Warburton Mountain Bike Destination

Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Project

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.