Porronggitj Karrong and Aqueduct

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Barwon Water is working to improve the safety of its heritage-listed Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct in Breakwater, Geelong, 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. The new precinct will acknowledge Aboriginal culture and heritage alongside the European heritage values of the aqueduct. Porronggitj Karrong is the current project name and means place of the Brolga. Wadawurrung Traditional Owners will confirm a final name for the precinct in the planning process.

Aqueduct history

The aqueduct was constructed between 1912 and 1915, and carried the Geelong outfall sewer across the Barwon River. It was decommissioned in 1992 when a new sewer pipeline was built under the river. Safety risks posed by falling concrete from the deteriorating structure have meant the area around the aqueduct has been closed to the public since 1995.

Heritage Victoria permit

In November 2020, Heritage Victoria granted Barwon Water a permit to remove 4 of the 14 spans of the aqueduct. The permit came with conditions to protect and conserve the remaining structure.

A future for the aqueduct and surrounds

In considering the future of the aqueduct, Barwon Water investigated options for ensuring public safety and improving public access to the Barwon River and surrounding land, while balancing:

  • heritage values
  • Aboriginal cultural values
  • environmental values
  • and managing costs for our customers.

The aqueduct is a visible part of Geelong’s otherwise hidden first public sewerage system – and a symbol of Barwon Water’s 100+ year commitment to public health. Barwon Water understands the significance of this structure to many in the community and is committed to engaging with Heritage Victoria, community members and stakeholders on an interpretation plan for the aqueduct as part of a wider plan for the area.

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 for the aqueduct works, will generate jobs and many other benefits for the region through opening up public open space and river access.

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

Safety

The land and river around the aqueduct remain off limits due to safety risks, including the risk of concrete falling from the aqueduct, and while we undertake works on site. Once the site is made safe, we will progressively open it to the community from sometime between mid-2023 to 2025.


Barwon Water is working to improve the safety of its heritage-listed Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct in Breakwater, Geelong, 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. The new precinct will acknowledge Aboriginal culture and heritage alongside the European heritage values of the aqueduct. Porronggitj Karrong is the current project name and means place of the Brolga. Wadawurrung Traditional Owners will confirm a final name for the precinct in the planning process.

Aqueduct history

The aqueduct was constructed between 1912 and 1915, and carried the Geelong outfall sewer across the Barwon River. It was decommissioned in 1992 when a new sewer pipeline was built under the river. Safety risks posed by falling concrete from the deteriorating structure have meant the area around the aqueduct has been closed to the public since 1995.

Heritage Victoria permit

In November 2020, Heritage Victoria granted Barwon Water a permit to remove 4 of the 14 spans of the aqueduct. The permit came with conditions to protect and conserve the remaining structure.

A future for the aqueduct and surrounds

In considering the future of the aqueduct, Barwon Water investigated options for ensuring public safety and improving public access to the Barwon River and surrounding land, while balancing:

  • heritage values
  • Aboriginal cultural values
  • environmental values
  • and managing costs for our customers.

The aqueduct is a visible part of Geelong’s otherwise hidden first public sewerage system – and a symbol of Barwon Water’s 100+ year commitment to public health. Barwon Water understands the significance of this structure to many in the community and is committed to engaging with Heritage Victoria, community members and stakeholders on an interpretation plan for the aqueduct as part of a wider plan for the area.

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 for the aqueduct works, will generate jobs and many other benefits for the region through opening up public open space and river access.

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

Safety

The land and river around the aqueduct remain off limits due to safety risks, including the risk of concrete falling from the aqueduct, and while we undertake works on site. Once the site is made safe, we will progressively open it to the community from sometime between mid-2023 to 2025.


  • Project update - Early works and aqueduct recording

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    We’ve now completed early works at the site, including geotechnical testing, removing vegetation under and beside the aqueduct, and preparing tracks for work access.

    Clearing of vegetation under the aqueduct has allowed us to complete the photographic recording of the aqueduct, which will be used in a Heritage Interpretation Plan for the structure.

    Propping of 10 of the 14 spans of the aqueduct, and the removal of 4 spans across the river, will start from the middle of this year.

    Propping design

    We have submitted the design for the propping structure to Heritage Victoria for approval. The permanent propping structure will support every loaded structural component and help to hold up the aqueduct if any individual span should fail. We will share the design after it is has been approved.

    Heritage Victoria permit amendment

    Earlier this year Heritage Victoria approved an amended heritage permit to allow the conservation propping works and span removal works to be completed together rather than in two separate stages.

    The approach is based on advice from the contractor, and aims to reduce safety risks to workers, and may allow the works on the aqueduct to be completed more efficiently.

    As the aqueduct is on a floodplain, wet weather may mean the works may need to be paused at times.

    Ensuring community safety

    To ensure your safety, we ask that you do not walk onto the site or the private property south of the Barwon River, to view the aqueduct. Given large plant and equipment will be moving around the site, there is no public access to the aqueduct or surrounding areas on either side of the river while works are being undertaken.

    You can view the aqueduct from a distance, from the end of Tanner Street, Breakwater. Please visit outside of construction hours, for example on a weekend, to avoid heavy machinery. Please do not cross any fences at any time.

    Porronggitj Karrong

    A list of plant species found on the Porronggitj Karrong site is now available on the project website, along with a list of mammals, birds and amphibians.

    We are continuing to gather information about the landscape and water, to feed into a Healthy Country Plan for the site.


    Image Caption: Plants on site at Porronggitj Karrong include Water Buttons (Cotula coronopifolia).


    Kitjarra-dja-bul Bullarto Langi-ut

    In April, Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) launched the beginning of the Kitjarra-dja-bul Bullarto langi-ut Masterplan.

    The aim of the plan is to increase public access to the unique environmental, cultural and recreational values of the Barwon and Moorabool Rivers.

    Kitjarra-dja-bul Bullarto langi-ut is the Wadawurrung name for the project previously known as the Barwon River Parklands and translates to “places of many stories”.

    Porronggitj Karrong is a significant place along the Barwon River and is therefore a key project with linkages to Kitjarra-dja bul Bullarto-langi ut.

    You can find out more on the CCMA website.

  • Project update - First meeting of the Community Reference Group

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    The Community Reference Group for the Porronggitj Karrong and Aqueduct project met for the first time in November last year.

    Barwon Water and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation welcomed 15 community members to the group, which will meet quarterly to provide input into the project.

    A key task for the group will be to contribute to a Heritage Interpretation Plan for the aqueduct. The group will also provide feedback on a Healthy Country Plan for the site, in a process led by Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.

    The next meeting will be in the first quarter of 2022.

    Aqueduct update

    In early 2022, works will begin to remove vegetation under and beside the aqueduct.

    The works to add a propping structure under the aqueduct to help conserve it, will begin from April 2022. Four of the 14 spans of the aqueduct will be removed across the river, to enable safe public access along and beside the river.

    The works will take some months to complete, and will need to take place while the floodplain is relatively dry.

    Barwon Water’s heritage advisors Lovell Chen will prepare a Heritage Interpretation Plan with input from the Community Reference Group and the wider community in 2022. It will be finalised within 12 months of the completion of the works.

    Barwon Water has engaged a specialist recordist to take hundreds of photos, a video and a 3D structure recording, for use in the Heritage Interpretation Plan. Final recordings will be completed after vegetation underneath the aqueduct is removed.

    Porronggitj Karrong update

    The vision for the site is for ‘a balanced ecological system incorporating Wadawurrung traditional values, for our community to connect, listen and learn from Country.’

    Barwon Water and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation have been gathering information, and are aiming to trial a range of traditional land management practices. We will engage with stakeholders to develop a Healthy Country Plan for the site, in a process led by Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.

    Palaeobotany research is being undertaken and will give information about past vegetation, evidence of fire and waterways. It involves taking a core soil sample, to reveal information going back thousands of years. (Palaeobotany means identifying plant remains in rocks and soil and so on.)

    Cultural burning for a small part of the site is planned, and information is being gathered about the plants, birds and animals found on the site.

    At the meeting, Community Reference Group members heard the story of Bundjil, the Wedge Tailed Eagle, who created the country, rivers, hills, animals and humans. Bundjil created a resting place, Lal Falls. One of Bundjil’s wives is Connewarre the black swan. For Wadawurrung people, it is important that Lal Falls and Lake Connewarre are connected. Porronggitj Karrong sits in that system, as the Barwon River runs from Lal Lal Falls to Lake Connewarre.

    Porronggitj Karrong is the working title for the project, and means ‘Place of the Brolga’.

    New resources on the website

    Drone footage taken in August 2020 gives a good overview of the site for those who would like to check it out.

    We have also made available historic photographs of the aqueduct during its construction, plus a list of flora and fauna found on the Porronggitj Karrong site.

    A short video about the project is also available and will be shared on social media channels.


  • 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.

Page last updated: 02 Aug 2022, 11:04 AM