The riverkeeper’s call to arms
By Rowan Webb
Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly has called on residents of the Docklands to continue to embrace the Yarra River.
“They’re probably the greatest advocates for the river and we need more wild places in Docklands,” Mr Kelly said. “I’d just really like to see the people in Docklands embrace the river and look after the river”.
Becoming Yarra Riverkeeper in 2014, Andrew is a passionate advocate for protecting the river and improving it as a place for people to enjoy.
He recently collaborated with Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy to tell the indigenous and geographical story of the river, publishing Wilam: A Birrarung Story.
“It [Wilam] stands for all rivers that flow through a major city in the world, because all those rivers face the same sort of challenges”, Mr Kelly said.
Andrew has seen many changes in the river throughout his four years as riverkeeper, remarking that “every time I go down the water it’s different”.
Developments such as the Bolte Precinct and visitors such as “Salvatore” the seal ensure a dull working day is a rare occurrence.
A 200kg seal, Salvatore is a proud resident of the Yarra River and has been seen in Southbank.
“It’s fantastic to see so much life in the river,” Mr Kelly said when asked about Salvatore.
“We’re seeing lots of dolphins in the river now as well and you often see fish in the river.”
Mr Kelly hopes to improve the health of the river to the point where Docklands locals can witness more of the river’s animal residents.
“You don’t have the frogs you once had, you don’t have the birds you once had and you don’t have the bush for the birds to live in.”
“All sorts of things have gone missing along the way. I’d like to see lots of wetlands and mangrove swamps along the river so that we can see all the birds.”
Mr Kelly’s vision for the future health of the Docklands portion of the Yarra is one where the river runs consistently clear.
“I think Docklands is maturing and as part of that maturing we need more green places and people identifying with those green places,” he said.
“I’d like to see residents spend more time on the river, spend time near the river and get to understand the river.”
Mr Kelly encourages local residents interested in learning more about the river to join the Yarra Riverkeeper Association.
Membership forms can be found at http://www.yarrariver.org.au/membership