Council drills into Yarra for further Greenline clues

David Schout

Drilling into the Yarra River bed will help determine which boardwalks and promenades are feasible for Greenline.

The City of Melbourne has conducted drilling into the Yarra River to discover which large-scale “over-water features” are possible for the four-kilometre Greenline trail along Northbank. 

The drilling, which took place in the final week of June, sought to build a geotechnical and soil profile of the river, which will inform the sub-structures of the new boardwalks and promenades promised as part of the “city-shaping” project.

Designs revealed by the council earlier this year revealed striking renders for a winding boardwalk between Princes Bridge and Evan Walker Bridge, directly opposite Southbank Promenade.

The recent works would determine the practicality of these designs, and construction methodologies for future foundations.



A large barge moved between four key locations along the northern side of Melbourne’s iconic waterway – also known by its traditional name “Birrarung”, meaning “river of mists” in the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung languages – as part of the works. 

“The Greenline Project is taking a significant step forward with the commencement of investigative drilling works that will help us better understand the profile of the Yarra River floor,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said. 


We’ll use these new findings to help design Greenline’s over-water features, including brand-new boardwalks and promenades.


“This is another key step towards bringing this landmark project to life and delivering a more connected and immersive space for our community along the north bank.” 

The council said a contractor would soon be appointed for works at Birrarung Marr, which had earlier been flagged to begin in mid-2023  but would now start in late 2023 at the earliest. 

Works at Birrarung Marr represented the first section of the $300 million four-kilometre path that is set to run to the Bolte Bridge.

The City of Melbourne has sought a three-way funding model of $100 million each from itself and the state and federal governments.

However, to date only $20 million has been promised by the Commonwealth.

Premier Daniel Andrews was yet to come to the table, and the Victorian Government failed to allocate Greenline any funding in its 2023-24 budget released on May 23.

“We’ve got $120 million dedicated to the project at the moment, and lots of different ways in which we can seek revenue and grants for funding, so there will be ongoing discussions with the state government,” Cr Capp said. 

The fragmentation of controlling authorities along the river meant Greenline has to jump through a significant number of hoops before it gets off the ground.



The City of Melbourne does not own or independently manage the waterways or banks of the Yarra River, and a number of key government agencies and stakeholders need to be looped into any moves.

Cr Capp said early-stage collaboration had been strong.

“In these early stages what’s been critical is to be able to work with all the state government agencies – Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria, Vic Track, MAPCo (Melbourne Arts Precinct Corporation) to name a few, and we’ve all come to together into working groups, doing the consultation, bringing expertise and really do all the preparatory work necessary to start Greenline actual works later this year.”

The Lord Mayor said while outward progress was not yet apparent, momentum was being created.


With a project of this scale, it’s been frustrating for me because I want people be able to see what’s happening but it’s a lot of work behind the scenes, and the more of that gets developed, the more we finalise budgets for each stage, the more we’re able to engage in those funding discussions.


Endorsed in 2021, the City of Melbourne originally forecast Greenline would be completed by 2028.

However, funding issues and Cr Capp’s indication the project would be rolled out “over the next six to eight years” means that timeline no longer appeared achievable. 

The Lord Mayor made the project a key part of her 2018 by-election and 2020 general election strategy, winning on both occasions.

She has said Greenline would deliver one of the biggest transformations of the city since the completion of Southbank Promenade in 1990 and the opening of Federation Square in 2002. 

“It has the whole sense of something locals feel proud about, but also something that’s going to be of a lot of interest to international visitors as well, so it goes right across [the board],” she said. 

Join our Facebook Group