Photos survey the “untouched” Yarra

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A Melbourne maths teacher is among volunteers helping an engineer who wades chest-high with iphone-sized camera attached to a thin pole in a unique photo survey of the Yarra, writes Daniel Devlin.

Nicole Rose will not forget a “remote, dark and enclosed” day in the Yarra river’s peninsula tunnels.

At 60, the Melbourne maths teacher was determined to take part in a unique photo survey capturing the current state of the Yarra.

“I loved every second of it,” she said of the project led by Melbourne engineer Christian Taylor.   “It was a brilliant day out”.

Ms Rose is one of several volunteers helping Mr Taylor in his Yarra River Photo Survey. Slipping on “unstable riverbanks”, she said the process could be risky at times.

“It would not be wise to do what Christian does alone,” Ms Rose said of the engineer who wades chest-high through the river, with an iphone-sized camera attached to a thin pole.

Mr Taylor has covered 16 km of the Yarra’s 242 km length in 13 months. He said the project is taking “longer than expected”.

The coastal engineer said that he was inspired to take 360-degree photographs of the Yarra “roughly every 20 metres”, to create a first of its kind documentation.

He plans to provide Google Earth with his photographic record of the Yarra. Volunteers such as Ms Rose have helped quicken this process.

Along the peninsula tunnels, Ms Rose assisted Mr Taylor in camera adjustment as well as the measuring water quality.

In the dark, Ms Rose and Mr Taylor traveled along the peninsula tunnels, taking “an entire day” said Ms Rose. With a “love for adventure”, this was a life-affirming experience.

“Without volunteers, the process of taking photos would become a lot more difficult,” Mr Taylor said.

With plans to photograph the Yarra river’s entire 242km, Mr Taylor has struggled to gain access to the Yarra’s highly preserved upper catchment.

Photographing there would provide the public with updated imagery of the Yarra’s untouched 24km.

Mr Taylor said he understood the “environmental sensitivity” of entering the upper catchment, expressing “the obvious upset” it could cause.

In his 18 years as a coastal engineer, he has tested water qualities across Melbourne, primarily during his work with flood studies.

Now, as part of the Yarra River Photo Survey, Mr Taylor is slowly discovering the Yarra’s current water conditions as part of a “science record”, he said.

After volunteering for Mr Taylor, Nicole Rose said she believed that he “absolutely should be allowed access” into the river’s upper catchment.

Although the process has been slow for Mr Taylor, his passion for documenting the Yarra’s condition is still very much alive.

“I’ve always loved the idea of following something from source to sea,” he said of his journey. Now with 226km to go, his survey is far from over.