Cleaning Ballarat’s streets | ourballarat winter 2023

Unless you are up early in the morning, you may not know about or see the work of the City of Ballarat Street Cleaning team. However, as Supervisor Street Cleaning David James says, you would certainly notice if this dedicated team were not out and about before sunrise keeping the city streets clean.

street cleaning crew

Just after 3am each weekday morning, the first five members of the Street Cleaning team start their day. They are the street and footpath sweeping operators. With highly specialised vehicles and equipment, including four road sweepers and two footpath sweepers, the team performs a mix of scheduled and reactive cleaning to ensure Ballarat’s streets are clean and ready for a new day. The central business district (CBD) and other high-traffic areas are swept daily to ensure Ballarat’s streets and footpaths are clean before other road users and pedestrians start their day.

Later, at 4.40am, the four-person street litter team and the two-person loose litter team begin their workday. Between them, the street litter team operate two small garbage trucks that service Ballarat’s street litter bins. Street litter trucks operate seven days a week during daylight savings and six days a week for the remainder of the year. They ensure Ballarat’s bins are emptied and available for use year-round, including bins found on streets, in parks, and within sporting and recreation reserves.

The loose litter team starts their day clearing leaf debris and litter from the Bridge and Phoenix malls. The rest of their day is largely reactive work, responding to calls from residents who have come across dumped rubbish or other items that need clearing. They also walk through Ballarat’s many parks collecting loose litter and ensuring these spaces are safe and clean. The other members of the 23-person Street Cleaning team perform a range of tasks throughout the day, including cleaning our heritage bluestone gutters, sucking up dirt and gravel with vacuum trucks, weed spraying, collecting autumn leaves and pressure washing the pavement in the CBD.

Little-known but vital

While the City of Ballarat Street Cleaning team do an enormous amount of work to keep Ballarat’s many roads and streets clear of debris and rubbish, Supervisor Street Cleaning David James says the team often perform tasks that may surprise some people.

“We support a lot of events. Think of how many bins are needed for the Road National Championships, along with sweeping the course itself before each day’s competition,” he says.

“We started preparing for the Road National Championships at Buninyong three weeks before Christmas, making sure that Buninyong and the course looked great, but also our CBD and city entrances.”

The Street Cleaning team are also sometimes called in during emergency situations.

“If there’s been a car accident and there is glass on the road, we’ll get called in to clean it up,” David says.

“Along with glass and debris, road accidents often result in an oil spill which are usually treated with coconut powder to absorb the oil, which we then clean and clear with one of our road sweepers.” 

Expanding the team as Ballarat grows

Ballarat growth in recent years, along with projected growth into the future, has led to change within the Street Cleaning team.

Sweeper Operator Trevor Greenwood has been with the City of Ballarat for 37 years. When he first started in the Street Cleaning team, he used to clean the streets of Ballarat’s suburbs by himself.

Now, Ballarat’s suburbs are split into three areas, with one truck servicing each area.

However, it’s not just the size of the area that is changing things for the Street Cleaning team.

“A few years ago, you wouldn’t have people out at 6am,” David says.

“We used to start our work at 4am, but with so many residents out early in the morning, we’ve had to bring our start time forward.”

Despite being a very busy team, with staff working seven days a week to keep Ballarat’s streets clean, Trevor is not the only team member who has been with the team a long time.

“A number of our team have been here for 10 years or more, and we have more than 150 years of collective experience within the

team,” David says.

“We are very lucky to have such experience and dedication within our team.”

Did you know the way the Street Cleaning team collects autumn leaves has changed?

Residents are asked to bag their leaves or arrange them in a pile prior to calling the City of Ballarat for collection. Residents who do this will be prioritised in the leaf collection queue.

Over half of Ballarat's street trees are deciduous, which means they drop their leaves every year.

The collection of leaves is a big task during autumn and winter.

The Street Cleaning team collect leaves on a street by street basis as well as responding to individual enquires.

City of Ballarat Council Plan Alignment

The projects, initiatives, and ideas in this article align with the following goals of the City of Ballarat Council Plan 2021-2025:

Goal 4 
A city that conserves and enhances our natural and built assets