Protect the Yarra for walking

19 Aug 2016

Victoria Walks has backed plans to improve management of the Yarra, but is pushing for stronger protection of the natural landscape of the river.

Paths along the Yarra River provide a rare opportunity to escape the city within the suburbs of Melbourne. Walking in a natural environment is even more beneficial to mental health and wellbeing than walking generally.  Protecting the natural character and walking experience of the Yarra River parklands is essential.

The Victorian Government is exploring ways to better protect the Yarra.  The recently released discussion paper includes some positive ideas, including:

  • Design controls to ensure property development does not visually dominate the river
  • Extension of walking access along the river, where it does not currently exist
  • Efforts to improve water quality
  • An overall strategy or legislation protecting the Yarra.

Victoria Walks have provided a submission supporting these measures, but we want the Government to go further.

At times, the discussion paper seems to be promoting greater recreational or tourist use along the River. While clearly the Yarra is important for recreation, facilities need to be carefully controlled, because they have the potential to compromise the natural landscape of the river.  Buildings, structures, access roads and car parks will affect the landscape character of the corridor, irrespective of whether their purpose is commercial, residential or community use.

Victoria Walks suggests the Government should limit community facilities to those that facilitate passive recreation or have a demonstrated need for a riverside location.

Victoria Walks also recommend development of a plan for walking and cycling paths in the corridor, to improve access and manage the tension between recreational walking and commuter cycling.

Let’s hope that the Yarra River will soon get the protection it deserves.