From Caves to Community: Preserving Kinley's Rich Cultural Legacy

July 3, 2024

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Intrapac’s Kinley project in Lilydale is Victoria’s largest residential infill project. Covering an immense 163 Ha area, the site is of significant pre- and post-colonial historic value. Located on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people, Kinley encapsulates a rich tapestry of cultural heritage, geological significance, and post-colonial development, spanning from Aboriginal traditions to 19th and 20th-century farming, mining, and lime processing activities.

Kinley’s rich cultural heritage spanning Aboriginal traditions to 19th century farming and mining will be celebrated in the Cultural Heritage Plan


Before being transformed into a limestone quarry, the site was known locally as Cave Hill and housed a system of limestone caves. These caves hold a special place in Aboriginal oral tradition and are a key component of the site’s cultural heritage. Ongoing consultation with Wurundjeri Elders and the implementation of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) has identified numerous Aboriginal places throughout the site.

“It’s been incredible to spend time with relevant Aboriginal stakeholders, including the Wurundjeri Elders, to learn more about their connection with the Kinley site and develop strategies to honour and preserve their cultural heritage”, explained Intrapac’s Development Director Anthony Jansen.

Prior to European settlement Lilydale and surrounds were by the Wurundjeri people whose history and stories will be a central focus at Kinley throughout the open space network.


The land was acquired in 1878 by David Mitchell, a notable building contractor and entrepreneur who established a limestone quarry and dairy farm on the site. David Mitchell’s association with the site endures to this day, owing not only to the relatively recent ceasing of quarrying activity but also his role as a local politician in the early 20th century and as the father of internationally acclaimed opera singer Dame Nellie Melba. The Mitchell family owned the site until as recently as 2002.

“The site’s industrial and agricultural infrastructure presents a range of exciting opportunities to retain historic structures and create a vibrant heritage precinct within Kinley that will be focused on community, retail, entertainment and hospitality offerings”, explained Intrapac CEO Maxwell Shifman.

Kinley’s Heritage Interpretation Plan

Kinley’s Heritage Interpretation Plan includes a cohesive interpretive trail connecting key heritage locations throughout the site. This trail will be supported by free WiFi in the open space reserve, enabling the site’s historical stories to be told through interactive digital interpretive signage, enhancing the visitor experience.

Key locations along the proposed interpretive trail include:

  • CHMP Park (working title) to Hilltop Park, to the Escarpment Park: Focusing on Wurundjeri cultural heritage values.
  • Wetlands to the Escarpment Park: Highlighting geological significance.
  • Escarpment Park to Dairy and Bacon Factories: Reflecting the site’s farming history.
  • Dairy and Bacon Factories to Limestone Works: Showcasing processing and industrial history.
  • Limestone Works to Northern Reserve, and to the CHMP Park: Providing a comprehensive site context.

The Western Precinct

The heritage plan for the Western Precinct of Kinley was recently endorsed by the Yarra Valley Council. It encompasses several significant heritage sites, each with a unique emphasis, whose final iterations are subject to Council approval:

  • CHMP Park: This park, situated to the south of the precinct, will retain an Aboriginal cultural heritage site featuring a clay-ball hearth within a landscaped local park. The CHMP Park will potentially offer open-space facilities, including a play space, plaza, yarning circle, elevated boardwalks, and lawns. The landscaping will incorporate indigenous vegetation with some areas of lawn and deciduous trees. A tiered limestone retaining wall to the park’s southeast will provide a thematic entry point to the Kinley neighbourhood.
  • Central Arc Park: This park will highlight the site’s geology and feature interpretive signage narrating the story of the limestone bed and Cave Hill Sandstone.
  • Northern Reserve: This area focuses on the site’s industrial history and provides views of its lime processing equipment dating back to the late 19th century. It is an appropriate space to introduce David Mitchell’s story.

“In addition to the Western Precinct, Hilltop Park, a key element of the Eastern Precinct, is set to be delivered within the next 12 months as part of an early works package designed to ensure Kinley’s first residents have access to great recreational infrastructure,” explained Shifman. The park will focus on Wurundjeri cultural heritage values, providing spaces and interpretive signage that honours the land’s traditional custodians.

The development of the Western Precinct is a collaborative effort involving ongoing consultation with Wurundjeri Elders and Heritage Victoria. Intrapac is working alongside landscape architects, signage designers, and other specialists to bring the Western Precinct and an initial iteration of Hilltop Park in the East to life, creating a space that respects and celebrates the diverse heritage of the Kinley site.

“We’re excited to make Kinley a shining example of how heritage preservation can be integrated into modern development. By honouring the Aboriginal cultural heritage, geological significance, and historical usage of the site, we can preserve the site’s rich history and educate and engage the community.”

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