Capstone Projects


Yarra River Blitz

The Yarra River is the largest contributor of litter into the Bay. Much of the litter entering the Bay is trapped in reed beds in the lower Yarra. These areas are extremely difficult to access. Furthermore, the small size of litter in these areas makes litter collection time consuming and expensive. This project aims to remove accumulated waste from reed beds in the lower Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers using a unique approach which incorporates a boat-mounted vacuum system with traditional waterway cleaning techniques. This project will greatly reduce the amount of litter and microplastics residing in the Yarra and Maribyrnong and will prevent millions of pieces of litter from escaping into the Bay annually.

In April 2018, in collaboration with Melbourne Water, Cleanwater Group and Melbourne Water, 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 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 is running additional blitzes within the lower Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers over the next two years.

Based on our pilot study, for each blitz, we expect to collect 10 tonnes of waste to be collected over the 10-day period and a maximum of 60 tonnes across the duration of the project. Clean-ups like the Yarra River Blitz are essential to maintaining the ecological health of the river and preventing litter from spreading into the bay. The Blitz also prevents litter and plastics from being consumed by marine life and other animals like birds that live in the river and bay.

Please see the culmination of this incredible project through this video: Yarra Blitz Video

Yarra Atlas

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The Yarra Atlas is another of our main projects.

Project Background: Over 40 community groups and organisations collect data and conduct regular activities within the Yarra Catchment. Few of these groups present their data on open platforms and most of this data is inaccessible to the public. The Yarra Riverkeeper Association would like to collaborate with groups to collect, collate and present Yarra catchment data on a single site: The Yarra Catchment Atlas. This atlas will build knowledge within community networks and will be a pivotal tool to assist our understanding of the cultural heritage, biodiversity, and health of the Yarra Catchment and their links with Port Phillip Bay.

The Yarra Atlas is a project that has been developed to become an educational tool for everyone, schools, researchers, other environmental organisations and not-for-profits etc. The idea surfaced from realising that there are extensive amounts of information. However, every group of data has been secluded to be in one database or kept by one organisation. The idea with the Yarra Atlas is to create a platform where all of this data is freely and readily available. We want to make it as easy as possible for organisations to get this information and simultaneously create a sense of community since they are contributing to the data pool as well.

The Yarra Atlas has been in production for nearly a year now and is well underway to being ready. We are very excited to be able to show you our hard work and the amount of incredible collaboration we have had from many organisations across the extent of the Yarra River. We will have a seminar in mid-June, so stay tuned on the latest news page on our website.

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