Recreation picture of people by the waterway

Waterways provide a setting to undertake on-water recreational activities such as canoeing, rowing and swimming and beside water activities such as walking, jogging, fishing and cycling.

The strategy will consider opportunities to enhance the recreational value of waterways. This may include initiatives such as enhanced paths and trails that improve linkages and destination points, and new opportunities to participate in waterway based activities.

Recreation facts

Recreation is an important social value of waterways as it contributes to physical and mental wellbeing. Waterways provide settings and opportunities for people to pursue active and/or passive activities within their leisure time, separate to activities that are necessary for their survival, such as work.

As the region continues to experience population growth and urban densification, waterways are an increasingly important place for people to undertake their favourite recreational activities.


Current status

The status for recreation is based on data from a Melbourne Water survey, Community Perceptions of Waterways, where participants from greater Melbourne gave feedback on how and why they use waterways, and their level of satisfaction with the waterways.

The values are assessed by correlating respondents’ primary reason for visiting waterways with recreation value – for example, cycling relates to Recreation - and then taking the average satisfaction score for those activities.

Scores for satisfaction are generally between 6 and 8, with little variation between catchments.



Key threats

  • Poor access to and along the waterway – recreational opportunities are decreased if people can’t access the waterway
  • Lack of appropriate facilities – different facilities are appropriate at different sites. For example, drinking fountains can increase the recreational value of a heavily used urban path, but would be inappropriate for a forest path.
  • Poor environmental condition detracts from the pleasant environment and may discourage use of that particular waterway for recreation.


Potential management actions

  • Increase open space for active/passive recreation opportunities
  • Provide sporting facilities (for example football ovals, exercise equipment)
  • Provide facilities to support recreation (for example drinking fountains, toilets, change rooms)
  • Improve access to recreational nodes (e.g. remove barriers to access; improve pathways, signage, wayfinding)

Note: facilities and recreational spaces will not always be located within the waterway corridor. This type of infrastructure is commonly co-located adjacent to a waterway and is complementary to use of the waterway corridor.