Shire President John Nicholas with plans for the Blackwood River Foreshore

Bridgetown’s million-dollar Blackwood River Foreshore development is set to go ahead this financial year if funding from the Commonwealth and State government can be secured.

Additional funds may also be needed from the Bridgetown-Greenbushes Shire as part of the funding plan being developed by the Shire.

The project has three components. The Rectory Walk, which runs west from the bridge to the old Rectory, will be upgraded to make it a more attractive destination for locals and tourists.

On the other side of the bridge, the River Walk running from the bottom of Greys Hill road back into town will be resurfaced and upgraded with better drainage.

Road access and car parking will also be upgraded, including a ramp for kayakers.

Pathways to the pedestrian bridge and behind the caravan park and bowling club will also be improved.

The Bridgetown-Greenbushes council endorsed the designs and costings at its June meeting and the project now just needs funding to proceed.

Local services and tradespeople will be employed wherever possible in the project to maximise its local economic stimulus.

Revegetation

The cost of revegetation hasn’t been included in the project’s budget.  

At their June meeting councillors were assured through the council agenda that the Bunbury Prison Pre-release Unit had agreed to help with revegetation after construction work is finished, and that they would be directed by the community landcare officer and the Shire’s parks and gardens staff.

However, Shire CEO Tim Clynch later told the Bridgetown Star that the participation of the Pre-Release Unit and the landcare officer had not been confirmed but that he was hopeful that would happen.

Community consultation

The project has been three years in the making and has undergone considerable community consultation according to Bridgetown-Greenbushes Shire president, John Nicholas.

The shire has previously been criticised from environmental groups about clearing land around the river and has been consulting Bridgetown-Greenbushes Landcare from early in the project’s planning stages.

Cheryl Hamence, community landcare officer, said she was satisfied that the consultation process was as it should have been.

The area is also a registered Aboriginal heritage site and approval has been gained from the State Government for the project to proceed.

“The projects will be going ahead, we’ve committed them in our business plan for 20/21,” Mr Nicholas said.

Approval has also been given for a separate initiative by a local artist to create a sculpture park in the area of land currently owned by Main Roads between the two bridges.

“We’re hoping to link all of this up as well so it will be an art trail as well as a walk trail,” Mr Nicholas said.

The Foreshore project is part of the Shire’s plans for an increased population in town from the expansion of the Talison lithium project in Greenbushes that is predicted to bring an additional 1,000 residents to Bridgetown, according to Mr Nicholas.

Other Shire projects include the Town Hall renovation, a youth precinct, the Greenbushes Recreation Centre, and the Bridgetown Railway Station renovation.

Commonwealth money for the Foreshore project and others may come from drought relief funding and the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund.