At present, the only access to Herring Island is by private river craft (kayaks, canoes or dinghies). Occasional intrepid swimmers have also been known to visit Herring Island. Ferry services have been provided for occasional open days and special events. Existing access facilities include a concrete landing stage near the Alexandra Avenue picnic area, rough sleeper steps on Herring Island opposite this point, and another set of stone steps on the northern bank of Herring Island. However, peripheral road and public transport access is good (Figure 1), as are nearby parking facilities.
The difficulty of access to Herring Island from Richmond is a major concern to this municipality. 'Richmond has a comparatively high population density and low proportion of open space per capita. The lack of adequate access to Herring Island has led to a perception of Herring Island as no man's land', a situation which has encouraged overtures by property developers. However, limited access does have its benefits. Not least among these is the atmosphere of intrigue evoked by an island setting, adding a sense of adventure to recreational visits. Other important benefits are the relative lack of weed invasion, pest animals and wandering domestic pets, which can kill or maim indigenous fauna in more accessible nature reserves. Provision of suitable access and recreational, opportunities are thus particularly important management issues.
A major consideration in planning access facilities to Herring Island is the river traffic. This section of the Yarra carries a number of users, including the BOW cruise boats, competitive rowers and small recreational craft. Access points should therefore be kept to a minimum. To minimise potential river traffic problems, there will be one access point on the Island, located on the south- east 'corner' of Herring Island. A jetty will be built at the proposed access point near the McConchie Reserve in Richmond to facilitate access from the northern side of the River.
While the spirit of recommendations in the Lower Yarra Concept Plan (MPE 1986) precludes commercial development for Herring Island, there are a number of services (e.g. a ferry service) suggested within this Management Plan which cannot be provided within the Committee of Management's current budget. Without treating such proposals on a commercial basis, the expense of providing these services would be prohibitive. The Committee of Management have also received expressions of interest from small tour operators who wish to include Herring Island as a destination on Yarra cruises.
Management of access to and from Herring Island must take into consideration the level of acceptable recreational use of the Island. The Island will be particularly vulnerable to user damage during the early stages of revegetation. Provision of access facilities will be gradually upgraded as revegetation plantings mature. Priority will be given to the provision of a safer disembarkation point on the Island for works crews, community groups and schools involved in rehabilitation works. Bridge access is inappropriate, at least in the short term, due to potential problems of excessive visitor usage and the threat to the Island's native fauna from domestic pets.
The Crown Land (Reserves) Act (1978) allows for regulations to be made which impose fees and charges upon people using any part of Herring Island, or any facilities within Herring Island. Private operators (for example, ferry or tour operators) may be invited to apply for a concession to provide some form of commercial access service to Herring Island. Concessions have the advantage of reducing staff and equipment requirements. Prospective. concessionaires should be able to demonstrate:
· expertise in providing the service;
· willingness to promote an awareness of Herring Island's management philosophy; and
· capability of complying with the terms and conditions of the concession as required by the Department of Conservation and Environment.
The possibility of concessions for a ferry service and/or boat hire for Herring Island should be investigated.
To provide safe access to the general community, including those people with mobility difficulties.
To minimise potential river traffic problems.
To provide for commercial services compatible with Management Objectives.
Provide a suitable landing and safe access point on the south- eastern corner of Herring Island (Figure 5).
Provide a landing stage near the McConchie Reserve for access from the northern side of the Yarra River (Figure 5). Landings should cater for a range of craft, from canoes to large ferries.
Construct internal access tracks of a suitable grade and surface to cater for people with limited mobility. Track routing should allow for obvious 'desire lines' where possible, to avoid erosion and other damage.
High / Ongoing
Purchase a suitable boat for ferrying limited numbers of visitors during the early stages of Herring Island's development. Investigate the demand for a small-scale commercial ferry service and/or boat hire service in the long term.
Instigate a booking system for large groups (i.e. more than ten individuals).
Investigate the potential for commercial ferry, boat hire or other services (fee-charging) which are consistent with the management objectives.
Develop the track/interpretation trail around Herring Island Figure 5).
Provide suitable ramp facilities from Herring Island's access point to enable easy access for work crews and visitors, particularly those with limited mobility.