Porronggitj Karrong and Aqueduct

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Heritage Victoria has granted Barwon Water a permit to remove four of the 14 spans of the heritage-listed Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct in Breakwater, which has been rapidly deteriorating in condition since the 1970s.

In considering the future of the aqueduct, we investigated options for ensuring public safety and improving public access to the Barwon River and surrounding land, while balancing heritage values, Aboriginal cultural values and managing costs for our customers.

Barwon Water understands the significance of this structure to many in the community and is committed to working with community members and stakeholders on an interpretation plan for the aqueduct as part of a wider plan for the area.

In addition to the interpretation plan, Barwon Water will develop a Heritage Infrastructure Management Plan and undertake works to stabilise the remaining structure so it can be enjoyed by those who visit the area into the future.

Works will take a number of years and Heritage Victoria will be involved throughout the process.

This significant project, costing up to $6.5 million, will generate jobs and many other benefits for the region including opening up public open space and river access.

In partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, we are gathering information about the landscape and water, and will engage other interested stakeholders to develop a plan for the area that will be unique for its high ecological, heritage, cultural and recreational values.

Porronggitj Karrong - A new cultural and community precinct incorporating the aqueduct

The aqueduct divides 66 hectares of Barwon Water-owned land, and as part of the plan to make the area safe, Barwon Water would like to create an area that is unique for its high ecological, heritage, cultural and recreational values. Read more via the Latest News tab below.


Heritage Victoria has granted Barwon Water a permit to remove four of the 14 spans of the heritage-listed Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct in Breakwater, which has been rapidly deteriorating in condition since the 1970s.

In considering the future of the aqueduct, we investigated options for ensuring public safety and improving public access to the Barwon River and surrounding land, while balancing heritage values, Aboriginal cultural values and managing costs for our customers.

Barwon Water understands the significance of this structure to many in the community and is committed to working with community members and stakeholders on an interpretation plan for the aqueduct as part of a wider plan for the area.

In addition to the interpretation plan, Barwon Water will develop a Heritage Infrastructure Management Plan and undertake works to stabilise the remaining structure so it can be enjoyed by those who visit the area into the future.

Works will take a number of years and Heritage Victoria will be involved throughout the process.

This significant project, costing up to $6.5 million, will generate jobs and many other benefits for the region including opening up public open space and river access.

In partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, we are gathering information about the landscape and water, and will engage other interested stakeholders to develop a plan for the area that will be unique for its high ecological, heritage, cultural and recreational values.

Porronggitj Karrong - A new cultural and community precinct incorporating the aqueduct

The aqueduct divides 66 hectares of Barwon Water-owned land, and as part of the plan to make the area safe, Barwon Water would like to create an area that is unique for its high ecological, heritage, cultural and recreational values. Read more via the Latest News tab below.


  • Barwon Water progresses aqueduct plans

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    Barwon Water is forming a community reference group as part of work to improve the safety of its heritage-listed Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct in Breakwater, and open up public access to the Barwon River and 66 hectares of surrounding land.

    The project will create a new cultural, recreational and community precinct in partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

    Barwon Water Managing Director Tracey Slatter said the precinct, called Porronggitj Karrong (place of the Brolga), will acknowledge Aboriginal culture and heritage alongside the European heritage values of the aqueduct structure.

    “The community reference group will provide advice and support the development of the precinct, which will not only be valued and enjoyed by the people of the Geelong but also by visitors to the region.

    “Our aspirations are high. We see possibilities for Porronggitj Karrong to be a drawcard for the region and a source of pride in the community. We see the project being a major contributor to the economic, cultural, social and recreational prosperity of our region.

    Ms Slatter said Porronggitj Karrong was a key action in Barwon Water’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

    “Through the partnership with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, it is an opportunity to rediscover, trial and introduce traditional land and water management practices to restore the environment.”

    The community reference group will also contribute to the creation of the new cultural and community precinct and provide input into the development of the Heritage Interpretation Plan for the aqueduct.

    “The Heritage Interpretation Plan will recognise the historical and architectural significance of the structure, including recording through photographic archival surveys, and using 3D technology,” Ms Slatter said.

    In November last year, Heritage Victoria granted Barwon Water a permit to remove 4 of the 14 spans of the aqueduct to improve safety and enable access to be opened up to the Barwon River and the surrounding land. The permit came with conditions to protect and conserve the remaining structure.

    Ms Slatter welcomed expressions of interest from the public in joining the community reference group, which she described as an important part of the Porronggitj Karrong and aqueduct project.

    She said the group would be an information-sharing forum on the coordinated delivery of the works. It will provide a regular, scheduled opportunity for dialogue between community members, key interest groups and the project team.

    “I’m very pleased to say the reference group will be co-chaired by Barwon Water and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.

    “We hope it will include representatives from community members and organisations with particular interests in the aqueduct, and restoring the environment. The whole community will enjoy the site’s high ecological, heritage, cultural and recreational qualities.”

    To express an interest in the community reference group, visit www.barwonwater.vic.gov.au/pk-aqueduct

    Expressions of interest close on 17 September 2021.

    Contractor appointed for aqueduct works

    Ms Slatter said work to stabilise the aqueduct and safely remove the four spans was progressing well with a preferred contractor – McMahon Services – engaged for the early works.

    “As part of the aqueduct works, the permit requires the development of a comprehensive recording program of the structure, a Heritage Infrastructure Management Plan, Heritage Interpretation Plan and structural propping works to be undertaken to stabilise the remaining structure.

    “McMahon Services is now working with our engineers on geotechnical work and construction methodology for the propping of the aqueduct.”

    Ms Slatter reminded community members that the land and river around the aqueduct remain off limits due to safety risks, including the risk of concrete falling from the aqueduct.

    “We plan, subject to weather and river conditions and the very complex nature of the work, to finish stabilisation of the structure by 2022-23 and removal of the four spans by 2023-24.

    “We anticipate that parts of the site, including the river, will open progressively to the public between 2023 and 2025. We will keep the community updated on timeframes as the project progresses.”

    Stay up to date

    Interested parties who would like to receive updates on the Porronggitj Karrong and aqueduct project, including further opportunities to have a say on the use of the area in the future, can register by emailing projects@barwonwater.vic.gov.au

    For more information on the Heritage Victoria permit decision, visit https://www.heritage.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/510445/Question-and-Answers.pdf

    Image credit: Thanks to Craig Morley of the Geelong Field Naturalists for this beautiful photograph of Brolgas. It was taken at Reedy Lake, close to Porronggitj Karrong.

  • Project update

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    Aqueduct update

    Barwon Water is continuing to progress planning for removal of the four of the 14 spans of the aqueduct structure in accordance with a Heritage Victoria permits granted on 16 November 2020.

    The works will ensure public safety and improve public access to the Barwon River and surrounding land, while balancing heritage values, Aboriginal cultural values and managing costs for our customers.

    A planning permit application to remove a minimal area of native vegetation required to facilitate the partial demolition, structural propping and associated Barwon River Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct works was lodged with City of Greater Geelong on Friday 19 March 2021.

    The native vegetation proposed to be removed, which is under and beside the aqueduct structure, will be offset with vegetation elsewhere on the site. The area will also be revegetated once the works are completed.

    We anticipate commencing the aqueduct works (including structural propping, demolition and fencing) when it's drier later this year or in early 2022, when works in the waterway are safe to be undertaken. We will keep the community informed on our progress for the works and further opportunities to get involved.

    Porronggitj Karrong project

    We are also progressing the Porronggitj Karrong project working in partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners to rehabilitate the 66 hectares of public open space surrounding the aqueduct.

    The project aims to provide a place where Aboriginal, heritage and community values can be brought together using Traditional Owner practices.

    The Wadawurrung-Barwon Water partnership team is currently undertaking research, due diligence studies and on the ground works to listen and learn from Country at Porronggitj Karrong. These initiatives have been identified by our Traditional Owners Wadawurrung as key priorities to assist us in developing a full understanding of site’s values.

    Community engagement

    We are committed to ensuring the community is kept informed and has an opportunity to have input into these important projects.

    We are currently developing a community engagement plan, outlining opportunities for the community to be involved including for example, in the development of an interpretation plan for the aqueduct as part of a wider plan for the area.

    We have established an agency reference group, including key stakeholders from Wadawurrung, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and City of Greater Geelong, which met for the first time in March. All attendees were positive about the partnership with Wadawurrung and proposed approach to the project. The group will meet again at the end of April.

  • Heritage Victoria grants Barwon Water aqueduct permit

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    Barwon Water welcomes Heritage Victoria’s decision to grant a permit to remove four of the 14 spans of the heritage-listed Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct in Breakwater.

    The important decision means the critical public safety risks posed by the aqueduct can be addressed and safe public access on the river and surrounding land can be opened up, after demolition of the spans has been completed, for the first time in nearly three decades.

    Barwon Water managing director Tracey Slatter acknowledged the decision, which came with conditions relating to the management of the remaining structure into the future, and said Barwon Water was looking forward to making the area safe.

    “While safety is our highest priority, we understand the significance of this structure and look forward to honouring its story at the site where the remaining 10 spans will continue to be viewed and enjoyed.

    “As part of the works, we will develop a Heritage Infrastructure Management Plan, undertake works to stabilise the remaining structure and install vibration monitoring.

    “Works will take a number of years and Heritage Victoria will be involved throughout the process.

    “We look forward to working with community members and stakeholders on an interpretation plan for the aqueduct which will recognise the historical and architectural significance of the structure, which will also be recorded through photographic archival surveys, and using 3D technology.”

    Ms Slatter said this significant project, costing up to $6.5 million, would generate jobs and many other benefits for the region including via opening up public open space, river access and tourism.

    She said that after the aqueduct was made safe, Barwon Water planned to progressively open the 66-hectares of surrounding Barwon Water-owned land to the public.

    “Along with the aqueduct’s significant European heritage value, the area that it occupies is also significant for the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners who have a connection with the river and surrounds which dates back thousands of years.

    “In partnership with Wadawurrung and other stakeholders we will engage broadly to develop a plan that, when implemented, will enable the area to be accessed and enjoyed by the whole community for its high ecological, heritage, cultural and recreational values.”


    Background

    The Barwon River under the aqueduct has been closed to river users due to the safety risks posed by falling concrete from the structure, but work will ensure safe access to the Barwon River and surrounding land in public parkland that will balance heritage values, Aboriginal cultural values and managing costs for Barwon Water customers.

    Referred to as Porronggitj Karrong (Place of the Brolga) the cultural and community precinct proposed for the area is intended to be an opportunity to walk, ride, paddle, reflect, and investigate, rediscover, trial, rehabilitate and introduce traditional land and water management practices.

    Plans will be developed in partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners and in consultation with the broader Geelong community.

  • Porronggitj Karrong - A new cultural and community precinct incorporating the aqueduct

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    As part of exploring opportunities for opening the surrounding land to the community, we have been working together with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners to identify the Aboriginal cultural values of the river and area.

    In partnership with Wadawurrung, we would like to gather information about the landscape and water, and engage other interested stakeholders to develop a plan for the area.

    This cultural and community precinct, referred to as Porronggitj Karrong (Place of the Brolga) is intended to be an opportunity to investigate, rediscover, trial, rehabilitate and introduce traditional land and water management practices.

    This photomontage has been developed to provide an indicative vision for the 66 ha cultural and community precinct incorporating the aqueduct. Plans will be developed in partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners and in consultation with the broader Geelong community.

    View a larger version of the photomontage PDF (2MB)

    The application currently before Heritage Victoria to remove the four spans of the aqueduct will address the immediate public safety issues and access to the waterway, as well as enable the Porronggitj Karrong vision and allow the broader community access to the 66 hectares of open space.