Yarra Catchment Program
Download the Yarra Catchment Program, detailing the vision, targets, performance objectives, and collaboration partners for the Yarra region.
More than one-third of Victoria’s native plant and animal species occur in the Yarra catchment. The Yarra River rises in the Great Dividing Range to the east of Warburton and flows 245 kilometres in a west to south-westerly direction until entering Port Phillip Bay at Newport.
The Catchment Collaboration, made up of interested community members, organisations and agencies, worked for months to create a shared vision, as well as its underpinning targets and performance objectives that will drive future actions.
Bird species listed as nationally-threatened in the catchment include the swift parrot, Australasian bittern and helmeted honeyeater. There are 16 native fish species, including the nationally-listed dwarf galaxis, Macquarie perch (introduced), Australian mudfish and Australian grayling. Frog species include threatened species such as the growling grass frog and the brown toadlet. Two threatened species of frog, Bibron’s toadlet (endangered in Victoria) and southern toadlet (vulnerable in Victoria) have seemingly disappeared from several areas in the catchment since the Millennium Drought.
Vegetation score is highly variable – the upper headwaters contain areas of very high value intact native vegetation protected within the Yarra Ranges National Park. Vegetation and macroinvertebrate scores decrease further from the headwaters as a result of agricultural activities and increasing areas of urbanisation.
Resilient and vulnerable populations of platypus have been observed across the catchment. A locally threatened population of platypus has been observed in the Plenty River in South Morang.
Social value scores for rivers are currently high. The social value score for the estuary is very high. Social value scores are based on the surveyed level of community satisfaction and are threatened by inappropriate urban development, poor environmental condition, poor access to waterways and pollution.
The land and waters of the region hold deep spiritual and cultural significance for Aboriginal peoples. The people of the Woi wurrung language group were the original occupants of this land, as evidenced by the thousands of cultural sites and places recorded, most of these occurring within 200 metres of a watercourse. Two significant sites include Bolin Bolin Billabong and Corranderk Aboriginal Station.
Major drinking water storages for Melbourne are located in the catchment. There are numerous diversions for domestic, stock and agricultural uses. Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges tourism is a significant economic driver, worth $559 million to the region’s economy in 2015-2016.
Birds score is currently moderate overall, with 252 bird species being recorded in the catchment including 153 species of riparian birds. Nationally threatened species include swift parrot, Australasian bittern and helmeted honeyeater. Without further action bird scores are considered unlikely to improve. The target is to maintain at moderate.
Fish scores are currently low overall, however the main stem of the Yarra is very important for native fish – with 14 indigenous freshwater species, including the nationally significant Australian grayling, Australian mudfish, and several estuarine species such as black bream, yellow eye mullet and mulloway. The fish score is considered likely to improve over time. The target is to improve the overall score from low to high.
Frogs score is currently low overall. Fifteen species of frog are expected to occur in the Yarra catchment. The nationally listed growling grass frog still occurs in some sub-catchments, mostly along north-western tributaries such as the Merri and Darebin Creeks. Frogs score is considered likely to decline unless the performance objectives in this strategy are achieved. The target is to improve to moderate.
Locations where a decline or very low score is expected: Darebin Creek, Plenty River Lower
Waterbugs (macroinvertebrates) score is currently high overall. Diversity is higher along the main stem and in the middle and upper catchments. The target is to improve to very high.
Locations where a decline or very low score is expected for macroinvertebrates: Gardiners Creek, Merri Creek Lower, Koonung Creek, Mullum Mullum Creek
Platypus score is currently high overall for the catchment. Platypus are mostly found in tributaries of the middle and upper catchment and the main stem of the Yarra. Platypus are at risk, particularly in the lower and middle tributaries of the Yarra River, unless the performance objectives in this Strategy are achieved. The target is to maintain current populations at a high level.
Locations where a decline or very low score is expected: Brushy Creek, Gardiners Creek, Merri Creek Lower, Koonung Creek, Mullum Mullum Creek, Steels and Pauls Creek (Source), Watsons Creek, Darebin Creek
Vegetation score is currently moderate. The largest and most intact areas of vegetation are the forested headwaters in the Yarra Ranges National Park which support many rare and threatened plant species such as the Jungle Bristle Fern, Tall Astelia, Tree Geebung and old growth Mountain Ash. The Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve is also an area rich in biodiversity. Yering Back Swamp is a unique wetland area adjacent to the Yarra River downstream of Yarra Glen.
It supports a diverse mix of species including plants such the giant rush (Juncus ingens) and Australian basket-grass (Oplismenus hirtellus) not generally found in the Yarra catchment. The Bolin Bolin Billabong is very important culturally for the Wurundjeri people and it also supports some remnant red gums estimated to pre-date European arrival in Australia. Without further action vegetation score is considered likely to decline. The target is to maintain vegetation scores as moderate.
Amenity score is currently high based on community satisfaction, but is likely to decline in response to population growth and urbanisation. The target is to improve to very high.
Community connection score is currently high based on community satisfaction, but is likely to decline in response to population growth and urbanisation. The target is to maintain at high.
Recreation score is currently high based on community satisfaction, but is likely to decline in response to population growth and urbanisation. The target is to improve to very high.
The sub-catchments, estuaries and wetlands here are:
Brushy Creek, Darebin Creek, Diamond Creek (Rural), Diamond Creek (Source), Gardiners Creek, Koonung Creek, Little Yarra River and Hoddles Creek, Merri Creek (Rural and Forested), Merri Creek (Urban), Mullum Mullum Creek, Olinda Creek, Plenty River (Source), Plenty River Lower, Plenty River Upper, Steels and Pauls Creek (Rural), Steels and Pauls Creek (Source), Stringybark Creek, Watsons Creek, Watts River (Rural), Watts River (Source), Woori Yallock Creek, Yarra River Lower, Yarra River Middle, Yarra River Upper (Rural), Yarra River Upper (Source)
Annulus Billabong, Yarra Flats, Banyule Flats Billabong, Bolin Bolin Billabong, Burke Road Billabong, Cockatoo Swamp, Domain Chandon Billabongs, Donnybrook Road Lake, Growling Grass Frog reserve wetlands, Hays Paddock Billabong, Hearnes Swamp, Kalkallo Creek Wetland, Lillydale Lake, Retarding Basins with biodiversity values, Ringwood Lake, Spadonis Billabong, Stormwater wetlands, Westgate Park, Willsmere Billabong, Yarra Bridge Stream Side Reserve, Yering Backswamp, Yarra River
Download the Yarra Catchment Program, detailing the vision, targets, performance objectives, and collaboration partners for the Yarra region.
Download the Healthy Waterways Strategy document, outlining the region-wide vision, goals, and performance objectives, the collaboration partners, the development of the Strategy, and our approach to implementation.
Melbourne Water respectfully acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land and water on which all Australians rely. We pay our respects to Wurundjeri, Bunurong and Wadawurrung, their Elders past, present and future, as Traditional Owners and the custodians of the land and water on which we rely and operate.
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