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Yarra River Business Association

03 Mar 2020

Throwing support behind our new winter festival

The birth of a new idea for the river is a special moment, especially when it is delivered by someone as talented as Gideon Obarzanek.

At the February 27 Yarra River Business Association (YRBA) luncheon, we were privileged to be among the first in Melbourne to learn about the city’s new winter festival.

It was appropriate to be delivered at a Yarra River function, because the lower Yarra River is going to play a major role in the new event.

What we can expect is a series of illuminated installations floating along the Yarra’s banks for between 300 and 400 metres, plus projected illuminations onto the river side of Hamer Hall. What’s more, the installations and illuminations will be there for 10 days and nights, during late-August.

This event wants Melburnians to revel in our winter weather. You might have to rug up and bring an umbrella to see them, but Melburnians are very resilient, especially when it comes to international-quality cultural events. After all, we happily sit in the cold and wet of the MCG to watch a three-hour football match! By the way, did you know that visitation to cultural tourism events far outstrips football attendance in this city?

We are assured that within two to three years, this new festival will be the talk of the Southern Hemisphere. It is heavily backed by the state government, which wants to give Hobart’s Dark Mofo something to compete with.

The winter festival is yet another sign that the river is being better activated, thanks to a new attitude at Parks Victoria, and a recognition by the state government that the lower Yarra River is the “shop window” for the Melbourne tourism experience.

The City of Melbourne also seems to have a new attitude towards the lower Yarra. Late last year, it adopted the Yarra River-Birrarung Strategy. It’s a far-sighted, visionary document for what needs to happen along our stretch of river and its banks, with particular relevance to the much-neglected Northbank.

The YRBA had a major hand in assisting the council team, and we have now called upon the CEO to create an overseeing committee to keep the momentum going. Because Northbank involves multiple state and private stakeholders, it is a complicated task, especially getting government departments and authorities to put aside their territorial instincts and work collaboratively to bring ideas to fruition.

The vision for Northbank is for it to be a very relaxing green spine, which allows the CBD to open out to the river and to provide a democratic space for residents, workers and visitors to enjoy the water vistas. Southbank will always be the bustling commercial hub, and Northbank will be its quieter, less flamboyant cousin.

The start of a new business year is always a good time to remind the many thousands of businesses located in Southbank that they have a 21-year-old, active business association on their doorstep. For as little as a $70 membership per year, they can be plugged into what’s happening and the opportunities that arise all the time. Membership details can be obtained from the executive officer at exoff@yarrariver.melbourne or on 0412 502 931

John Forman 

President - Yarra River Business Association

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