Herring Island represents a relatively large area of public open space within the inner suburbs. However, in terms of natural reserves, Herring Island is small and consequently vulnerable, particularly given its history of degradation. Management of recreational use must therefore recognize the potential for conflict between visitor use and the natural values of Herring Island, and take appropriate action to minimise this conflict.


Herring Island is an important recreational asset in the inner suburbs. Its isolation and 'bush' setting provide a wonderful opportunity for escape from the city and suburbs, while being easily accessible from these areas. Such undeveloped reserves are a particularly important recreational resource in the urban environment, catering for a wide range of unstructured recreational activities. Herring Island is therefore of considerable significance within the context of local open space, which is characterised by small reserves and a fairly high level of development (sports grounds, structured play facilities and picnic areas). Herring Island is potentially an important reserve in terms of accessibility for people with various physical disadvantages, who are frequently restricted from recreational use in less developed or remote nature reserves'.

The island setting of Herring Island provides elements of mystique and adventure, contrasting with surrounding highly-developed areas. Travel to and from this island also forms an important element in the recreational experience. Herring- Island, provides an interesting destination for Yarra River journeys.

Herring Island has potential for limited dispersed picnicking (i.e. without formal picnic facilities) in Zone 2 (Nature Recreation). As Herring Island's rehabilitation progresses, provision of limited picnic facilities may be feasible, although barbeque facilities already exist in two nearby reserves (Williams Reserve and Barkly Gardens). A 'no bins' policy should be enforced, given the maintenance difficulties on Herring Island.

The undulating topography and 'bush' vegetation provides good views across and within Herring Island, as well as a marvellous setting for adventure play. Imaginative, unstructured play is an important experience for children, who are too often constrained by adults concepts of 'suitable' play.

Natural and semi-natural areas such as Herring Island provide almost unlimited scope for play. Hummocks on Herring Island provide topographical interest and a sense of enclosure within the otherwise flat and fairly featureless inner city area, and offer some degree of protection/screening for birdlife within the Conservation Zone. The existing vegetation supports a diverse range of birdlife. Birdwatching and nature walks are expected to be popular recreational activities at Herring Island. To enable closer observation of bird species, a bird hide should be constructed overlooking reed beds on the eastern shore of the Island.

The lower reaches of the Yarra River are becoming increasingly popular with anglers. Fishing platforms such as those along the Maribyrnong River should be provided to avoid bank damage.


The primary management objective of Herring Island is nature conservation. Within this framework, only passive recreation will be permitted. Due to the fairly degraded vegetation and erodable saline silty soils, even passive recreation will need to be regulated to some extent to avoid excessive damage to Herring Island's natural systems. Conflict between natural values and recreational use is minimised to some extent, by the zoning system. Appropriate siting and design of facilities will also reduce potential user damage. As stated in the Lower Yarra Concept Plan (1986), camping will not be permitted on Herring Island, as it is too intensive for Herring Island's capacity. Levels of staffing and maintenance will also affect the degree of recreational use acceptable on Herring Island.

The Yarra River, while providing a scenic backdrop, also restricts access to the Island
(Photograph: Noel Ryan).

Herring Island will be particularly susceptible to user damage during the rehabilitation phase. For this reason, recreational activities will be restricted to the low-level individual use which exists at the moment, in addition to occasional community planting and open days until plantings are sufficiently resilient to cope with more intensive recreational use. This phase is expected to last for three to five years. During this phase, a study should be undertaken of the recreational needs of present and potential Herring Island user populations and the potential recreational use of Herring Island.


To provide a range of recreational and educational opportunities, with the emphasis on passive recreation in a natural environment.

To confine intensive use of Herring Island to defined areas.

To control illegal or inappropriate recreation activities.

Manage recreational activities to reduce conflicts between recreational use and environmental values, as outlined in Table 2.

Undertake a study of the recreational needs of present and potential Herring Island user populations, and the potential recreational use of the Island.

Investigate the potential recreational use of Herring Island, and the likely impact of recreational use on the Island.

High/ Ongoing
Site, build and maintain all facilities to ensure minimum impact on conservation and landscape values.

Provide recreational facilities and tracks as outlined in Table 3 and Figure 5.

Implement a 'take your litter home' -No Bins- policy to reduce the litter problem and associated maintenance cost.

Formulate Regulations for the care, protection and management of Herring Island. Investigate ways to patrol and enforce Regulations.

Monitor the effectiveness of Regulations and revise when necessary.

Prepare signage to inform, educate and regulate visitor usage at Herring Island. Signs will be installed at all access points to the Island (Figure 5).

Issue permits for non-conforming recreational activities only where these uses do not conflict with the management objectives of the Island, and after consultation with the Regional Manager of the Department of Conservation and Environment.

Provide composting toilet facilities on Herring Island.

Table 2     Appropriate Recreational Uses in each Management Zone
Recreational Uses Management Zone
Conservation Nature
- formal NOYES
- dispersed NOYES
Nature Study CONDYES
Camping NONO


Table 2     Appropriate Developments in each Management Zone
(see Figure 5)
Developments Management Zone
Conservation Nature
Access Points NOYES
Landing FacilitiesNOYES
Walking TrackCONDYES
Emergency Fire AccessNOYES
Viewing Point NOYES
Toilet FacilitiesNOYES
Picnic FacilitiesNOYES
Interpretation ShelterNOYES