• Tract Consultants Pty., Ltd.

    Phillip Island Penguin Viewing Platform

    Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Project Summary

    • Underground wildlife viewing area
    • Phillip Island Penguin Viewing Platform
    • Underground wildlife viewing area


Just 90 minutes from Melbourne, Australia, the daily Penguin Parade on Phillip Island attracts more than 600,000 viewers annually. To enhance visitor experience and increase domestic and international visitation, the Phillip Island Nature Parks asked Tract Consultants to execute phase one of a master plan to expand the island’s network of trailways and viewing areas. The challenge of this AUD 2.8 million project was to create accessible trails that provide unprecedented views without impinging upon penguin habitat.


Tract used OpenRoads to model the terrain and design a series of elevated boardwalks, gravel paths, and viewing areas that complemented the existing facility. The analysis applications quickly established the best locations for scenic outlooks and seating areas. Slope maps indicated suitable alignments and grades to maintain accessibility throughout the network. Mapping tools and topologies determined trail types, where balustrades were required, and routes that avoided this added expense.


Bentley software enabled Tract to create richly detailed site plans and displays early in the project, providing a realistic perspective on site constraints. Alignments that impinged upon sensitive habit were quickly and easily rerouted. More than 10 kilometers of trails were designed to wind through the terrain without disturbing the fragile ecosystem. Tract’s accurate designs minimized changes during construction, enabling on-time, in-budget completion and no overlap with penguin breeding season.


OpenRoads allowed Tract to design a trail network that hugged the terrain without performing labor-intensive grading by traditional CAD methods. LiDAR generated point-cloud data for geolocation and alignments. MicroStation produced dynamic templates for design modeling and optioneering. Navigator was used for internal and external i-model review. Powered by Bentley technology, these solutions supported a high level of accuracy, providing a degree of confidence in the design that prevented construction delays.

  • Tract presented in-budget design scenarios that balanced visitor expectations vs. construction costs.
  • Optioneering made possible by Bentley software cut design time by a factor of eight.
  • Automated tasks such as detecting the need for balustrades reduced design time by 40 percent.
  • Choosing cost-conscious trailway design options saved 50 percent per linear meter.
  • “A considered design approach culminated in a beautiful piece of infrastructure . . . The project allows visitors to observe the delicate sand dune ecology without impacting the mobility of the Fairy Penguin community, their burrows, and habitat.”

    Maggie Smythe Program Coordinator United Nations Association of Australia (Victorian Division)