The Yarra River flows west from the Yarra Ranges upstream of Warburton, through the Yarra Valley and then opens out into a wider plain as it meanders through the suburbs and city of Melbourne before entering Port Phillip Bay. The Upper Yarra Reservoir, O'Shannassy Reservoir and Maroondah Reservoir harvest water from headwater tributaries and a pump station at Yering is used to divert water from the Yarra River to Sugarloaf Reservoir.
The Yarra River and its tributaries continue to be an important place for Traditional Owners and their Nations. The Wurundjeri Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Aboriginal Corporation is the Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) for much of the region. Melbourne Water and the VEWH are continuing to work with the RAP to understand how management of water for the environment in the Yarra River can better support Aboriginal aspirations through a joint cultural values mapping project.
In September, landmark legislation protecting the Yarra River — the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017 — passed the Victorian Parliament. It identifies the Yarra River and the many hundreds of parcels of land it flows through as one living, integrated, natural entity. It combines the wisdom of Traditional Owners with modern river management expertise. The Act gives an independent voice to the river by way of the Birrarung Council, a statutory advisory body which must have at least two Traditional Owner representatives on it.