Warburton MTB Destination
A world class mountain biking hub in and near Warburton, featuring 100+ kilometres of trails
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About the project
Work is currently underway to plan and build a world class mountain biking hub in and near Warburton. Stage one involves the development of 100+ kilometres of new mountain bike trails and connections.
Combining Warburton’s scenic natural environment and village atmosphere, with the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination would promote a healthy community and put Warburton on the national and international tourism radar.
The project would be delivered in multiple stages, and would include 160 kilometres of trails when complete.
The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination has the potential to revitalise Warburton, encourage new business, attract visitors and tourism activity.
The project will draw new visitors to Warburton, as well as increasing the length of visitors’ stay, by offering new activity.
It is anticipated that the trails will be used by:
- Local residents and
- Residents from surrounding townships
- Visitors to the region seeking nature-based and adventure tourism opportunities
- National and international mountain bike riders
The project is expected to bring about 165,000 new visitors to the Yarra Ranges each year. This would consist of 135,000 day visitors and 30,000 overnight visitors. Township planning will be conducted alongside this project to maximise opportunities and ensure supporting services and infrastructure are in place.
The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination will have a direct and positive impact on the local economy. It is expected to create 122 new local jobs and generate about $20.4 million in economic spend within the region each year. This presents a significant opportunity for businesses to grow their customer base and profits.
The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination is being developed in a significant natural and cultural environment. Council is working with Parks Victoria, Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP), Melbourne Water and Zoos Victoria to deliver the best possible result for the project and the environment.
Protecting plants and animals in the area is critical for this project. Council has established an expert panel to make sure that impacts to threatened species and vulnerable and sensitive environmental areas are minimised.
To protect the important environmental and cultural values of the region, Council will use sensitive design, effective risk management and leading-edge construction techniques to deliver the trail network.
This includes a 20-metre leeway for the trail alignment, so it can be constructed around trees and sensitive areas to preserve the environment.
The trails will give the community more access to the Yarra Ranges’ natural environment. Educational signage will be placed along the trails, giving visitors an insight to local history and culture.
As a result of the project, illegal and informal trails on public land will be reviewed or closed, leading to rehabilitation of these areas.
Stage one of the plan includes three zones for riding:
- Mt Donna Buang, on the north side, with the “Drop-A-K” signature trail – a 1000 metre vertically descending trail
- Mt Little Joe, on the south side, with trails for all experience levels, including beginners and families
- Mt Tugwell, on the south side, with more a challenging and intermediate trail, including climbs and descents
Please remember, the project is still in the draft master plan phase. The trail alignments aren’t final and are subject to change and further community consultation.
The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination project is currently in the preparation of the Master Plan stage. There is still a large body of work, including environmental and statutory planning approvals still to be undertaken.
Once the Master Plan has been completed, the project will then move into the permit and approval phase. There will be further opportunity for community input during this phase.
If the project is successful in the planning and approvals stage, it will then progress to the construction phase. This is when the project gets refined even further to the point of knowing exactly what the trails will look like, what features they will include and what materials they will be made from.
Documents and maps
Master plan documents
- Draft master plan – Overview
- Draft master plan – Mt Tugwell and Mt Little Joe
- Draft master plan – Mt Donna Buang
Trail summary documents
- Draft trail summary – Mt Tugwell
- Draft trail summary – Mt Little Joe
- Draft trail summary – Mt Donna Buang
Have a look at what’s been happening with the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination project.
Frequently asked questions
No walking tracks are to be closed, and no existing walking tracks are to be converted for mountain bike use.
The master plan aims to ensure that both walking trails and proposed mountain bike tracks co-exist respectfully.
Riders will not have to pay to use the trail network.
The mountain bike trails will generally be between 600mm and 900mm wide and naturally surfaced.
In order to ensure erosion is reduced and maintenance is minimised, sections of the trail network will have hardened surfaces such as gravel and rock.
Stage 1 is fully funded at $11.3 million.
Yarra Ranges Council has committed $2.7 million and received $300k from the Warburton and Yarra Junction Community Bank, $3 million from the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund, $2.3 million from the Regional Growth Fund and $3 million from the State Government’s Growing Suburbs Fund.
The project team is currently finalising the trail alignments and environmental approvals in order to complete the Master Plan.
Once complete, the Master Plan will be available for public comment. The project then needs to go through the planning approvals phase before it can advance to construction.
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World Trail has being appointed as the trail construction company and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in creating world class trails.
The trails in Stage 1 of the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination will be purpose built for mountain bike use only.
It is proposed to establish an Incorporated Association to manage the trails. This means all profits are put back into the association’s activities.
The association will manage the operation, maintenance, volunteers, events and marketing of the trails network.
Unless agreed to by the land owner, no trails will go on private land. The vast majority of trails use public land.
A local movement and transport report has been prepared which identified:
- There is sufficient capacity across the road network to accommodate the forecasted growth in additional traffic
- The growth in tourist volumes is expected to place pressure on existing parking infrastructure in Warburton. A trail head car park for approximately 200 cars will be created as part of the project. The car park will be in close proximity to where the trails start and finish and contain visitor services such as toilets and bike wash bays. It is anticipated that most mountain bike visitors will use this facility or park at their accommodation.
- Improvements to signage, wayfinding and parking restriction compliance will improve utilisation of existing parking spaces.
The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Project will provide:
- A main trail head, including car parking (approx. 200 cars) and end of trip facilities such as toilets, bike wash and bike parking
- Improvements to visitor services at Mt Donna Buang summit
- Improvements to the cyclist connectivity within town
It is proposed to locate a main trail head with approximately 200 car parks in, or close to, Warburton township. Proximity to central Warburton is important so that visitors are encouraged to access shops and services in Warburton.
The project team are currently negotiating an agreement with a landholder for the trail head location, close to central Warburton. This location will be disclosed, once an agreement has been reached.
The trails have been designed to be a “ride in, ride out” experience from the main trail head in Warburton.
That being said, some riders will still want to be driven to the top of the network. For this reason, the network has been designed to accommodate commercial shuttle operators.
These are important for the creation of jobs and economic activity for the community.
The project team and land managers will work together to manage the impacts of shuttles and are exploring options including, but not limited to:
- Licencing of shuttle operators to enable control of operations including time of day, route, number of shuttles, quality of service.
- Having a designated shuttle drop off point that only licensed, commercial shuttle operators have access to.
- Limiting access to shuttle roads so that only commercial shuttles can access designated points in the network.
- Parking restrictions in certain areas to reduce community impact.
Environment and heritage
The trails will allow greater community access to engage with the natural environment, and therefore learn about it and value it.
Along the trails will be education and interpretation signage and opportunities that support environmental and cultural awareness and advocacy.
The conservation and protection of Leadbeaters Possums is critical for this project. We have convened an expert panel to offer advice and direction to minimise impacts to threatened species and vulnerable and sensitive ecological areas.
This will include being able to adapt and move the trail alignment during construction within a 20 metre wide design corridor to avoid elements such as trees and sensitive ecological areas and preserve the environmental integrity.
In addition, we will develop a high quality, leading edge trail design to be established in an environmentally and culturally sensitive manner, using sensitive construction techniques which will also help to protect Leadbeaters Possums.
Budget has being set aside for monitoring programs and environmental improvement works such as installing nesting boxes/creating hollows.
A multi-agency emergency management plan will be put in place that ensures appropriate resources are available to respond to emergency incidents.
It is likely that access to all trails will be closed on code red fire risk days as is currently done in National Park and State Forest areas.
The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination is being developed in a significant natural and cultural environment in the Yarra Ranges. It is a high priority of the project partners that the environmental integrity of the surrounding areas be protected and managed. To do this we:
- Will meet the highest standards environmental planning and approvals, including conditions under the Environmental Effects Act 1978 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
- Have convened an expert panel to offer advice and direction to minimise impacts to threatened species and vulnerable and sensitive ecological areas
- Have undertaken detailed risk assessment and mitigation planning to ensure impacts are minimised.
- Will develop a high quality, leading edge trail design to be established in an environmentally and culturally sensitive manner, using sensitive construction techniques
- Are involving many organisations to offer whole of government thinking, with Council working in partnership with Parks Victoria, Department of Environment Land Water and Planning, Melbourne Water and Zoos Victoria
- Will adapt and move the trail alignment during construction within a 20 metre wide design corridor to avoid elements such as trees and sensitive ecological areas and preserve the environmental integrity
- Budget has been set aside for environmental enhancement works such as species monitoring programs, installation of nesting boxes and gross pollutant traps in carparks on Mt Donna Buang
- During construction, contractors will be supervised by expert personnel including ecologists, flora and fauna specialists, arborists and design engineers
- Removal of vegetation will be in compliance with the Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation (DELWP, 2017)
- Use raised platforms for construction of the trails alignment in sensitive areas
- Where stream crossing cannot be avoided, implement best practice construction and design solutions
- Complete a detailed Construction and Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) to manage risks during construction
- Will develop a comprehensive weed management program for both the construction and operation of the trail network
In addition, the project adheres to State and National Legislation, including:
- An EES Referral is being submitted as part of the requirements of the Environmental Effects Act 1978
- An EPBC Referral is being submitted as part of the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
- Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006
- Water Act 1989
- Environment Protection Act 1970
- Heritage Act 2017
- Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
- Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994
- Wildlife Act 1975
- Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978
- National Parks Act 1975
Based on current plans for the project, places listed on the cultural heritage registers include:
- Victorian Heritage Inventory- O’Shannassy Aqueduct Sawmill Site (H8022-0111)
- Yarra Ranges Council Heritage Overlay- Mt Donna Buang Bridle Tracks and Road (HO140) and Lilydale- Warburton Railway (HO214)
A previous trail alignment was going through the heritage site- Yarra Yarra Hydraulic Gold Sluicing Company (HO342), however this has now been removed.
Council has engaged heritage experts BIOSIS to prepare a historic heritage survey for the area and to give advice on how to sensitively provide public access to important heritage sites while preserving their integrity. The project will seek the necessary permits needed.
No, the proposed trails will not be within the cemetery. Surveying has been undertaken to confirm the cemetery boundaries and ensure the proposed trails do not fall within the cemetery.
It is difficult to accurately predict visitor outcomes for a project of this nature. The project team engaged consultants to advise on anticipated visitor numbers using case studies and industry base knowledge.
Estimates have been provided at 3 scales:
- Base Case – A high probability outcome during establishment and growth phase (1-5 years)
- Mature Destination – A likely outcome once the destination and supporting services have matured (6-12 years)
- Full Potential – The destination fully developed, with strong supporting services, marketing and management (13-20 years)
|Warburton users||Day users||Overnight users||Total users|
|Conservative base case||45,000||10,000||55,000|
|Average weekly users (based on 40 weeks)||1,125||250||1,375|
|Average weekly users (based on 40 weeks)||2,700||550||3,250|
|Average weekly users (based on 40 weeks)||3,375||750||4,125|
The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination will:
- provide strong physical and mental health and wellbeing benefits for the Yarra Ranges and Victorian community
- offer increased recreational opportunities for residents and visitors of all ages and riding abilities
- cater for all riding abilities and styles, allowing youth in the community to learn new skills
- reinvigorate the town of Warburton, inspire investment into sites that have remained dormant for some time and enhance business opportunities
- create economic activity and increased job opportunities within the Upper Yarra Region
- allow for family friendly experiences that leverage the destination for a fun, family day out
- enable local schools to leverage the network and be able to add new programs to their curriculum
- put Warburton on the map as an International Destination and instil community pride
- draw new visitors to the Upper Yarra Region, as well as increasing the length of stay by offering a new visitor activity
- allow for a review and closure of illegal trails currently in the area on public land, leading to environment rehabilitation
- enable a stronger community connection with the environment and promote increased involvement in volunteer programs.
At full potential (after approximately 13-20 years of operation) the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination is expected to bring around 165,000 visitors annually to the Upper Yarra Region. This consists of 135,000 day visitors and 30,000 overnight visitors.
These overnight visitors will consist of Interstate and International visitors. Derby, a similar destination in North East Tasmania that has been operating for 3 years, currently has 60% Interstate visitors and 7% International visitors.
This equates to approximately $20.4 million in economic spend within the region annually, and presents a significant opportunity for businesses to increase their customer base and profits.
Get in touch
Want to know more about the project, or want to leave some feedback? We’d love to hear from you!
Contact one of our project partners
Yarra Ranges Shire Council
P.O. Box 105, Anderson Street
Lilydale, VIC 3140
T : 1300 368 333