Yarrowee River Masterplan

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What’s important to you about the Yarrowee River?

The City of Ballarat would value your input on the draft Yarrowee River Master Plan:

  • What’s most important you to?

  • Have we missed anything?

Your feedback will help to finalise this plan and guide the development of new projects and priorities to implement the plan.

To view the draft Masterplan please click on the links in the document library and you can complete a brief survey is at the bottom of this page. The survey will be open until Sunday, 12 July.

The draft Master Plan

The next 25 years
The Yarrowee River and Tributaries: River Corridor Master Plan 2020 expresses a vision for the river corridor for the next 25 years. It is designed to protect, enhance and harness this valued community asset, building on the success of ongoing community engagement that has informed restoration and improvement works over the past 25 years.

A vision for the Yarrowee River Corridor

An accessible and welcoming open space that brings people
together to connect with each other and enjoy health and
wellbeing activities. A beautiful place that supports a healthy
environment and ecosystem and encourages people to
connect with nature. A unique place with a strong identity that
celebrates the richness of Ballarat's heritage and people from
our indigenous origins until today. A special place that our
whole community is proud of.

It’s 25 years since the original Yarrowee River Corridor Masterplan was prepared in 1991. Since then extensive works have been undertaken to improve habitat and bio-diversity, create walking paths and increase the community’s use and appreciation of the river and parklands. More people are enjoying using the river corridor and this new Masterplan aims to continue to improve the area for people and all living things.

This new Masterplan has reviewed achievements and establishes priorities for the next 25 years to further improve, develop, manage and maintain the Yarrowee River and its tributaries. It focuses on actions in eight key areas:

  • Access and trails

  • Rehabilitation, regeneration and vegetation management

  • Water quality and wetlands

  • Sludge and contaminated sites

  • Recreation and parks

  • Land tenure and future land development

  • Community engagement and education

  • Sustainable management

The project has been jointly funded by Central Highlands Water (CHW), the Departmnet of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the City of Ballarat (CoB) and has valuable support and input from a Project Working Group.


The Yarrowee River: The story so far

The upper Yarrowee River runs through Ballarat, from the north-eastern suburbs, through the city centre (partly underground), and then through southern Ballarat before it travels through open land and joins the Leigh River which flows into the Barwon River. The Yarrowee River has historically been an important centre piece for the area. Prior to the European settlement of Australia, the river was an important place for the Boro gundidj, a tribe of the Wathaurong Indigenous Australian people as they based themselves around its northern stretches. The river was also an important asset in the gold rush, providing a source of water for mining operations.

The river was seriously degraded during this period by dredging and hydraulic processes causing major silting and stream bed changes. During the 1860s, much of the river and its tributaries were sealed as drains using quarried bluestone to prevent erosion and help mitigate frequent flooding. By the turn of the century, the river had become heavily polluted during the early industrialization of Ballarat.

During the 1960s, the river through the Ballarat CBD was re-routed, concreted and built over. As a result, it now forms an underground drain running under Grenville Street. Many other parts of the river also became wide and deep concrete stormwater drains. However, several stretches remained in its natural bush and parkland setting.

The Yarrowee River and Tributaries became the focus of interest with the development of Ballarat’s urban areas and as the waterways became a key central riparian habitat with linear linkages to surrounding reserves. Much work has been done since Linear Network of Communal Spaces (LINCS) was established in 1991. These works included removal of invasive weeds, tree and vegetation planting, creation of wetlands and construction of pathways and bridges.

Breathing Life into the Yarrowee River

In 2013, the Victorian Government announced a $1million investment in regenerative works on the Yarrowee River. The project, led by the City of Ballarat and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, was called ‘Breathing Life into the Yarrowee River’. Project works built on the earlier initiatives undertaken as part of the LINCS plan and were carried out with many community work days and engagement which re-invigorated community interest in the river. The Friends of the Yarrowee group was informed and hundreds of community members become active in river improvement projects.


What’s important to you about the Yarrowee River?

The City of Ballarat would value your input on the draft Yarrowee River Master Plan:

  • What’s most important you to?

  • Have we missed anything?

Your feedback will help to finalise this plan and guide the development of new projects and priorities to implement the plan.

To view the draft Masterplan please click on the links in the document library and you can complete a brief survey is at the bottom of this page. The survey will be open until Sunday, 12 July.

The draft Master Plan

The next 25 years
The Yarrowee River and Tributaries: River Corridor Master Plan 2020 expresses a vision for the river corridor for the next 25 years. It is designed to protect, enhance and harness this valued community asset, building on the success of ongoing community engagement that has informed restoration and improvement works over the past 25 years.

A vision for the Yarrowee River Corridor

An accessible and welcoming open space that brings people
together to connect with each other and enjoy health and
wellbeing activities. A beautiful place that supports a healthy
environment and ecosystem and encourages people to
connect with nature. A unique place with a strong identity that
celebrates the richness of Ballarat's heritage and people from
our indigenous origins until today. A special place that our
whole community is proud of.

It’s 25 years since the original Yarrowee River Corridor Masterplan was prepared in 1991. Since then extensive works have been undertaken to improve habitat and bio-diversity, create walking paths and increase the community’s use and appreciation of the river and parklands. More people are enjoying using the river corridor and this new Masterplan aims to continue to improve the area for people and all living things.

This new Masterplan has reviewed achievements and establishes priorities for the next 25 years to further improve, develop, manage and maintain the Yarrowee River and its tributaries. It focuses on actions in eight key areas:

  • Access and trails

  • Rehabilitation, regeneration and vegetation management

  • Water quality and wetlands

  • Sludge and contaminated sites

  • Recreation and parks

  • Land tenure and future land development

  • Community engagement and education

  • Sustainable management

The project has been jointly funded by Central Highlands Water (CHW), the Departmnet of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the City of Ballarat (CoB) and has valuable support and input from a Project Working Group.


The Yarrowee River: The story so far

The upper Yarrowee River runs through Ballarat, from the north-eastern suburbs, through the city centre (partly underground), and then through southern Ballarat before it travels through open land and joins the Leigh River which flows into the Barwon River. The Yarrowee River has historically been an important centre piece for the area. Prior to the European settlement of Australia, the river was an important place for the Boro gundidj, a tribe of the Wathaurong Indigenous Australian people as they based themselves around its northern stretches. The river was also an important asset in the gold rush, providing a source of water for mining operations.

The river was seriously degraded during this period by dredging and hydraulic processes causing major silting and stream bed changes. During the 1860s, much of the river and its tributaries were sealed as drains using quarried bluestone to prevent erosion and help mitigate frequent flooding. By the turn of the century, the river had become heavily polluted during the early industrialization of Ballarat.

During the 1960s, the river through the Ballarat CBD was re-routed, concreted and built over. As a result, it now forms an underground drain running under Grenville Street. Many other parts of the river also became wide and deep concrete stormwater drains. However, several stretches remained in its natural bush and parkland setting.

The Yarrowee River and Tributaries became the focus of interest with the development of Ballarat’s urban areas and as the waterways became a key central riparian habitat with linear linkages to surrounding reserves. Much work has been done since Linear Network of Communal Spaces (LINCS) was established in 1991. These works included removal of invasive weeds, tree and vegetation planting, creation of wetlands and construction of pathways and bridges.

Breathing Life into the Yarrowee River

In 2013, the Victorian Government announced a $1million investment in regenerative works on the Yarrowee River. The project, led by the City of Ballarat and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, was called ‘Breathing Life into the Yarrowee River’. Project works built on the earlier initiatives undertaken as part of the LINCS plan and were carried out with many community work days and engagement which re-invigorated community interest in the river. The Friends of the Yarrowee group was informed and hundreds of community members become active in river improvement projects.