Little Yarra River Trail project nearing completion

A new trail is set to link up the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail with more of the Warburton Highway. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Callum Ludwig

The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is set to link up further up the Warburton Highway as the next stage of a Melbourne Water project begins.

As part of the Healthy Waterways Strategy’s efforts to improve the health of the Little Yarra River in Yarra Junction, weed control and revegetation have been carried out and a new walking trail will be constructed this year.

Manager of Water Resources and the Upper Yarra at Melbourne Water Ross Bleazby said Melbourne Water is really excited to begin the next stage of this important Yarra Junction community project, the construction of the Little Yarra River Trail.

“The revegetation work will protect the river banks and provide important habitat for native animals, while the trail will open up the area for locals and visitors to enjoy, improving connection with the river,” he said.

“With construction of the trail starting now, weather permitted, we hope to open this to the public in mid-2024.”

The walking trail will be built on public land and connect to the rail trail up the bridge on the Warburton Highway across the road from the Blue Lotus Water Garden and Gladysdale Bakehouse.

Wesburn resident Marie Pleuger, who lives near the proposed trail, has been calling on improved pedestrian access between Yarra Junction and Millgrove and said it is fabulous news.

“I’m really pleased to hear that and it’s a good first step to improving safety in the area,” she said.

“Thinking widely of elderly residents and the Shire of Yarra Ranges’ aim to improve the health and well-being of elderly and disabled residents, it will improve accessibility,”

“A crossing linking that for residents all along the highway would be invaluable to improve the lifestyle of people who currently can’t safely access the rail trail.”

Ms Pleuger has been calling for a crossing on the highway for years as she relies on the bus service or footpaths to travel due to her suffering from a genetic form of macular dystrophy that has deteriorated her vision in her direct line of sight. She joined the Yarra Ranges Council’s Disability Advisory Committee in 2023.

There is no permanent pedestrian crossing between the Yarra Junction township and Millgrove. Ms Pleuger hopes the construction of the Little Yarra River Trail can help drive a new push for the project.

A number of climbing and scrambling species of weeds (e.g. blackberry, honeysuckle and ivy), and woody weed species (e.g. willows, holly, elms and sycamore maples) were removed for the project and replaced with local indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses on a 2km stretch of land to stabilise the river banks and provide habitat for naive animals.