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Historic Dry Stone Walls

The City of Whittlesea is home to many kilometres of historically significant landscaping called dry stone walls. Dating back to the mid 1800s, they form some of the earliest property boundaries and agricultural infrastructure in the City of Whittlesea and are protected by Council's planning scheme. Permits are required to alter or remove stones in any way, even on private property.

Dry Stone Wall Toolkit

In 2024, the City of Whittlesea released a Dry Stone Wall Toolkit developed with funding provided by the Victorian Planning Authority.

Dry Stone Wall Design Guidelines

The toolkit includes the Dry Stone Wall Design Guidelines, which provides directions and recommendations on planning, designing and integrating dry stone walls in our built environment and landscapes.

The guidelines can be downloaded here:

Dry Stone Wall Management Plan

The toolkit also contains a comprehensive guide to writing a Dry Stone Wall Management Plan, along with explanations on the importance of dry stone wall protection.

The guide can be downloaded here:

Dry Stone Wall Mapping App

The City of Whittlesea has developed an app to assist with recording data during dry stone wall field surveys.

The app's technical guide provides a workflow and definitions for the data items, values and examples for the cells in the app.

The guide can be downloaded here:

Dry Stone Wall General User Guide

This guide shows users how to set up the Dry Stone Wall Mapping App on their smart devices and provides general instructions on navigating the app and entering data.

The guide can be downloaded here:

Dry Stone Wall Toolkit videos

This series of videos provides a comprehensive guide to dry stone wall management in the City of Whittlesea.

Introduction to Dry Stone Walls (Video 1)

Statutory Land Use Planning and Dry Stone Walls (Video 7)



Frequently Asked Questions

Historic dry stone walls (DSW) includes walls and other features built from dressed and undressed stones gathered or quarried from the land by early European settlers.  They are powerful expressions of human interaction with the land found across the volcanic plain which covers Victoria from the Western District to the west side of the Plenty River in the City of Whittlesea.

Today the walls are amongst the very oldest European structures in Whittlesea.  We have wonderful, surviving examples of DSW built predominantly by German and Scottish settlers and others built by the Irish and English.

Road and property boundary walls are the most widespread but there are also internal paddock walls and distinctive cultivation paddock walls. Some were designed to keep stock in but others to keep stock out.

A lot of the stones used are round and dense which are actually challenging to build with.

You can see stony rises in the City of Whittlesea too where bedrock is exposed on the surface of the land. These are also significant.

The walls were constructed with a combination of large boulders, small stones and some were split to balance the structure.

Dry stone walls are only found in some areas of Victoria and the ones in the City of Whittlesea are different from those found in other areas.

The walls provide insights into farming practices and of life on the Merri-Darebin Plains stony rises in the 19th Century.

Some of our noteworthy dry stone walls can be found along roadways and on private properties:

  • East and west side of Epping Road
  • In the Boundary Road/Bodycoats Road/Summerhill Road area
  • At 80 Harvest Home Road
  • Around the Westgarthtown cemetery, Lutheran church and Ziebell’s Farm in Thomastown/Lalor
  • Along Vearings Road, west side
  • A former boundary wall east of Epping Fruit and Vegetable Market (and other walls on 325D Cooper Street, Epping);
  • Former Wollert township wall half way between Cooper and O’Herns, east of Merri Creek;
  • Walls on east and west boundaries of Growling Frog Golf Course

Dry stone walls are protected as heritage assets and places in the Victorian State Planning framework, and in the City of Whittlesea Planning Scheme. They are significant for their cultural, social-technical, scientific, aesthetic, and landscape values and their educational potential.    

A permit is required from the City of Whittlesea and in some cases from Heritage Victoria to undertake any action that alters or damages a dry stone wall – and that includes removing rocks from any part of the walls without a permit.

If someone damages a historic dry stone wall, they can be fined up to $800.

If you see someone removing stones from or damaging a dry stone wall, please contact Council on 9217 2170 with as much information as possible. 

To learn more about dry stone walls, see the City of Whittlesea's 2020s study by David Moloney.