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Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park

The island is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Country of the Wurundjeri People. Parks Victoria respects the deep and continuing connection that Traditional Owners have to these lands and waters, and we recognise their ongoing role in caring for Country.

Herring Island is a small 3.2ha artificial island located on the Birrarung “Yarra River” in South Yarra, Naarm, approximately 4kms from the city centre.

To get to the island, catch the free punt service (weekends and public holidays from January until Easter) or make your own way there in a boat, canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. 

The island is best known for its unique sculpture park. The trail that weaves through these sculptures is a must-do for anyone visiting the island. 

Herring Island forms an environmental corridor of wildlife and regional vegetation. The island consists of indigenous forest and grassland communities. The dominant vegetation includes River Red Gum around the perimeter, Silver Wattle, Manna Gum, Drooping Sheaoke, Southern Mahogany, Wallaby and Spear Grass, Chocolate and Bulbine Lilies, and native Everlasting Daisies.

The varieties of birds that occupy this vegetation commonly seen include Honeyeaters, Willie Wagtails, Cormorants, Darters, Kookaburras, Magpies, Wattlebirds and Herons. Waterbirds such as the Pacific Black Duck, Maned Ducks and Dusky Moorhens shelter and forage within the reeds. Possums, lizards, and snakes are also found on the island.

 

Herring Island history

Herring Island is the only substantial island on the Yarra River. Originally a basalt quarry in the 1800s, this artificial island was formed in 1928 by cutting a river channel through the disused Richmond quarry severing the section of land, which is now Herring Island from Richmond, creating a shortcut for the river to lessen the likelihood of flooding. In doing so the natural course of the river, which winds around the southern side of the island was altered. Natural outcrops of basalt can still be seen on the northern corner of the island, revealing a glimpse of the fascinating history of the site. In 1934, the biggest flood ever recorded submerged the island after which the levee banks were rebuilt, and revegetation of the island began.

During the 1950s and 1970s, the Scout Association of Australia leased the island, then known as Como Island. The name of the island was changed by the Scouts in 1952 to Herring Island in honour of the association’s president, Sir Edmund Herring. 

In the 1990s the island became managed by the state government and, 1996, Parks Victoria in association with Maudie Palmer developed the concept for an Environmental Sculpture Park. Over the next five years, unique sculptures were added to the island's landscape to enhance the island's natural and recreational attributes and provide a retreat from the urban environment of the city.

 

Things To Do

 
A sculpture in Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park

Sculpture Trail

Explore the 9 environmental sculptures interwoven into the parks’ landscape as you follow the Herring Island Sculpture Trail as it loops the island. Created by internationally renowned artists, the sculptures celebrate the natural environment.

Barbecuing and picnicking at Herring Island

At the eastern end of the island near the southern landing, you will find the grassy picnic area which contains free electric barbecues or you can bring portable gas or liquid barbecues. Drinking fountains, picnic shelters and nearby toilet facilities are provided. Bring your family, friends and a picnic to make a day out of your visit.

Herring Island flora and fauna

Herring Island forms an environmental corridor of wildlife and regional vegetation. Wander the indigenous forest and grassland landscape and keep your eyes peeled for a huge variety of birds along with possums, lizards, and snakes.

 

Tours and adventure experiences in parks

One of the best ways you can get into nature is with a Licensed Tour Operator.

There are more than 400 Licensed Tour Operators across Victoria who are ready and waiting to help you experience and connect with Victoria’s spectacular parks and waterways.

Discover more than 60 different types of nature-based experiences including hiking, mountain biking, boating, four-wheel driving, indigenous culture tours, birdwatching, surfing, diving and so much more. 

Licensed Tour Operators know all the best places to go and will plan and prepare your visit to ensure you are safe and can enjoy your nature-based adventure to the fullest.

Find a Licensed Tour Operator

How to get there

Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park

Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park is accessible by boat, canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard. Licensed Tour Operators also provide transport options to the island.

On weekends and public holidays in the summertime, catch the free punt across from Como Landing from the first weekend of January until the Easter long weekend (Easter Monday included). See the information about the Herring Island Punt below.

When to go

Enjoy a picnic on the lawn, meander along the sculpture trail and keep your eyes peeled for the local animals taking shade under the trees.

Need to know

Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park

Change of Conditions

Nature being nature, sometimes conditions can change at short notice. It’s a good idea to check this page ahead of your visit for any updates.

  • Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park

    Herring Island BBQ's temporarily closed

    Parks Victoria is carrying out inspections in all of our barbecues in our parks. Following these inspections, some barbecues have been temporarily closed until they can be attended by a licenced contractor. We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused.

    Visitor safety is our top priority and we advise people to please not to use any barbecue facilities that have been closed. We expect the impacted barbecues to reopen in the coming weeks.

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