Plans go back to 1929
Plans for a trail along the Darebin Creek go as far back as 1929, when the Metropolitan Plan for Melbourne included green fingers along the urban waterways, including along Darebin Creek.
Plans in mid 1990's
More recently, the off-road shared pedestrian and bicycle trail along Darebin Creek, and its general alignment was proposed in the Lower Darebin Creek Concept Plan, published in 1996.
Bicycle Victoria called for the completion of the link as far back as 1995 and in 1997 the City of Boroondara approved both the plan and the funding for the bridge over the Yarra. Unfortunately in 1998 LaTrobe Golf Club refused to sell land needed for the link. In 1999 the Boroondara planning permit lapsed and was extended, but in 2001 when it lapsed again a further extension was refused. Nevertheless, in 2002 Boroondara endorsed a Willsmere Park Management Plan which included the bridge, but LaTrobe Golf Club continued its opposition.
Then in mid 2000's
In 2004 a concept design was completed by Parks Victoria and in 2006 Premier Bracks announced $2 million funding for the project. Then in 2009 the shared trail was extended to its current end point, at a tree on the boundary of Darebin just short of Heidelberg Rd.
2009 VCAT decision
Having developed an overall design for the remainder of the link Parks Victoria embarked on a project to have the necessary planning permit applications submitted to the three relevant councils, Banyule, Yarra and Boroondara, simultaneously. Although the project was supported by all three councils, Parks Victoria arranged for all three applications go to VCAT so that all the objections, from individuals and organisations on both sides of the river, could be dealt with once and for all.
The VCAT hearing began in February 2009 but adjourned after only a day and a half. This was due to Parks Victoria entering into new negotiations with the LaTrobe Golf Club, which was now ready to accept a path through the golf course with some conditions. The hearing resumed in July of the same year, and after receiving and hearing many submissions both in favour of the link and against it VCAT ruled in its favour.
2010 to 2015
During 2010 to 2012 a more detailed design was completed for the Banyule section of the trail, and a path that will provide access to the trail from the Ivanhoe Boulevard through Sparks Reserve was commenced. However completion of this section was delayed by rain. The section of trail under Heidelberg Road to Sparkes Reserve was finally open in December 2013.
The Community Coalition's greatest concern at this time was no state government funding was allocated for the final, relatively expensive stage through the LaTrobe Golf Club and the bridge across the Yarra. And without this there would be no link!
In late 2012 the then Baillieu Government committed $18 million to complete the trail connection. Significantly VicRoads was designated with the authority to plan and oversee construction. However at this time, the trail still faced major hurdles including opposition from Boroondara Council. Boroondara Council owns Wilsmere Reserve where our trail joins the Main Yarra Trail. The other hurdles related to the need to negotiate and purchase land from Alphington Grammar School and LaTrobe Golf Course.
Construction of the trail from Sparkes Reserve along and across the creek, twice, and into Napier Waller Reserve finally commenced in late 2014 and was completed in 2015. As at December 2015 the trail stops at a bridge halfway across the creek before landing in golf course land.
In late 2015 Boroondara Council voted unanimously to support the application to construct the trail. So the stage is almost set for the final act. Negotiations still need to be tied off with the LaTrobe Golf Course and a tender let for construction. VicRoads indicated that construction may commence by mid 2016 and everything completed by mid 2017.
2016 to 2018
The final two years saw the completion of the trail and bridges including the final impressive arc over the Yarra River. The trail was officially opened on Sunday 25th March 2018. The opening was witnessed by a large and very happy crowd. Since the opening, the trail has been well used on a daily basis.
However from the Community Coalition perspective the trail is still missing a safe crossing from Sparks Reserve through to Alphington. This crossing has been committed to by the State Government and planning is underway.