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What is happening

The Committee of Management and Friends of this unique recreation trail appeal for your support to save this trail.

The Minister for Environment and Conservation Sherryl Garbutt is threatening this recreation trail with her decision to halt development at Maroondah Highway to allow a school to lease a 500m section of the reserve in Lilydale for yard purposes.

As a result one farmer this month lodged an application to close 2km of the trail through their property claiming they are entitled to be treated in the same manner as the Sisters of Mercy Property Group. Last week the Minister’s office suggested the sale of the 101 year old railway reserve to the school as part of a landswap deal which would send trail users along a drainage easement beside paling fences for 300m – a poor compromise compared to the magnificent views and gentle gradient of the old railway.

The land in question is zoned public parkland recreation under the Shire of Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme - a zoning achieved after extensive community consultation.

Department of Natural Resources and Environment consultants concluded the school’s security concerns and access needs can be resolved with appropriate security fencing, crossings and screen plantings.

Yarra Ranges Shire has set aside $150,000 towards a pedestrian bridge over Maroondah Highway and is supporting the Committee but they need to hear from the users.

The school principal, Bernard Dobson claims the trail represented safety risks to students exposing them to drug dealers and pornography pushers. He says students will be disrupted in their classrooms. The nearest classroom is some 100-150m above the trail up a very steep hill.

See the site for yourself at Melway reference is Map 38 G 2. You will note the topography of the site which isolates the former railway line from the classrooms, the historic bridge and two crossings and the hot house and small horticultural area – the only use being made of this public land today.

The committee is committed to working with the school to resolve security and access issues.