MacKenzie Falls Gorge Trail
Engaged by Parks Victoria, Hansen Partnership developed a parks recovery Master Plan for the Mackenzie Falls Precinct after the destruction of a key footbridge in early 2012. The proposal defined a bold design solution for enhanced visitor experiences at one of Australia’s largest waterfalls, located with the Grampians National Park, Victoria.
Hansen’s Master Plan proposal included a realignment of the Mackenzie Falls Trail path and a new footbridge crossing the Mackenzie River. The new alignment takes visitors through steep and at times challenging terrains with new steel bridges and expanded mesh platforms bolted into the rockface of the trail.
- The robust nature of the materials and the simple yet defined nature of the structure allows the design to stand up against both flooding and fires, both common in the Grampians National Park.
- The low impact implementation, and, selection of hardwiring materials that are also aesthetically responsive to the surrounding environment provides a strong precedent for the possible implementation of a coastal trail along the Port Broughton foreshore.
The resulting new trail designed by hansen was inspired by the pristine natural beauty of the gorge, traversing the river through steep and challenging terrain, setting up dramatic spatial sequences that better connect people to the landscape.
Steve Schutt, landscape architecture director at hansen, says the remoteness of the site and lack of base data meant the team had to rely on more basic, hands-on techniques, which in turn contributed to the delivery of a highly site-specific response.
“Accessibility was a major challenge; the site is a four and a half hour drive from Melbourne at the base of the MacKenzie Falls in the Grampians National Park,” says Schutt.
“Quality aerial photography and survey information was unavailable, so gathering information on site was crucial. We used techniques such as on-site visual mapping and photo assessment to deliver a site-specific report including new trail alignment options and a ‘kit of parts’ document detailing typical details construction.
“Every rock face, landscape element and natural feature were inspected and documented through sketch design and on-site mapping using pen and paper,” he says.
Schutt says the newly aligned footbridge, expanded mesh steps and walkway contribute to the trail’s presence and identity, while the sensitive design approach delivered a sound framework for ongoing management of the area, balancing increased visitor traffic with conservation and preservation requirements.
The destruction of a footbridge during flooding delivered a unique opportunity to implement a new trail alignment re-connecting MacKenzie Falls & the Zumsteins Picnic Ground in the Grampians National Park. The site’s remoteness & lack of base data meant we had to rely on more basic, hands-on techniques which in turn contributed to a highly site-specific response, emphasising the natural features & creating a more inspired route. A newly aligned footbridge, expanded mesh steps & walkway contribute to the trail’s presence & identity. The sensitive design approach delivered a sound framework for ongoing management of the area, balancing increased visitor traffic with conservation & preservation requirements.
“it’s easy to succumb to the beauty and scale of the landscape around you. But every now and then, you need some guidance – a light touch on the shoulder to point out something spectacular, or a gentle deviation in a trail to focus your attention on something that could have easily passed you by. The Mackenzie Falls Trail achieves this experiential quality in a way that is so subtle, it’s likely most people won’t realise they’ve been led astray. The standout quality is the focus on preserving the landscape qualities of the site the trail traverses; using materials that reflect its natural setting, and quietly emphasising the craggy features of wilderness it passes through. What could have easily been a ‘free-for-all’ across a stream has become a chance to take in a snapshot of something spectacular – a coming together of wild nature and designed infrastructure, in a way that is harmonious to both. This is a project that all landscape architects will aspire to visit.” – Jury comment / AILA National Awards
The award-winning MacKenzie Falls Gorge Trail project moulds innovation with a back-to-basics approach to deliver a bold design solution and enhanced visitor experience for one of Australia’s largest waterfalls, located within the Grampians National Park, Victoria.
hansen partnership was engaged by Parks Victoria to prepare a concept plan for the MacKenzie Falls Precinct under their flood recovery program after floods caused the destruction of a key footbridge in early 2012.
We worked closely with Parks Victoria staff to gain an appreciation of the natural setting close to the cascading waterfall within the reserve. The remoteness of the site and lack of base data meant we had to rely on more basic, hands-on techniques such on-site visual mapping and photo assessment, which in turn contributed to the delivery of a highly site-specific response.
Our design included the realignment of the MacKenzie Falls Trail Path and a new footbridge crossing the MacKenzie River. The new trail traverses the river through steep and challenging terrain, setting up dramatic spatial sequences that better connect people to the landscape. The path alignment identified a more appropriate and interesting route and features a newly aligned footbridge and expanded mesh walkways that are better integrated with the natural surroundings. The trail’s new steel bridges and stairs are bolted into the rock face, providing robust infrastructure with the ability to withstand flooding and fires – both common in the Grampians National Park.
hansen’s sensitive design approach has resulted in the delivery of a sound framework for the ongoing management of the area, balancing increased visitor traffic with conservation and preservation requirements.
Project name: MacKenzie Falls Gorge Trail
Location: Northern Grampians Rd, Zumsteins, Victoria 3401, Australia
Coordinates: -37.110957, 142.408654
Construction Period: 2012 – 2013
Completion Date/Year: 2014
Client / Owner / Developer: Parks Victoria
Landscape Architects: Hansen Partnership – 4/136 Exhibition St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
- Steve Schutt, Anton Malishev, Parks Victoria: Cameron Sanderson, Andrew Roach, David Roberts, Adam Nitschke
Construction manager: Parks Victoria
Text Description: © Courtesy of Hansen Partnership, Parks Victoria, AILA Awards
Images: © Hansen Partnership, Andrew Lloyd