The Victorian Government has released the Rivers of the Barwon (Barre Warre Yulluk) Action Plan to ensure the iconic Barwon catchment can thrive and be enjoyed as a natural treasure for many years to come.

The Barwon (Parwan) River and its tributaries are valuable natural assets to be protected and enhanced for future generations. They play a key role in supporting the liveability, amenity and recreational opportunities for a growing population as well as support diverse agricultural and horticultural production and an expanding economy.


Cultural and environmental significance

The Barwon catchment has a particular spiritual and cultural significance for the Eastern Maar and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners. The Rivers of the Barwon are known as Barre Warre Yulluk, which in Wadawurrung language means ‘the great river’ (Yulluk) that runs from the ‘mountains’ (Barre) to the ‘ocean’ (Warre). It encompasses all major waterways within the Barwon catchment including the Barwon (Parwan), Moorabool (Murrabul), Yarrowee (Yarowee) and Leigh (Waywatcurtan) rivers and their tributaries. View the map showing the boundaries (PDF, 566.5 KB)

The Barwon catchment has some of the state’s most flow-stressed waterways. Significant population growth and a changing climate are expected to place increasing pressures on the health of the catchment’s waterways and its natural landscapes. At the same time, waterways have become highly valued places for people to connect with nature and each other to support health and wellbeing. These and other challenges that emerge require a long-term strategic response. This has driven government’s commitment to deliver a Rivers of the Barwon (Barre Warre Yulluk) Action Plan.

The Action Plan

The Rivers of the Barwon (Barre Warre Yulluk) Action Plan lays out steps to protect the catchment and ensure its assets can be enjoyed by future generations. It recognises these waterways and their landscapes as unique, interconnected living entities and the Traditional Owners as the ‘voice of the living entities’.

The regional centres of Geelong and Ballarat are rapidly transforming, and with this transformation comes opportunity to protect and enhance the waterways and their surrounding lands. The Action Plan also provides opportunities to support the liveability and amenity needs of other urban communities in the Rivers of the Barwon (Barre Warre Yulluk).

The Action Plan is made up of short-term actions that address waterway health, waterway amenity and stronger land use planning and development controls and standards to guard against inappropriate development, to bring immediate benefits to the region. Longer-term actions (within five years) are to consider necessary changes to institutional arrangements, strengthen planning provisions for waterways and strengthen the role of Traditional Owners in planning and management.

This Action Plan will drive an enduring legacy of protection for the region’s waterways and a new way of working, where Traditional Owner and community voices continue to shape waterway protection, with strong support from regulatory, institutional, and legislative arrangements.

The Victorian Government has invested $17 million over four years towards improving our iconic urban waterways which includes funding for the Rivers of the Barwon and Waterways of the West Action Plans. Of this $17 million commitment, $4.3 million has already been committed to fund actions and projects in the Rivers of the Barwon Action Plan that will protect and manage waterways in the Barwon catchment for the next five years.

Read the plan:

Page last updated: 07/12/21