Latest news

Release of the State of the Yarra report

On Wednesday (20 March 2019), the Commissioner of Environmental Sustainability released the State of the Yarra Report. This report is required under the Yarra River Protection (Willip-gin Birrarung murrain) legislation which was passed unanimously in September 2017. We welcome the report and congratulate the Commissioner, Gillian Sparkes, and the lead writer Dr Rebecca Koss on the quality and clarity of the report. The report clear shows the pressure that the Yarra River is now under from the threats of urbanisation, population expansion (Melbourne is the fourth fastest growing river in the developed world), and a drying climate. The report card at the start of the report shows too many red dots for poor and too many grey dots for the status of the threat to be unknown, and too many being recorded as being derived from insufficient data. We need to know more about our Yarra and we need to act to protect and improve it. We are asking the Andrews’ government to accept these recommendations as a matter of urgency. The report notes that creating connected habitat corridors will protect critical ecosystems, The Riverkeeper will publish in the near future a report addressing this issue and looking at improved stewarding of the river along the lines of the rewilding ideas promoted in the US and UK of core and corridor, with protected cores connected by healthy ecological corridors. Looking at the report card, what stands out glaringly to us is:

  • Only two indicators (6%) are assessed as ‘improving’.
  • 16 of the 25 environmental health indicators (64%) have been assessed as in a ‘poor’ state with a deteriorating trend.

The Minster is required to respond to this report in 12 months but we are hoping the Minister will act earlier than that as the needs of our river are urgent, and implement the recommendations in particular we note the following as the recommendation reflects what we ask for from government at the last election:

Recommendation 5: That DELWP, in collaboration with Melbourne Water and local governments, extend the geographical scope of the current interim Yarra River Protection Planning Controls (Amendment GC48) along the Yarra River corridor ranging from Warrandyte to the boundary of the Yarra Ranges National Park in support of appropriate urban development.



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H2O River Summit in Hungzhou

Our Yarra Atlas manager, Anton, recently returned from a trip to Hangzhou, China to represent the Yarra Riverkeepers on the global stage and to share ideas about the future of water management.

“Thanks to Hao Xin and the whole H2O committee for organising such a thought provoking event. It is interesting to share water keeping ideas with our global community groups and see different perspectives on what they have been doing in the past! Thanks again to everyone who made it such an interesting event.” – Anton

Please read his report on the summit below:

River Cities Summit 2018

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The Gift of Membership this Christmas

If you have a loved one who loves the Yarra, we have just made our memberships available to be given as gifts this Christmas. Being a Yarra Riverkeeper Association member supports all the work we do on the Yarra and also lets you be apart of a group of like-minded people who want to see our Yarra healthy, protected and loved. Being a member also allows you to receive regular updates from the Association about the work we’re doing and will also give you access to exclusive events along the Yarra, such as our celebration events.

If you’re looking for a gift for someone this Christmas that gives back to the environment, then look no further than a Yarra Riverkeeper Association membership.

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Yarra River Blitz Coming up 25 November!

In April 2018, in collaboration with Melbourne Water and Cleanwater Group, five tonnes of litter and polystyrene contaminated soil were vacuumed and removed from the Yarra reed bed system. The 5-day blitz culminated in a community event which drew over 200 attendees from across Melbourne who collected a further 450 kg of rubbish from the river. The Blitz attracted a lot of media attention including extensive coverage on the second season of ‘War on Waste’. Following the success of the pilot and due to a successful Bay Fund application, the Yarra Riverkeeper Association will run an additional 6 blitzes within the lower Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers over the next two years.

The first blitz starts on the 12th of November with the community event scheduled on Sunday, 25 November. This morning will be all about clearing our precious Yarra within and along its banks. We’ll provide the boats, bags, gloves, and safety gear so you can LOVE YOUR RIVER! 

We will be having a gold coin donation sausage sizzle at the end of the event!

For more information please go to the Eventbrite link.


Blitz website


Victorian Election Position Statement now available

Our Yarra river needs more protection as the challenges of an expanding population and a drying climate puts increasing pressure on our waterways. The Yarra Riverkeeper is making five election requests on behalf of our river. Please read and support our election position statement, which is now available here on our website. Please talk to your local member on behalf of our river and please share with friends and colleagues and on social media. In short, we have 5 requests

  1. From planning to action – implement the Yarra River Action Plan.
  2. Make the Yarra River Planning Controls permanent.

  3. Extend stormwater controls and fund gross pollutant traps.

  4. Increase Yarra environmental water flows to reflect ecological needs.

  5. North East Link & Yarra crossing projects — net gain for environment always.


Birrarung Council Appointed

Dear River Lover,

The Birrarung Council has been appointed. 

Yesterday, the government announced the appointments to the Council. The council is a new statutory body to provide advice to Government to ensure the ongoing protection of the river and deliver on key priorities under the Water for Victoria plan and the Yarra River Protection Act 2017. The council was created by this act. 

We are pleased that two of our own are a part of the Birrarung Council:  Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly, and board member Warwick Leeson. 

The board is led by chair Chris Chesterfield and other members are Allan Wandin, Ronald Jones, Margaret Gardiner, Bronwyn South, Prue Digby, Kirsten Bauer, Erin O’Donnell, and Alexandra Lee. 

One of the innovative and important components of the Yarra River Protection (Willip-gin Birrarung murron) Act is that it gives Traditional Owners a permanent voice in the planning and management of the Yarra river. It is also the first act in Victorian history to be co-titled in Woi-wurrung.

Please see the Premier’s media release at

We wish the council the best in all its efforts. 

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Report commissioned from Ethos Urban now released

The Yarra Riverkeeper commissioned the report Protecting the Yarra River Corridor Through Better Planning from the highly regarded Ethos Urban group of urban planners. That report is how available here. The intention is to help the reader to better protect our Yarra corridor through advocating for better planning and to let people know what the issues are that Yarra Riverkeepers see as the critical for the future health of the Yarra. It is a good read and an excellent toolkit.

Protecting the Yarra River Through Better Planning Report by Ethos Urban 1

Ethos Urban report 1 Protecting the Yarra Corridor


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