Yarra River

As with many great cities, they are settled on a river and Melbourne is no exception.

Way back in 1835, John Batman rowed up the Yarra River and proclaimed this was a place for a village.  If it had of been 2014, he would have said this was a place for a city.

The Yarra River is a curious river in that it is rarely described as being beautiful as many rivers are, and yet its name to the original Wurundjeri people was “birrarung” – ‘river of mists and shadows’.

The first European eyes to view the river was Charles Grimes, Acting Surveyor General of New South Wales during his exploration in 1803.  He named it ‘Freshwater River’.

The name ‘Yarra’ is attributed to surveyor John Wedge, who in the ‘Rebecca’ accompanied John Batman on the 1835 party of exploration on behalf of the Launceston-based Port Phillip Association. Wedge asked local aborigines what they called the cascading waters on the lower section of the river.  They replied ‘Yarro Yarro’, meaning ‘it flows’. Wedge’s mishearing of the word determined its enduring name.

Our collection of images reflects a constantly changing landscape that aligns its banks from the mountains in central Victoria to its mouth near the Maribynong River into Port Phillip Bay.

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