Cowies Hill and a deviation on Tarneit Road

The western suburbs of Melbourne lie on flat and otherwise featureless volcanic plains, covered by a grid of main roads. But out at Tarneit there is something to break the monotony – Cowies Hill, and a curious road deviation.

Water tower atop Cowies Hill in Tarneit

Cowies Hill is located between Sayers Road and Leakes Road, with Tarneit Road skirting the edge – but this isn’t an original feature.

Early years

Once upon a time the only feature atop Cowies Hill was a pair of Melbourne Water storage tanks.


Google Earth, March 2004

Surrounded empty paddocks.


Google Street View, December 2009

With Tarneit Road climbing straight up and over the hill.


Melway map 202 (1999)

Development commences

In 2000, Wyndham City Council received an application for the development of the land bordered by Sayers Road, Derrimut Road, Leakes Road and Davis Road, with the Cowies Hill Outline Development Plan prepared to guide the development and subdivision of this area.

Developer Peet purchased 65 hectares of land on Cowies Hill for $7.23 million in 2002, with the $83.4 million residential development ‘Tarneit Rise’ featuring 627 residential lots, a child-care centre site and a school site commenced in 2006, with views across the plains featuring strongly in promotional material from the developer.

Get in on the ground floor…

Can you see it? A safe place to bring up kids amongst new friends with every amenity. For those with a little imagination and a desire for a better life, The Rise, Tarneit could be the opportunity of a lifetime.

Rise above it all

Aspiring families now have the chance to own some of the best land in the fast-growing City of Wyndham. The Rise, Tarneit has the most elevated land in Wyndham with sweeping views of the surrounding hinterland. From the apex of The Rise, you can see the CBD skyline, Mount Macedon and the You Yangs.

Houses soon starting to creep north towards the hill.


Google Earth, February 2006

By 2009 the hill was surrounded.


Google Earth, December 2009

Tarneit Road still running due north.


Google Street View, February 2010

But a road deviation had appeared in the Melway.


Melway map 202 (unknown date)

Matching concept plans created by Peet for the ‘Tarneit Gardens‘ estate.

By 2012 the realignment of Tarneit Road around Cowies Hill was complete.


Google Earth, September 2012

Kulana Lane, Tableland Road and Thwaites Road taking over the old alignment.


Google Street View, April 2014

But the water tower was still visible.


Google Street View, February 2014

Until the last houses were built along the former Tarneit Road alignment in 2019.


Google Street View, August 2019

So when was the deviation completed?

I figured that finding the date for the realignment of a main road would be easy to find in the Government Gazette, but I came up blank.

The reason being the land was never rezoned – the old Tarneit Road alignment is still designated as ‘Road Zone Category 2’.

But I eventually found my answer.

Victoria Government Gazette
28 July 2011

Geographic Place Names Act 1998
Notice of Registration of Geographic Names

The Registrar of Geographic Names hereby gives notice of the registration of the undermentioned place names

CR32618
Thwaites Road
Tarneit
Wyndham City Council

Formerly known as part of Tarneit Road (between Leakes Road and Sayers Road).

Footnote on the water tanks

The water tanks atop Cowies Hill are connected to the Melbourne Water network by a 17-kilometre long pipeline from St Albans, with $30 million spent in 2015 to upgrade the main to supply up to 200 million litres of water a day. Cowies Hill is also where the Geelong and Melbourne water networks meet, following the completion of a 59 kilometre long pipeline to Lovely Banks in 2012.

And Tarneit Gardens Shopping Centre

In December 2011 Matthew Guy, Minister for Planning used Section 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to rezone six hectares of land on Tarneit Road at Cowies Hill from Residential 1 to Business 1 following a request for intervention by Peet Tarneit Gardens Syndicate Limited, developer of the site.

His reasoning at the time included:

Benefits of exemption

The main benefit of the exemption is that it will enable a prompt decision to be made on the adoption and approval of the amendment. The amendment will contribute to the fair and orderly development of land in accordance with section 4 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 by providing residents in Tarneit and Tarneit West with proximate access to local retail, commercial/office and community facilities. This will not only provide neighbouring residents with conveniently located retail and community services but the provision of office floor space will also provide for local business and employment opportunities.

Effects of Exemption on Third Parties

The effects of the exemption will be that third parties will not have the opportunity to make a formal submission to the planning authority and to have this considered by an independent panel.
Wyndham City Council has provided written support for the rezoning.

I have considered the potential effects of the Amendment on the Council. Consultation with Council officers occurred during the preparation of the Development Plan which has since been approved by Council. The Council will also retain responsibility for considering and approving any planning permits associated with the further development of the site.
Given the proposal’s high level of compatibility with State and Local planning policy, and the existing development plan approval it is likely that, even were submissions to be considered, the amendment would be approved generally in accordance with this approved amendment.

An Addendum to the Development Plan outlining the layout of a town centre at Tarneit Gardens has been approved by Council. A Masterplan for the site indicating the future location for the Neighbourhood Activity Centre was provided to adjoining land owners with their Contract of Sale.

Assessment as to whether benefits of exemptions outweigh effects on third parties

I have determined that any potential impact would not outweigh the benefits of expediting this amendment. The amendment will facilitate development in an area lacking access to retail services with the nearest retail provision currently over three kilometres from the site. Accordingly I consider that the benefits of exempting myself from sections 17, 18 and 19 of the Act outweigh any effects of the exemption on third parties.

The end result was Amendment C153, permitting a maximum combined leasable shop floor area of 8,000 m2 and office floor area of 4,000 m2 – one of many planning interventions Matthew Guy made for favoured property developers across Melbourne.

And the ‘Verdant Hill’ estate

Around the corner is the ‘Verdant Hill’ estate, which features neither trees or hills.

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4 Responses to “Cowies Hill and a deviation on Tarneit Road”

  1. Andrew S says:

    Cheating and going directly to Nearmap shows the deviation at the service reservoir being built in the second half of 2011 – construction has begun by late June with traffic shifted onto the new alignment by early December.

  2. Andrew S says:

    Out south east way one will be familiar with the Pound Road exit of the South Gippsland Freeway running east-west through Hampton Park toward Narre Warren. Just prior it heads down at 45° south east towards Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road with Shrives Road going straight ahead.

    Beyond there Pound Road continued south east alignment towards Ballarto Road in Cardinia connecting with Tooradin Station Road. An exception was a short section east in what is now Glasscocks Road which was the former council boundary between Berwick and Cranbourne pre-1990s merger into Casey.
    https://digitised-collections.unimelb.edu.au/bitstream/handle/11343/54914/UDS2013221-14-0172-wm.jpg?sequence=170&isAllowed=y
    https://digitised-collections.unimelb.edu.au/bitstream/handle/11343/54914/UDS2013221-14-0173-wm.jpg?sequence=171&isAllowed=y

    As the housing estates have crept out between Narre Warren and Clyde the 45° sections of Pound Road have been removed in the new estates replaced by walking and bike tracks along with short sections of residential streets like Market Lane
    https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-38.0565986,145.3038658,3a,75y,324.38h,90t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1snh45eyHccWxXQd7hdx-9gQ!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo2.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3Dnh45eyHccWxXQd7hdx-9gQ%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D330.5679%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i16384!8i8192?hl=en

    Or a short bit of ‘Pound Road’ such as this
    https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-38.0769232,145.3377228,3a,75y,130.4h,86.12t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBYuqLPCf1vZ-hKd2wG8csA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?hl=en

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