MacKenzie Falls Gorge Trail

hansen partnership: We were 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. Innovation was integral to the analysis and design process given the remote location and lack of conventional data. Accessibility was a major challenge. The site is 3.5 hours drive from Melbourne and a further half hour on foot across steep terrain. Quality aerial photography and survey information was unavailable; so gathering information on site was crucial. We used alternate 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.

The gorge’s pristine beauty inspired a natural emphasis in our design. Manmade infrastructure was only used to assist accessibility where natural elements would not suffice. While the infrastructure contrasts through shape and texture, it was designed to blend with the landscape in colour and form. The constructed elements purposefully mimic the immediate landscape. An example is the elevated walkway: jagged in form and positioned within arm’s length of the adjacent escarpment wall to offer further connection with nature. The visually dominant manmade elements contrast yet compliment the setting whilst the elements built with natural materials recede with the landscape, allowing the continued dominance of nature. The final trail alignment provides visitors with a more intimate journey through the MacKenzie Falls Gorge. The previous trail alignment led visitors up a ridge line, which deprived them of views and an intimate experience of the lower falls. The small section of trail now mends the severed link to the Historic Zumsteins Picnic Area further downstream.

Data

Landscape Architecture: hansen partnership
Location: Northern Grampians Rd, Zumsteins VIC 3401
Year completed: 2013
Photography credits: Andrew Lloyd

Awards:
-Finalist – World Architecture News (WAN)
Landscape Category
-Best in Category Award for Architectural Design –
Urban Design & Public Spaces, Good Design Awards, 2015
-Design Award – Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Victoria, 2014
-People’s Choice Award – Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Victoria, 2014

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