Like the hedgerows of England, the Yarra connects the green open
spaces of country and city. From west of Mount Baw Baw and south of
Mount Gregory, where it rises in the Yarra Ranges and the fern
glades of the Upper Yarra Dam, Mc Mahons Creek, Warburton,
Healesville and down through the rolling hills of the Yarra Valley
and Yarra Glen, on further down through the green interface semi
rural outer suburbs of Warrandyte, Wonga Park, Kangaroo Ground,
Eltham, Lower Plenty and closer to the city, Viewbank, Rosanna and
Heidelberg in Banyule. The lower Yarra corridor, home of the
Heidelberg School of painters (Mc Cubbin, Conder, Streeton) and,
across the river at Heide in Buleen, the Modernists (Nolan, Tucker,
Boyd), two of Australia's most important Art movements.
This place, Banyule Flats, Warringal Park, Bolin Bolin wetlands,
once a series of Billabongs as the Yarra over millennia, changed
course, turned back on itself and created wetlands, was an
important place of spiritual significance and ceremony for the
Wurundgeri, who held corrobories by its billabongs and winding
banks (Buleen from Bolin, Bolin, one of the last remaining
Billabongs on the Lower Yarra) .
The location is also home to a large population of remnant flora
and fauna, including a hundred or more bird species, black swan,
tawny owl, as well as eastern grey kangaroo and koala. All this,
within only ten or so kilometers of Melbourne. An important link in
this verdant corridor, down through Ivanhoe, Kew, Clifton Hill
(Dight's Falls), Abbotsford and Richmond to the city, as it flows
on down through Southbank, Docklands and Yarraville, to meet the
salt water of the Marribynong in Hobson's Bay at Williamstown. We
could not conceive of Melbourne without the Yarra. It is the reason
why Melbourne was settled here in the first place, and is an
integral, psychological as well as environmentally important, part
of our city, surrounding region and the State.
All this however, is coming under increasing threat from rapidly
expanding population and development at levels not seen before.
This intensive urbanization, proceeding at an alarming pace,
encroaching into our green wedges. The proposal for a freeway - the
North East link (the old F18) through our part of the river valley
at Banyule, threaten all these, historic, cultural and
environmental assets, which we as Melbournians and Victorians, are
custodians of. Further down the river at Abbotsford, high rise
development is bringing Docklands further up the river, and
threatening the natural environment and the capital city trail.
We need to value our precious river and its environs, nurture it
and protect it from inappropriate development along its banks and
surrounding riverine environment, so that generations to come, can
enjoy this green and verdant artery, the lifeblood of our city, now
and in the future.
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