Sally McPhee

Sally McPhee


AKA: Sal

Likes: Public spaces and vibrant public life, water bodies everywhere, nature in cities, walking and observing, good television, the arts

Dislikes: At-grade carparks, sub-standard cycling infrastructure, environmental degradation

Favourite Animal in the Yarra Catchment: Eastern Long-necked Turtle




A multi-award winning place-maker and urban planner, Sally is the glue that holds every board meeting together as the YRKA’s secretary.

Combining her love for nature and art, Sally currently works at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria in the Engagement and Impact team where she is the Creative Producer; Placemaking and Interpretation. She has a diverse professional background in performing arts administration, particularly for arts projects with a participatory element, and has been a freelance collaborator on projects engaging people in culture, nature, art and place for many years, having worked in various roles at Arts Centre Melbourne between 2001 and 2013. Her personal highlights there include being a participation producer on the Betty Amsden Participation Program from 2013 – 2018, a series of four participatory arts projects with outcomes in public places and producing the Families and Youth program from 2009-2012.

Returning to study as a mature aged student, Sally graduated from RMIT’s Urban and Regional Planning program, completing a thesis on the historic representation of swimming in Melbourne’s Yarra River, which in her words “really turbocharged” her connection with the Birrarung, Yarra River. During her study, she was awarded the prestigious – Vice Chancellors award for Academic achievement (2016) and was part of the team of five to win the Outstanding Tertiary Student Award from the Planning Institute of Australia (VIC) for a research report on collaborative practice in Victorian local governments (2015).

Since then, Sally has written commissioned pieces about the river’s past and future. It was from her role in co-curating the Waterfront program with Open House Melbourne for Melbourne Design Week 2019 where she met the YRKA! Two other distinct experiences include co-creating and co-hosting ‘This Is Public’; a podcast about cities and people, and place producing with Open House Melbourne.

Outside of balancing her busy schedule and being a board member, Sally enjoys watching and appreciating all of the arts and cycling along the Yarra Riverbanks.


“Sometimes when I walk or cycle along the river, with the wattle and the waterbirds, I forget I am in one of the biggest cities in Australia. Time stands still in those treasured moments, contemplating about all the stories the river it holds, and all the stories to come.”