore nature with two new shared-use trails and upgraded sports fields coming to the park in 2024. And over at Olinda Recreation Reserve, we’re close to finishing works that will see community sporting clubs in the Dandenong Ranges enjoy a new netball court and new cricket practice nets.
Projects we’re delivering in parks are helping celebrate and protect Victoria’s amazing landscapes, supporting healthy communities, and injecting millions of dollars into regional economies. To learn more about our recently completed or upcoming projects, visit: https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/projects