‘A temperate Kakadu’: learn Melbourne’s water story

A person standing in a city location at dusk.

Pause on the banks of our city’s beautiful waterways as the weather warms up, and reflect on the history of the diverse natural environment on which Melbourne was built.

Vast wetlands described as a ‘temperate Kakadu’ and home to numerous plant and animal species once dominated the area between Docklands and the Maribyrnong River.

Other areas of the municipality were characterised by low-lying sand dunes, swamps and higher grasslands and woodlands.

Author David Sornig developed a deep understanding of this historical landscape – and the ways it was forever changed – while writing his book, Blue Lake.

‘Personally, I had very little sense of the historical realities of the wetland: its huge saltwater lagoon, the original meandering course of the Yarra River, and the later shanty town,’ David said.

‘It’s a fact that we now think of as lamentable, but this regret might point to positive changes in the way we understand the relationship between water and land  and where we belong between them.’

During a Melbourne Knowledge Week event, David was part of panel that discussed sea level rise, flooding and the future possibilities of Melbourne’s water story.

‘My vision for the future of Greater Melbourne and its relationship to water begins with the principle that development should help foster careful human relationships in communities,’ David said.

‘This relies on recognising that our obligations toward one another are rooted in part in the maintenance of healthy waterways and their ecosystems not only for their utility but for their intrinsic value.’

Our resilience to climate change risks, including drought, heatwaves, flooding and sea level rise, relies on our city’s integrated water management solutions.

For more information, visit Urban Water.

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