Long history of a short river: A tour of the Maribyrnong

The Maribyrnong is a short river, only 50 km from tip to toe, but it has a long history.

The Maribyrnong river valley in Melbourne has been home to the Marin Balug people of the Kulin nation for some 40,000 years and bears many signs of their presence.

It was also a major channel for the European occupation of Port Phillip, first as a pathway to the Western District for sheep-owners and their stock, then as a source of bluestone and sand for the growing city and a dumping ground for its noxious wastes.

Jenny Lee’s walking tour starts above the bend in the river that is the site of the now-defunct Commonwealth Explosives Factory, and takes in sites of Indigenous settlement, industry around the river and the current McMansion invasion.

The tour goes for 27 minutes and has nine stops.

Your tour guide Jenny Lee

Jenny Lee became an editor by accident in 1982, when she began working on a multi-author critical history of Australia (A Peoples History of Australia, 4 vols, 1988). She edited the literary and cultural quarterly Meanjin from 1987 to 1994. Jenny has been co-ordinator of the postgraduate Publishing and Communications program in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne since 2003. She is deputy chair of the OL Society, which publishes Overland literary journal.

Her book Making Modern Melbourne was launched at the 2008 Melbourne Writers Festival and was a Top 10 bestseller on the first weekend of the festival. Making Modern Melbourne charts the city’s story from illegal village to modern metropolis.


This tour is recorded and edited by Jane Curtis, produced by Community Radio 3CR, and funded by the Office of Public Records Local History grant program.

2009 Melbourne Fringe Festival event

We were proud to be part of Melbourne Fringe Festival.

See photos on Flickr of the Fringe Festival walking tour on Sunday 4 October 2009.