Students influence renowned war memorial

Seven La Trobe University planning students have cut their teeth on a masterplan for the state’s second-most significant war memorial site – the Memorial Cross Reserve at the top of Mount Macedon.

Attracting up to 5,000 visitors on ANZAC Day, and many more throughout the year, the reserve includes a memorial cross, heritage gardens, tearooms, picnic area and commemorative plaques depicting war history.

The students’ contribution included face-to-face surveys of residents living on the mountain, and in nearby townships – and then developing recommendations for the masterplan.

The masterplan was launched by Mary-Anne Thomas MP, State Member for Macedon, and Rob Mitchell MP, Federal Member for McEwen.

La Trobe lecturer, Mr David Robb, said helping develop the masterplan was both a challenging and enriching experience for the students.

“This project gave the students a chance to take all the knowledge and skills they had learnt in the classroom and apply it to something that will have a significant community impact.

“It exposed them to a whole range of important networking opportunities – including with government, industry and community members,” Mr Robb said.

Mr Robb said La Trobe jumped at the chance to bring student expertise into the project.

“Opportunities like this are vital in ensuring our students are career-ready when they complete their courses – and this project was no exception,” he said.

La Trobe student, Callum Murphy, said being involved in the project was an inspiring experience.

“Some aspects of urban planning can’t be taught in the classroom – and that’s where being involved in projects like this one is so beneficial.

“Everyone who participated now has new knowledge that they are keen to apply to other projects,” Mr Murphy said.

La Trobe student, Nakita Thompson, said the project was of her greatest learning experiences at university.

“Not many urban planning students have the opportunity to create a masterplan while still studying – the Bendigo La Trobe Planning students are uniquely privileged in this way."

The masterplan was developed for the reserve’s Committee of Management, in response to an identified need to upgrade facilities, improve site maintenance and enhance visitor experience.

Committee of Management member, Mr Terry Larkins, said the current level of visitation is placing pressure on existing infrastructure and facilities.

“Visitation will continue to increase with growth in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and Macedon region.

“This masterplan gives the committee a program to move forward and attract funds to upgrade and manage the reserve, and improve the recreational and cultural experience for visitors and local residents,” Mr Larkins said.

The ten-year plan includes improvements to visitor facilities, car parking, water management, view corridors, signage, educational resources and the commemorative environment.

The masterplan working group comprised representatives from La Trobe, the Committee of Management, Parks Victoria and Macedon Ranges Shire Council.

The Mount Macedon Memorial Cross Reserve is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register as the second most significant war memorial site in Victoria, after the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

Media contact: Kate O’Connor – k.o’connor@latrobe.edu.au – 5444 7415 / 0436 189 629

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