Yarra Valley Rail Trail Extension

Feasibility Study and Master Plan

The Yarra Ranges Council engaged with Cox Architecture in partnership with Anthony Burton & Associates to engage with the community and write a feasibility study and master plan for the staged construction of an extension to the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail. This extension adds over 40km of rail trail and joins the towns of Yarra Glen and Healesville to the existing rail trail.

The role of Anthony Burton & Associates in the process included:

  • A functional analysis of the project
  • Community Engagement
  • Route Planning and Advice
  • Tourism Analysis

Staged Approach

The team identified the development of a three staged approach to construction.

Stage 1 via the Lilydale to Yarra Glen within the railway reserve. Stage 2 to Healesville within the railway reserve and in private property. Stage 3 to Woori Yallock using the Yarra River reserve and the Coranderrk Aqueduct.

Community Engagement

Anthony Burton & Associates and Cox Architecture organised and managed the consultation process to support the client team navigate through polarized community views on about the project.

The project had a number of significant challenges that the team needed to overcome including:

  • Interaction between users and the heritage railway
  • Biosecurity
  • Working with the utility providers (such as Melbourne Water)
  • Land tenure issues and engagement with local land holders

Tourism Analysis

Anthony Burton & Associates undertook a complete review of the visitor profile to build the case for investment in the rail trail. This work identified a strong return on investment and the that the users of the rail trail are high value tourists:

  • highly educated;
  • employed as professionals or managers;
  • earn above the average wage;
  • travel with groups or families; and
  • virtually all of them use the ‘internet’ to find information about their last cycle tourism holiday.

The masterplan considers all aspects of the new trail and economic positioning of the Yarra Valley as Australia’s leading Cycle Destination.


Warburton Mountain Bike Destination

Project Master Plan

In 2016 Yarra Ranges Council (in partnership with Parks Victoria, DELWP, Melbourne Water and the local community and interest groups) engaged with Cox Architecture (in partnership with Anthony Burton Associates & Makin Trax) to develop a master plan to position Warburton as an internationally significant mountain bike destination.

The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Trail was designed to appeal to those already visiting or considering visiting the Yarra Valley, providing them with a reason to extend their stay and add significant value to the local and regional tourism offering.

The trails were designed to attract a new visitor demographic to Warburton – dedicated, core mountain bikers; a growing tourism segment that has proven to be capable of drawing new tourism spending to rural and regional areas.

In the first full year of completion, it is estimated that the trail network at Warburton could attract 130,000 mountain bike visitors (120,000 day visitors and 10,000 overnight visitors). The project will revitalise Warburton, promote the town and support the other naturebased recreation activities & on road cycling that is unique to the area.

The role Anthony Burton & Associates undertook in the process included:

Functional Analysis

Anthony Burton & Associates undertook a functional analysis of the project reviewing existing visitor desires, usage patterns, existing trail and path use and desire lines. We reviewed existing plans of management, concurrent ecological reports and relevant legislation. The master plan area Much traversed land that is heavily researched by the Australian National University, is home to significant flora and fauna and is covered by the Australian environmental legislation (EPBC).

Desktop mapping and route planning

Anthony Burton & Associates used the functional analysis to inform the development of a desk-top alignment for the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Project. This alignment considered the target market, topography, land tenure, communities of ecological significance and key sites of interest. The team worked closely with land managers and ecologists to minimise and mitigate impacts while maintaining the integrity of the concept.

Ground truthing and route planning

The Anthony Burton & Associates team got their boots dirty Ground Truthing the entire desk-topped aligned route. Ground Truthing is refers to identifying and testing a desk-topped alignment with actual information found on the ground. This was done safely, in remote and rugged wilderness.

Design and GIS

All information from Ground Truthing was recorded electronically and incorporated into our GIS system. Detailed trail descriptions and photos were used to inform the development of the community consultation package, the final design, and ultimately develop the tender and works packages for the project.

Community & Stakeholder Consultation

Anthony Burton & Associates and Cox Architecture organised and managed the project consultation process to support the client team navigate through polarized community views on about the project.


The project had a number of significant challenges that the team needed to overcome to deliver the project. These included:

  • Working within an environmental sensitive site
  • Ground Truthing safely in remote wilderness locations
  • Designing around significant flora and fauna sensitivities
  • Designing with traditional owners and heritage sensitivities
  • Working with the utility providers (Such as Melbourne Water)
  • Incorporating the needs and desires of local amateur trail designers / builders


The master plan incorporates trail design is like no other in Australia. The signature trail, DroppaK starts at the top of Mount Donna Buang and finishes in the centre of Warburton descending a vertical kilometre. The trail navigates some of Australia’s most beautiful native rain forest.

The masterplan considers all aspects of the new trail network and economic positioning of Warburton. It recognises the additional benefits that are associated with the trail.

These First-Class Trails, designed by in conjunction with ‘Makin Trax’ will be the comparable to the best in the world. Once implemented Warburton will become a mountain bike destination to rival any other, maximising the opportunity for further economic development.


ACT Public Open Space Project

Consultation, Planning and Facilitation

In 2017 the ACT Government engaged Anthony Burton & Associates as part of the Better Suburbs Program to work with them and the community to identify ways to, and locations aimed at, the Activation of Public Open Space. Think coffee vans, wine bars, festivals, community gardens, fitness and health sessions, and markets amongst a whole host of other potential activities.

Anthony Burton & Associates worked to develop a pilot program to allow the government to proactively seek proposals from the business and community sectors for the activation of public open space. The program was to test the proof of concept of using non-government entities to enliven space and to increase the use of public places.


Anthony Burton & Associates undertook a review of existing open space. We prepared a matrix of tables that identified the nature of the open space and the types of activations appropriate for the location. This was coupled with an activation needs assessment and recommendations of the social and physical infrastructure would be required to meet the project objective of creating activated public spaces.

This informed our recommendations of both appropriate activations and locations.


Anthony Burton & Associates reviewed and benchmarked other activation projects nationally and internationally. We used this benchmarking to determine criteria to identify and guide the community benefit for the project.

Community & Stakeholder Consultation

The project involved Anthony Burton & Associates proactively engaging with key government, community and commercial stakeholders identifying appropriate locations for activations of existing open space. We organised and managed the project consultation process to support the client team navigate through polarized community views on the project.

In summary, Anthony Burton & Associates reviewed the existing open space network, consulted with the community and benchmarked other comparable projects to provide the client with clear and concise recommendations based on this research.


Yarra Valley Equestrian Park

Feasibility Study

Anthony Burton & Associates was engaged by the Lilydale and Yarra Glen Hunt Club to determine if an equestrian centre on the site was possible, and if so, if it would be viable.

We reviewed regional demographics, identified industry benchmarks, undertook extensive community consultation and developed a high level, fully costed master plan for the site. In addition, Anthony Burton & Associates worked with the Club to identify an appropriate, viable management structure to professionally oversee the development and ongoing management of the facility.

The Feasibility Study has identified that, while small, the site is well suited to the staged development of a regional facility, capable of hosting regular regional events as well as a number of state, national and potentially international events.

The Feasibility Study is currently being used to develop significant funding proposals.


Goulburn Mulwaree Shire

Recreational Needs Assessment and Strategy

Anthony Burton & Associates in collaboration with Purdon Planning were engaged by the Goulburn Mulwaree Shire council to undertake the Goulburn Recreational Needs Assessment and Recreational Needs Strategy.

This review included an assessment of the current provision of recreational areas within the shire, the development of a series of recreational facility guiding principles for recreation facilities and the identification of viable locations of future facilities.

Demographic Analysis

A review and analysis of demographic data was undertaken, including projected population change, to identify the changing structure of age and gender cohorts. This information was mapped with analysis by district to show local spatial trends.

Community Consultation

Anthony Burton & Associates team with Purdon Planning developed a comprehensive consultation plan and stakeholder register allowing us to identify stakeholders and discuss facility and organisation operation, levels of patronage, opportunities for improvements in both capital works and maintenance.

Benefits and Costs

Anthony Burton & Associates team utilised the demographic analysis combined with benchmarking, tools including WHO HEAT and the community consultation determine the following for recreational facilities:

  • Health benefits
  • Economic costs
  • Environmental values

Identify Future Demands

The team used this information to:

  • Identify contemporary recreational trends and best practice.
  • Identify the future demands and spatial representation based on a best practice approach to provision of open space.
  • Prepare a cost-benefit analysis, leading to a monetised value of the health benefits of physical activity.
  • Identify estimates for the association of recreational facilities with the built environment and its impact on physical activity, and
  • Prepare a multi-cohort and multi-state proportional life table model that predicts changes in health-adjusted life years and health care costs as a function of changes in physical activity.

This work will allow Goulburn Mulwaree to gain an understanding the market place, and the potential products that can support and enhance the recreational needs of the community.


National Arboretum Canberra

Recreational Trails Master Plan and Visitor Experience

In 2014 we were appointed by the National Arboretum Canberra to develop a master plan for a pedestrian, equestrian and cycling trail network. Our aim was threefold:

  1. Improve the visitor access of the forests of the arboretum. We’d get people out of their cars and into the forests.
  2. Provide for active and passive uses of the arboretum. We’d make use of the topography and encourage people to experience its forests in a variety of ways like walking, running and riding.
  3. Celebrate the landscape setting and unique history of the National Arboretum. We’d make this a venue that was perfect for visitors and for residents. The design would to take users on a journey with unfolding views and evolving forest stories.

The network of trails was designed to grow and evolve with the Arboretum, enhancing its appeal, encouraging return visitation and meeting the recreational needs of the community.

Functional analysis

We undertook a functional analysis reviewing how people used Arboretum, where the existing paths and desire lines were and how the staff undertook maintenance of the site. The analysis also included projections of expected user patterns and suburban growth on the western flanks of the arboretum. This analysis allowed us to illustrate the opportunities for improving access to and across the entire site for people with disabilities, for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians as well as for vehicular circulation.

Community and stakeholder consultation

We organised and managed the targeted stakeholder consultation for the project and supported the client in gathering community views on how to improve the trail network within the arboretum.

Design and design intent

The completed master plan takes into account the needs of all users as well as the national significance of the park and reinforcing the unique character of the National Arboretum, its setting and its views. The design specifically allows for a flexible and organic trail design that meets the needs of the intended users as well as enabling ongoing efficient and effective maintenance of the Arboretum.

The master plan has informed the National Arboretums’ business case and budgeting allowing them attract additional funding and engage a suitably qualified and experienced trail building organisation. The trails identified in the master plan are currently being progressively delivered. Phase 1 and 2 were completed in 2016 and 2018 respectively. Phase 3 is currently under construction (2019).


Tuggeranong Town Square

Concept Plan Community Consultation

In 2017 the ACT Government engaged Anthony Burton & Associates to manage and facilitate consultation with key public stakeholder representatives in order to identify community needs and expectations for a significantly underused and under realised community and commercial asset, the Tuggeranong Town Square. This body of work informed and facilitated the feasibility studies and preliminary plans for the Town Square.


Prior to consultation we undertook a review of the existing planning framework for the Town Square and sourced other background material and studies of the region. This information aided in the development of a preliminary needs assessment that informed the initial design brief and helped to identify the key stakeholders.

Community & Stakeholder Consultation

We developed a comprehensive consultation plan and stakeholder register. This allowed the team to proactively engage with key government, community and commercial stakeholders, and identify their needs, wants and desires for the Town Square.

Planning for Tuggeranong project


During the community consultation we recorded, identified, and analysed opportunities, constraints, expectations and priorities for the project and made recommendations that encouraged visitation, public safety, security, accessibility, amenity, function and appearance.

Reporting and Advice

Our team worked closely with the community and the project team to facilitate the full and timely integration of all outcomes into a fully-fledged feasibility study, and completed concept plans which resulted in a successful $4M government capital investment into the community.

Tuggeranong Town Square