Grampians Peaks Trail (Gariwerd)

  • 2022

  • Architectural
    Place Design

Designed By:

  • McGregor Coxall with Noxon Giffen
  • OPS Engineers

Commissioned By:

Parks Victoria

Designed In:


Spanning 160km, the Grampians Peaks Trail (Gariwerd; GPT) will conserve, protect, and celebrate the Victorian wilderness’ unique beauty while achieving the highest possible grade of environmental sensitivity. A landscape-led collaboration culminated in a world-class hiking experience that curates the various contexts, stories, histories, and conditions of 11 hiker camp locations.

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  • The brief for GPT demanded designs that deeply connected to landscape and enhance hiking experiences as they evolved through diverse terrain. Fundamental were three key elements: a celebration of Gariwerd with landscape as the hero, recognition of scale and diversity of terrain through site responsive designs, and the adoption of design strategies for construction and maintenance that respond to the trail’s remote nature. Design called upon high-quality accommodation solutions, optimised for walker experiences through a focus on arrival experience, site appreciation, awareness of site-specific conditions, and enabling of social interaction between walkers whilst maintaining a level of privacy and remoteness.

  • New minimalistic campsites scattered along the Gariwerd wilderness feature amenities restricted to essentials of tent platforms, communal areas, shelters, and toilets – amplifying the immersive hiker experience with an appropriate level of comfort. A considered and evolving selection of natural materials was used throughout, responding to the specific nature, colours and textures of each individual campsite. Designed to bring campers together while offering privacy, the Communal Hiker Shelter provides a central breezeway link with an enclosed gathering space and separate food preparation area. Large sliding doors and outdoor decks allow spaces to be protectively enclosed or opened to the landscape beyond.

  • Campsites ‘touch the ground lightly’; Gariwerd’s landscape is the hero. Architecture offers protection from the elements without completely inhibiting sensations of nature. Off-grid campsites are designed with mindfulness to guidelines and tracks; intuitive circulation allows for more sustainable campsites that minimise public access to dense vegetation. In complement, site greywater is treated to the highest possible standards through passive systems. Working with Traditional Owners, clear guidelines and boundaries for landform, ecology, spatial typology, and cultural immersion were clearly outlined – bringing visitors closer to rich Aboriginal culture of the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung peoples who’ve lived in these ranges for millennia.

  • The trail’s remoteness necessitates a specific design response for construction that minimises ongoing maintenance. Design adopts a unitised structural module allowing prefabrication both for economy and ease of construction limited to helicopter access. GPT will bring an important economic and tourism development opportunity for the local community, the region, and Victoria as a key nature-based tourism destination in Australia. The project aims to increase the total number of walkers from 13,800 in 2015 to over 34,000 walkers by 2025 and is forecasted to generate more than $6 million of economic benefit for the region.