The Maribyrnong River as it flows past the Melbourne suburb of Essendon West
|Name origin: Woiwurrung|
|- left||Deep Creek|
|- right||Jackson Creek|
|- location||Great Dividing Range, Victoria|
|- elevation||1,000 m (3,281 ft)|
|- location||Melbourne, Australia|
|Basin||1,450 km2 (559.8 sq mi) 1|
|Wikimedia Commons: Maribyrnong River|
The inner western and north-western suburbs of Melbourne are located in the vicinity of the Maribyrnong River and the river has given its name to the suburb of Maribyrnong and the local government area, the City of Maribyrnong.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Course
- 5 Recreational use
- 6 Crossings
- 7 Flora and fauna
- 8 Environmental Issues
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The river was initially named Saltwater River2 by early settlers, due to the tidal nature of its lower reaches. The name Maribyrnong however, is derived from either mirring-gnay-bir-nong which in Woiwurrung, the language of the local Wurundjeri people, is said to mean "I can hear a ringtail possum"2 or "saltwater river"3 (Gunung or Gunnung is Woiwurrung for river,4 as seen in the names of other watercourses in the area, such as; Koonung Creek and Birrarung).
Marriburnong is an alternate spelling listed on a map dated from 1840.3
The Maribyrnong River valley has been home for the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation for up to 40,000 years. Human remains dated at least 15,000 years old have been found along the river, with much older signs of human habitation also present.
The first Europeans to explore along the river were the party led by Charles Grimes, Deputy Surveyor-General of New South Wales, in February 1803. John Batman is likely to have explored up the river in early 1835. With the establishment of the colony of Melbourne later that year, sheep runs were soon established by Edmund Davis Fergusson and Michael Solomon in the Avondale and Sunshine areas. On Solomon's sheep station the ford now near the west end of Canning Street in Avondale Heights soon became known as Solomon's Ford. This was the lowest crossing on the Saltwater (Maribyrnong) River, and the furthest inland point of tidal influence. Batman is believed to have crossed the river at this point probably in the well worn steps of Aboriginals. It was for many years the only way from Melbourne to Geelong and land west.
During the second half of the nineteenth century much of Melbourne's industry was located along the river, and the water became very degraded. With the closure of many industries since the 1960s and 1970s, much river front land has opened up to parkland and highly sought after residential estates.
The geographic features and tributaries of the river are listed below, tributaries in bold:5
The Yarra river is a tributary of the Maribyrnong River
- Yarraville Wharves
- Maribyrnong Berth
- Newells Paddock Wetlands
- Burndap Lakes
- Jacks Canal
- Frogs Hollow Wetland
- Steele or Rose Creek
- Grimes Flat
- Kulin Wetlands
- Taylors Creek
- Horseshoe Bend
- Gumms Corner
- Unnamed Creek
- Jackson Creek / Deep Creek
The head of the Maribyrnong catchment is situated in the Macedon Ranges region of central Victoria around 60 km NW of Melbourne. Various creeks beginning in the southern Mount Macedon area flow into Riddells Creek which in turn flows into Jackson Creek. Jackson Creek starts its journey NW of Gisborne, 50 km north of Melbourne. The other major tributary of the Maribyrnong is Deep Creek, which also has its headwaters in the northern and eastern parts of the Macedon Ranges. The creek has cut a deep valley through the surrounding basalt plains in its southward course, in particular as it flows through localities such as Konagaderra and Bulla.
To the west of Melbourne Airport the tributaries of Jackson Creek and Deep Creek conjoin to form the Maribyrnong River. The Organ Pipes National Park can be found on Jacksons Creek, near the Calder Freeway: a pleasant picnic site, and a prominent display of basaltic columns a geological formation so named because they look like organ pipes.
The river flows south and west. At Keilor the river winds back on itself in a giant horsehoe bend, before winding south again at Brimbank Park. Here the river flows fifty five metres below the western plains. Horseshoe Bend Farm is a small scale farm open to schools, kindergartens, playgroups and the general public.
Brimbank Park forms a huge amphitheatre in the bend in the river with picnic areas, cycle and walking trails, and a cafe, which reverberate with activity on weekends and public holidays. The area is rich in birdlife and native fauna.
The Maribyrnong River Trail shared path starts at Brimbank Park, following mostly beside the river to near its conjunction with the Yarra River in Footscray. At Avondale Heights and Essendon West residents have a spectacular view over the river valley to the skyscrapers of the Melbourne CBD.
The river flows past Pipemakers Park at Maribyrnong and Melbourne's Living Museum of the West which presents information on the history of the river and the early industrial history of the site. Dolphins are sometimes sighted in the lower reaches of the river, along with many water birds, especially at Burndap Park.
Footscray Park opposite the Flemington Racecourse is only metres down river from Pipemakers Park and Burndap Park, the river then meanders across the floodplain to its juncture with the Yarra River at Yarraville.
|Maribyrnong River at Footscray looking towards the CBD|
|Maribyrnong River Bike Path|
As the second major river in metropolitan Melbourne, the Maribyrnong plays a very important part in Melbourne's recreation. Boating, cycling along its bike paths such as the Maribyrnong River Trail, fishing, and walking. Light bushwalking can also be done and nature watchers can observe Australian native fauna such as echidna, wallabies as well as the ubiquitous possums and flying foxes.
Road and rail bridges and other crossing points along the Maribyrnong River include:6
- Shepherd Bridge - primary arterial road
- South Kensington-West Footscray railway
- Hopetoun Bridge - primary arterial road
- Suburban railway to Footscray
- Former stock bridge - relocated from Punt Road, South Yarra
- Lynchs Bridge - primary arterial road
- Farnsworth Avenue Bridge - secondary arterial road
- Pipemakers Park Footbridge
- Maribyrnong Road Bridge - primary arterial road
- Afton Street Footbridge - pedestrian
- Canning Street Bridge (1970) - primary arterial road
- Medway Golf Club Footbridge
- Solomons Ford - historic crossing point
- Maribyrnong River Viaduct, on the Albion-Jacana railway
- E.J. Whitten Bridge - Western Ring Road
- Old Calder Highway Bridge - primary arterial road
- Historic Calder Bridge (1868)
- Calder Freeway Bridge
- Flora Street Bridge - local road and private access
- Historic Arundel Road Bridge - (built 1906-7, closed to vehicles 1989, closed to pedestrians 2007)7
- Arundel Road Bridge (1989) - local road
Many native species exist along the Maribyrnong River with many species thriving in the area.Parks Victoria (January 2008). "Maribyrnong Valley Parklands".
Eastern Whipbird, Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Galah, Brown Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Square-tailed Kite, Royal Spoonbill, Black Swan, Pacific Black Duck, Little Pied Cormorant, Moorhen, Long-billed Corella
- Short-finned Eel, Tupong, Short-headed Lamprey, Australian Grayling, Common Galaxias, Broad-finned galaxies and Spotted galaxias, Southern black bream etc.
The Maribyrnong faces various environmental issues, apart from introduced pest species, also pollution and contamination - arsenic and heavy metals from industry and litter including one trap to mitigate litter entering the river from stormwater89
- Maribyrnong River Trail
- Afton Street Conservation Reserve
- Kororoit Creek another major watercourse in Melbourne's west.
- Deep Creek (Victoria)
- Jacksons Creek (Victoria)
- Department of Primary Industries, Maribyrnong River Basin 30, retrieved 17 June 2010dead link
- Parks Victoria, Maribyrnong River Visitors Guide, retrieved 20 June 2010
- "Australian Places:Maribyrnong, Victoria". Monash University. 17 March 2006.
- "About The Wurundjeri People". Yarra Healing. 17 March 2006.
- Melway, Edition 35, 2008
- Melway Edition 36, 2009
- Australian Heritage Database, Trestle Bridge, Arundel Rd, Keilor, VIC, Australia, retrieved 16 November 2010
- "Tracing a toxic river to its source". The Age (Melbourne). 24 August 2005.
- "Arsenic leaked into river". The Age (Melbourne). 22 August 2005.
-  Parks Victoria Brimbank Park page Sept 2007
-  Maribyrnong River Parks Victoria page Sept 2007
-  Maribyrnong Valley Parklands - See Parknotes