How has water shaped Melbourne?
CHOOSE A MINIMUM OF 2 RESOURCES
We shouldn't be surprised that Melbourne's inner west floods. It's always been a swamp
The 8 square kilometre zone to the immediate west of Melbourne’s CBD is today dominated by its industrial, transport and urban uses: from the Docklands redevelopment through to the Bolte Bridge, Appleton and Swanson Dock, the network of freight rail yards and the recently-vacated wholesale markets.
But for thousands of years the area was part of a fertile wetland whose most striking features were the meandering north-west course of the Yarra River and a large blue saltwater lagoon.
Read about it in this ABC article We shouldn't be surprised that Melbourne's inner west floods. It's always been a swamp and in the State Library of Victoria article The erasure of Melbourne's wetlands.
Traditional Owners have rarely been consulted about how water is managed and used since colonisation. We are now working in partnership with Victoria’s Traditional Owners to involve them in decisions around water management. Read about The Aboriginal Water Program.
Melbourne was built on a swamp and city planners took drastic steps to stop it flooding every few years. (2023, January 7). ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-07/melbourne-was-built-on-a-swamp-flood-history/101610910
The erasure of Melbourne's wetlands. (2016, August 29). State Library Victoria - Blogs. https://blogs.slv.vic.gov.au/such-was-life/the-erasure-of-melbournes-wetlands/
Victoria State Government. (2022, November 4). The Aboriginal water program. Energy, Environment and Climate Action: Water and catchments. https://www.water.vic.gov.au/aboriginal-values/the-aboriginal-water-program
Water is one of the necessary conditions for all forms of life; it is important to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike for environmental, economic and cultural purposes.
Water has significant social and spiritual meanings to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who have adapted to live on the driest inhabited continent on Earth for over 65,000 years.
Water has an important place in art, sacred narratives, stories and song series in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. These social and cultural links to water places in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cosmologies vary significantly depending on climatic zones, bio-regions, elevation and also have cultural significance ranging from the mundane or every day to highly sacred and restricted access. Aboriginal and Torres, aquaculture with weirs, dams and channels, and hunting and fishing tools, such as hooks, harpoons and spears.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people established a complex knowledge base that enabled their survival on one of the driest continents. This in-depth understanding of the hydrology and hydrogeology in each country, and also regionally, allowed people to find and re-find water in the landscape. This may have involved finding deep pools or billabongs when the rivers were not flowing, or protecting rock holes from animals by creating purpose-built lids. Rules and laws were made to protect the quality of water, particularly in cases where the water was for human consumption. For example, one way to protect the potable water is to only drink from the bottom pool, not the top pool, to avoid contaminating both water sources.
Read the rest here.
University of Melbourne. (2021, September 6). Water. Indigenous Knowledge Institute. https://indigenousknowledge.unimelb.edu.au/curriculum/themes/water
How is the Victorian Water Sector planning for a changing climate?
Did you know water shortages could emerge in Melbourne this decade as less rainfall flows into rivers and dams? (Victoria's Infrastructure Strategy 2021-51).
Victoria’s infrastructure strategy 2021-2051 makes several recommendations to improve how water is managed over the coming decades.
- considering all water sources for supply augmentation, including identifying and addressing barriers to use of purified recycled drinking water within the next 10 years
- modernising and upgrading Victoria’s agricultural irrigation infrastructure and emergency water network and
- improving decision making for urban water investment and supply planning.
Infrastructure Victoria. (2022, September 28). Drought, fire and floods. How is the Victorian water sector planning for a changing climate? https://www.infrastructurevictoria.com.au/2022/09/28/drought-fire-and-floods-how-is-the-victorian-water-sector-planning-for-a-changing-climate/
Floods in Victoria are uncommon. Here’s why they’re happening now – and how they compare to the past.
Cook, M. (2022, October 13). Floods in Victoria are uncommon. Here’s why they’re happening now – and how they compare to the past. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/floods-in-victoria-are-uncommon-heres-why-theyre-happening-now-and-how-they-compare-to-the-past-192391
Access rainfall, river level and flow data from over 200 monitoring sites across Melbourne
Published by Melbourne Water.
Start by searching or selecting a location on the interactive map for rainfall, river level and flow or catchments.
Melbourne Water. (n.d.). Rainfall and river level data. https://www.melbournewater.com.au/water-data-and-education/rainfall-and-river-levels#/
What is the role of water in Australia’s uncertain future?
If you live in an Australian city, there’s a good chance that your water comes from surface water such as streams, rivers and reservoirs filled by rainfall and runoff.
Amgad Elmahdi. (2015, August 2). The role of water in Australia’s uncertain future. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/the-role-of-water-in-australias-uncertain-future-45366
The day Melbourne went underwater
State Library Victoria. (2020). From the vault: Melbourne underwater – astonishing photos of the “Great Flood” of 1891 [YouTube Video]. In YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfVtqX_KyE4&ab_channel=StateLibraryVictoria
Out-of-date flood maps mean homes built on flood plains (The Age newspaper, October 18 2022)
Planners warn out-of-date flood maps and a lack of statewide co-ordination mean Victoria is not adequately prepared for flooding, with new homes being built in potentially dangerous locations such as flood plains. Victoria’s peak body for town planners said there was no framework for updating flood mapping and the available information on riverine and coastal inundation was patchy and outdated.
Waters, C. (2022, October 17). Out-of-date flood maps mean homes built on flood plains. The Age. https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/out-of-date-flood-maps-mean-homes-built-on-flood-plains-20221017-p5bqbl.html
Stories in the time of climate change.
A teacher was walking along the banks of the Maribyrnong River in Melbourne’s western suburbs and came up with an idea. He began his morning class with a simple prompt: “Tell me about your river.”
Birch, T. (2018, April 26). Friday essay: recovering a narrative of place - stories in the time of climate change. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-recovering-a-narrative-of-place-stories-in-the-time-of-climate-change-95067
What is involved in maintaining clean waterways?
Published by The City of Melbourne, 2022
Responsibility of keeping Melbourne’s waterways clean is shared with several organisations including Melbourne Water, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Environmental Protection Agency, Parks Victoria, marina lease holders and various others.
Find out more about:
- Yarra River litter infographic
- Litter traps
- Docklands litter management
- Yarra River water quality
- Aquatic pests
Clean waterways - City of Melbourne. (2022). Vic.gov.au. https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/community/boating-waterways/Pages/clean-waterways.aspx
Over the past 130 years Melbourne Water has played a significant role in the development of our city.
View key moments in our organisation’s history by looking at a 130 year timeline of water developments in Melbourne.
Timeline of our history. (2012). Timeline of our history | Melbourne Water. Melbournewater.com.au. https://www.melbournewater.com.au/water-data-and-education/water-facts-and-history/history-and-heritage/timeline-our-history
The Yarra Waterfall
The Yarra Waterfall used to stretch across the river where Queen Street is today. It was demolished in 1883.
Read about the land use here.
museumoflost. (2022, March 11). The Yarra Waterfall - The Museum of Lost Things. The Museum of Lost Things. https://www.museumoflost.com/the-yarra-waterfall/
The effect of storm, train passing through flood waters, South Yarra, Victoria, 25 January 1907
McGeehan, N. R. (1907). The effect of storm, train passing through flood waters, South Yarra, Victoria, 25 January 1907 Retrieved November 21, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-153094872
Yarra Yarra The Brown River (a narrative)
Sinclair, J. (2010). When we think about Melbourne (pp. 63–67). Affirm Publishing.
CHOOSE A DATA SET
Water, sewerage and drainage services in Melbourne, 1938 - 1958.
Carver, S. R. (Ed.). (1960). Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia (1960th ed., Vol. 46). Commonwealth Government Printing.
Melbourne Botanical Gardens rainfall
Monthly Rainfall - 086232 - Bureau of Meteorology. (2021). Bom.gov.au. http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=139&p_display_type=dataFile&p_startYear=&p_c=&p_stn_num=086232