Inland rivers provide social and economic benefits yet for decade’s Goulburn’s waterways have been let go, that is until now.
Action by Goulburn Mulwaree Council to create a walkway along parts of the Wollondilly River is not only gaining community approval but is a potential tourist attraction, much like the Wiradjuri Walking Track at Wagga which skirts the Murrumbidgee River.
However, despite the current council’s action, there is significant river remedial works and beautification to be done, resulting in the rivers remaining a largely untapped resource.
“I think the Mulwaree Ponds and Wollondilly River have flowed under the radar as an asset for the town for a long time,” Goulburn real estate agent Graeme Welsh said.
“When I was a child we canoed and swam in the Wollondilly but over the years our rivers have lost their lustre at a time when other regional towns have been dressing their rivers up. However, the new Wollondilly River Walkway is a good start.”
Goulburn Mulwaree Council began work on the walkway in March 2016. The first stage was partially funded by the NSW Government and consisted of 2.5km of concrete pathways and areas for people to exercise, picnic or barbecue, or just enjoy the river.
Stage two of the project is underway and includes an extension of the concrete pathway, an elevated walkway and pedestrian and cycle river crossing.
The council has a long-term vision for the Wollondilly River but acknowledges community partnerships are also needed.
“Council’s vision for the [Wollondilly] River is for it to be one of Goulburn’s main meeting places as spaces like Belmore Park and Victoria Park currently are,” Louise Wakefield, Director of Growth, Strategy and Culture said.
“The River Walkway in its current form goes some way to achieving this but we feel this project will work best if we can get involvement from community groups and schools who would like to contribute and add to the green spaces along the walkway.
“The community has been incredibly positive in regards to this project from the beginning which has made our job easy in pushing forward. The River Walkway has quickly become a space we receive regular positive feedback around, which is why we will continue to devote resources to continuing with the next stages and improving the landscaping and river itself.”
Improving community amenity has been a timely strategy as Goulburn’s property market has heated.
“The market is red hot at the moment,” Graeme said. And people will pay a premium to live close to the river. This is being reflected in a number of residential subdivisions that are making good use of the Wollondilly River in marketing campaigns.
“The Boatshed Estate is one example where developers have seen the potential of the river,” Graeme said.
Described as a “boutique estate in this historic re-vitalized part of Goulburn” and “amazing water views straight down the Wollondilly River”, blocks start at $259,000.
“[Snow Gums Estate] in Clyde Street is another development which is taking advantage of water views,” Graeme said.
Residential property demand is, predictably, coming from Sydney and Canberra. In recent months, Graeme has noticed a buy-in from Camden region residents following the announcement of Sydney’s second airport.
“Our rivers have been out of sight and out of mind, and I don’t know why but we’ve always been a bit gun shy about celebrating what we’ve had in Goulburn,” Graeme said.
“Goulburn was established because of the rivers. Blackshaw’s Well located beside the Mulwaree Ponds originally supplied the town’s water. It doesn’t have a plaque letting people know that history, for example.
“This current council has made a good start but the community also needs to step up, just as they did with the Wetlands project which turned an old brick pit into a walking and scenic spot by the Mulwaree Ponds.”
Graeme was born and bred in Goulburn and has been in real estate some 30 years.
Goulburn is Australia’s first inland city, established around 1820. Centrally located between Canberra and Sydney, Goulburn’s population is now growing after periods of decline in recent decades. As of the 30 June 2016, Goulburn Mulwaree Council area’s population was 30,150.