The Cork Oak Path is amongst the earliest surviving works at the Convent precinct from the 1860s. It is a treasure, providing a vital link between the Convent and the Birrarung, but currently closed to the public due to safety issues.
We are thrilled to announce that the Cork Oak Path is receiving the attention it needs and will soon be open to the public again.
Your generous donations are helping
This is all possible thanks to the generous donations from 109 of you to our end of year 2022 Always Welcome Appeal, support from the Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation, and investment from the Convent. This generosity has enabled the Convent team to work with highly credentialled heritage experts to begin restoration works.
Currently we have commenced the project with focused and meticulous excavation work to undertake the necessary assessment of the underlying conditions of the Cork Oak Path. Through these works, and to our amazement, we have unexpectedly uncovered large tracks of the original spoon drains, and discovered that the path outline is intact.
The restoration will enable community use of the path and ultimately greater precinct engagement. Over time, other adjoining pathways will also be repaired enabling safer and more aesthetically engaging access to the Heritage Gardens and nearby buildings.
Architect Peter Williams, AM, Director of Williams Boag Architects, who is the project lead working with dbg Projects, says “The Cork Oak Path is one of the lost assets of the site being what was once a primary access to the Convent. Over the years accretions of soil, some plantings, weeds and adjustments to the margins, has meant definition and detail has been lost, and it has been a forgotten place.
“What was not obvious until a couple of days of careful soil removal was undertaken, was what remains of the path, and what clues this gives us. While the original path is not intact, the process of soil removal has revealed brick detail across the path, the path outline, and the spoon drains. This is an exciting discovery of rich information that will help us eventually with the construction of the path.
“A detailed feature survey of the area extending back to the Convent shows all the trees and vegetation within the path corridor boundaries and coupled with the existent site evidence will unlock the design and documentation, and eventually the construction of the path. We know, for instance, that there are missing Cork Oak trees. Given the slope of the land, and the large amount of water flow that can happen, we need to work careful gradients linked with a resilient surface for the path that also gives the sense of a rural walk.”
Peter said that the path design would also integrate a subtle low energy lighting installation to extend the usability of the path in the darker times of the day.
“It’s wonderful to be working with Peter and his team again after their incredible work on the restoration of the North side of the Magdalen Laundry”, said ACF Chief Operating Officer, John Di Natale. Most recently, Peter, with dbg Projects, completed the part restoration of the Infirmary building – which is now filled with music as students from the Australian National Academy of Music are using this space for their classes.
The ACF expects works on the Cork Oak Path to be completed by the end of April 2024.