Major Roads Projects Victoria

Barwon Heads Road Level Crossing Removal


Bird footprints, ochre, and views to the You Yangs. Those are the signs of real Indigenous engagement in this new bridge project.

The site is a regional road near Geelong. It’s on Wadawurrung Country surrounded by a flood plain and a wetland. Around it is farmland, manufacturing and low-density housing. There are long views to the You Yangs – those smallish mountains that burst quite suddenly from the flat landscape around them.

Although this project exists to widen a road and remove a level crossing, it brought rich potential for connections to Country and to the species that live there.

BKK and clients Major Roads Projects Victoria worked closely with David Jones and Stephanie Skinner from the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. Led by the places and stories they wished to celebrate, we worked together on design elements that enrich the project immensely through a strong sense of place.

It could exist nowhere else.

Major Roads Projects Victoria
Geelong, VIC

Ochre from nearby Torquay

The project’s main element is a bridge over the railway line to replace a level crossing.

The bridge’s extensive retaining walls feature a traditional Wadawurrung pattern. One of the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners sketched it on a sticky note and, through a back-and-forth process, it developed into a repeating motif that we have incorporated into the wall panels.

In Torquay, further west along Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road, there is an ochre deposit where the Wadawurrung people traditionally gathered pigment for ceremonial and artistic uses.

The wall was carefully matched to this colour during the co-design process with the Wadawurrung.

Artist and Wadawurrung Elder Stephanie Skinner drew a series of illustrations of a swan in flight, which we incorporated into the barrier of the shared user path along the bridge. The transparent screens maintain views across Country and east to the You Yangs.


The shared user path has the footprint patterns of familiar indigenous birds including swans, pelicans, egrets and Latham’s Snipe stencilled into the concrete.

The site borders the Jerringot wetland, historically a rich food bowl area for the Wadawurrung people. It’s home to the protected Latham’s Snipe, which migrates there every year from Japan, and the endangered Yarra Pygmy Perch.

We created a landmark for the wetland: a sign made of an array of angled fins marked with the Wadawurrung name JERRINGOT. The letters appear and disappear from view as you pass along the bridge in a dynamic display that expresses the fragility of the place.

The bridge’s wide shared user path cantilevers over the sensitive landscape in order to preserve it. There’s space to sit and look out over the Jerringot wetland.

Further along Barwon Heads Road, the bridge over Waurn Ponds Creek was replaced and the design team decided to retain the redundant structures beneath the new bridge. Removing them would disturb the creek bed habitat, particularly for the Yarra Pygmy Perch, so we left them alone.

It’s a three-span bridge, which makes for a light structure and a lower height compared to other designs. It also minimises the length and visual bulk of the reinforced earth retaining walls.

Level crossing removal

This is one of seven level crossing removals BKK has worked on for the Victorian Government. It is located where the Melbourne-Warrnambool country railway line crosses Barwon Heads Road near Station Road between Marshall and Charlemont.

It involves duplicating around 4km of Barwon Heads Road from two lanes to four and replacing the level crossing with a road bridge over the railway line.

Besides the roadway and shared user path, the bridge has bike lanes, protection screens, privacy screens, new street lighting, signage and landscaping. The landscape is rich and low maintenance, incorporating indigenous trees, shrubs and ground covers.

Originally the road corridor was dominated by cars, and the road had poorly defined pedestrian and cycling paths. But more and more cyclists have begun using it, partly because it’s a leg in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Also, Barwon Heads Road is part of the City of Greater Geelong’s Principal Bikeway Network.

Therefore, generous bike lanes were essential.

Surrounded by mainly flat terrain, the elevated bridge offers travellers a view across the Barwon River floodplain and towards the city. It brings a sense of arrival to Geelong.


Major Roads Projects Victoria


Urban Design & Infrastructure




2020 – 2023


Geelong, VIC


Derek Swalwell