A “gentle wow factor” in Bingara riverscape proposal

May 20, 2009

Three years ago Bingara and District Vision 20/20 re-launched the concept of the Bingara Riverscape Project. Several attempts had been made to produce a landscape project for the area of the Gwydir River immediately north of the Maitland Street CBD in Bingara. All had faltered.

A community survey of Bingara and District residents carried out by Vision 20/20, had identified the Riverscape Project as being a top priority of the community. The plan was for the beautification and enhancement for gentle recreation, of that part of the Gwydir River foreshore adjoining the town centre.

After two community "site meetings" and an interactive computer design evening held at Bingara Central School, a draft design was created. Gwydir Shire Council supported the project and engaged award winning landscape architect John Mongard from Brisbane, to create the design.

John Mongard and his team were also commissioned to design a town plan for Warialda, and they spent some time in Gwydir Shire in 2008, researching both projects. Their visits included conducting two well supported "shop front" community consultations in Warialda and Bingara.

The latest Bingara Riverscape Development Plan from John Mongard was tabled at the Vision 20/20 May general meeting. GSC General Manager Max Eastcott attended, and gave an outline on the progress of the project.

The consensus of the meeting was that the design has a "gentle Wow factor", very exciting in design, but gentle on the environment.

The design incorporates earthworks, water harvesting features, amenities, erosion control and plantings, without greatly intruding on the existing landscape.

Access to the river, the open parkland appearance and the continued recognition of the Gwydir River Trail Rides facility and the grazing horses, have been maintained.

Subtly infused into the landscape have been water features, including a pond, banks and swales, to slow and direct storm-waters, and plantings of shrubs, grasses and some trees, which will complement shaded rest areas, paths, picnic and barbecue areas, and a "hidden from view" composting toilet block.

Included in the plan has been a walking path circuit, a Sister City Memorial Plaque marking Bingara’s association with Willoughby City, an Information Signage Shelter, Picnic Shelter with Bird Watching "blind", and off-road parking for about 25 vehicles.

The final plan from John Mongard Landscape Architects will be available soon and will go on public exhibition for a month. The estimated total cost of the project is about $200,000. Vision 20/20 has already gained a $5,000 initial grant from the CMA for fencing and plantings, and further grants from State and Federal Government, are being sought by V2020 and GSC.

"This is a project worthy of this beautiful riverfront asset," said Max Eastcott.  "It is a long term investment that will become both an attraction in Bingara and a wonderful amenity for the Gwydir community and its visitors".

"With the Warialda community already leading the way with their Reedy Creek beautification project, it is very exciting to see the Bingara Riverscape Project nearing a stage when our community can participate in its construction, and then proudly present it as a feature marking our heritage, and enhancing our future," concluded V2020 President, Rick Hutton.