|Yarra viewed from Main Trail|
|Christmas Hills zoom view from the Big Paddock|
Occupying an area of some 350 hectares (1.5 x 3 km - 800 acres) it opened in 1999 with the release of Stage One residential development, with the Jack Nicklaus-designed St John Golf Course opening in 2000.
The construction of the Stage Two, the Henley Golf Course, has recently been completed, and opened in 2006. The planning of Stage Three: Botanica, a residential development of apartments and villas, is under way.
The complex is huge. The St John Course and Country Club is located in Chirnside Park - the Henley Course is situated in the Christmas Hills district. A road bridge over the Yarra connects the two Courses.
Management of the area is carried out jointly by Melbourne Water, the Shires of Yarra Ranges and Nillumbuk, and the Country Club.
There has been bitter, continuing and strong resentment by environmental groups to this massive commercial development in a rural area which is regarded as one of the few original surviving flood-plain locations near to Melbourne.
There are Wetlands incorporated in both Courses, which I visited on Saturday afternoonMay 22, 2010, as a 6 km hike.
Walking access to the main formed trail is from the stile and gate at the canoe launching ramp at the end of Lower Homestead Rd. This trail follows the Yarra and main wetlands/lagoon next to a high metal fence on the boundary of the St John Course.
This trail continues past a viewing platform, then across the bridge over the Yarra, to the entrance of the Henley Course.
Beyond the bridge, another walking trail then follows the Yarra past a series of billabongs, on the edge of the Course, eventually reaching private property in open farmland. Just beyond are the foothills of the Sugarloaf Reservoir catchment area.
Large mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos were seen grazing in the large cleared area beyond the northern perimeter.
Back in 1973, it was proposed to build a huge reservoir, to be known as the Yarra Brae Dam, as part of the Sugarloaf Reservoir project. This would have flooded all of the riverflats and farmland for some 20 km east of a massive concrete retaining wall just past Warrandyte, out as far as Yarra Glen.
The Yarra Brae Dam was abandoned due to fierce community pressure.
See all of the Photos of my visit!
Information about the complex is at