Restoring our riverbank
by SANDI MILLER
5th June 2023
AS VALERIE POLLEY discussed in April’s Warrandyte Diary, [Are we at risk of loving the riverbank to death?] the bank of the Yarra River through Warrandyte is in a parlous state.
As one of Warrandyte’s most significant environmental assets and a community treasure, the Main Yarra Trail requires immediate attention to repair structural damage and revive surrounding native plants.
Heavy rainfall has taken a toll on the trail, resulting in significant erosion and the premature loss of several older trees.
But it is not just the weather impacting our beloved river walk.
The impact from events such as the Festival, Market, Park Run, Pottery Expo, and increased foot traffic during the pandemic has seen erosion and treefall, rubbish, and dog waste, creating stress on the environment around the river.
The flooding events that have been happening with monotonous regularity have only exacerbated this impact.
So, from July, Manningham Council says it will begin restoration works.
Following the floods, to mitigate further damage, temporary measures were implemented by Council, allowing the trail to remain accessible to the community.
However, a council statement said the focus has shifted to long-term restoration efforts to ensure the trail’s sustained functionality and environmental value.
Manningham Mayor, Cr Deirdre Diamante, said, “The Manningham Green Wedge Infrastructure Plan has been considered in the design and approach to the restoration to ensure the works are sustainable and sympathetic to the semi-rural character of the area.”
She said that in collaboration with an expert contractor, Manningham Council is dedicated to restoring the Main Yarra Trail to its full potential for the community’s enjoyment for years to come.
Yarra Riverkeeper Charlotte Sterrett told the Diary the Riverkeeper Association had not been consulted about these works but said any works along the Yarra Trail should not only improve the amenity of the area but lead to a net gain for the river and her parklands.
“This means that the Yarra, Birrarung should benefit ecologically from any works undertaken – it can’t be only about reducing negative impacts from human and dog traffic.”
She said exposed roots, eroded soil, and damage to the vegetation along the Yarra, Birrarung is evidence that we need to better balance people’s needs with the needs of the river.
“Any works should lead to better outcomes for the river and her critters.
“It’s time to recognise that she has rights too.”
Cr Diamante said restoration activities would include levelling the trail rock bed, adding rocks, weed removal, and additional planting along most of the trail.
She said some sections might require more extensive structural work, such as cement stabilisation underneath the trail and the construction of a retaining wall to prevent further erosion near Police Street.
Enhancements are also planned for the trail at the carpark on the public toilet side of Warrandyte Bridge.
Upgrades to the drainage infrastructure will mitigate stormwater flooding, while the installation of a new concrete shared path will improve accessibility for wheelchairs, cyclists, prams, and pedestrians around the Warrandyte Bridge car park.
The trail restoration works will begin in July 2023, with an anticipated completion date toward the end of this year.
While small sections of the trail will be temporarily closed during construction, detour signage will be prominently displayed to ensure minimal disruption and to allow the community to continue enjoying the trail.
Summary of works along the Main Yarra Trail
All sections: Weeding invasive species and planting natives to encourage new growth.
Path to be refreshed with new toppings and graded to support better drainage.
Section 1 – Everard Drive to Police Street: This section of the trail will be levelled out with rock and weeded, with planting to encourage new growth.
Stiggant Street Carpark and Police Street Carpark will also get minor drainage upgrades, including new drainage pits.
Section 2 – Police Street to 81 Yarra Street: This section of the trail has experienced severe erosion.
Council may install a retaining wall at this location to prevent further erosion, ensuring the path can be used in the future.
Section 3 – 83 to 119 Yarra Street: This section of the trail will be stabilised with a cement base and covered with rock to visually blend into the rest of the trail.
The cement stabilisation will prevent severe erosion at this section of the trail to ensure it is always usable.
Section 4: – “The Beach” adjacent to 141 Yarra Street and Webb Street Carpark: The lower path will not be touched.
The upper path will be stabilised.
Section 5 – 141 to 177 Yarra Street: This section of the trail will be levelled out with rock and weeded, with planting to encourage new growth.
Council will also undertake extensive weeding and planting in the Rainwater Garden opposite 177 Yarra Street so the plants in the garden do a more effective job of cleaning incoming stormwater and reducing unnecessary pollution of the waterways.
Section 6 – 183 Yarra Street to the bridge: This section of the trail will be stabilised with a cement base and covered with rock to visually blend into the rest of the trail.
The cement stabilisation will prevent severe erosion at this section of the trail and reduce water ponding in the area.
Section 7 – The carpark on the public toilet side of the bridge: Council will be doing a range of works at this location, including:
Upgrading the drains in the carpark to reduce stormwater flooding in the area.
Removing the gate and adding bollards for better pedestrian access.
Fixing any damaged structures, including the memorial.
Stabilising the trail with a cement base covered with rock to visually blend into the rest of the trail.
Replacing the existing asphalt path with a new concrete shared path, enhancing accessibility for wheelchairs, cyclists, and pedestrians between the carpark and the Main Yarra Trail.
The design of the shared path will be sympathetic to the surrounding environment.
Section 8 – 284 Yarra Street to Tills Drive: Erosion in this section has reached an unacceptable level.
To address this issue, a boardwalk will be installed beneath the oak tree, and in certain areas, the width of the trail path will be expanded from 1.5 to 2+ metres.
These improvements will enable easier access for users travelling to and from Tills Drive, the Stonehouse, and onward to other parts of Warrandyte State Park.
This will provide a better trail connection to and from Warrandyte State Park.
Cr Diamante said that the trail is at great risk of long-term damage due to the heavy and constant rainfall last year.
“We’re undertaking these essential maintenance works now to preserve the trailÕs character and ensure it can continue to be used by future generations.
“Not doing so would pose a significant risk to the long-term viability of the trail,Ó Cr Diamante said.
Ms Sterrett said we all need to play our part in protecting the Yarra, Birrarung and her parklands, “including councils who have signed up to the Yarra Strategic Plan (Burndap Birrarung burndap umarkoo).
“The Yarra, Birrarung is a living entity and deserves to be restored to full health.
“Any works along the river should contribute to her health.
“For too long, we have taken nature for granted and seen her as a resource for personal pleasure and enjoyment.”
She said the Riverkeeper Association expects that the works undertaken by Manningham Council benefit the river “and not just visitors and their dogs”.
“For what is good for the Yarra is good for all,” Ms Sterrett said.
For further details visit manningham.vic.gov.au/news/main-yarra-trail-restoration.