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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Australiana #22: The 10,000-year-old legend of the Yarra River

The Yarra flows through Melbourne in Victoria and its valley is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. According to the aboriginal tribe, Wurundjeri, the story of the formation of this river goes like this:

The 'great water', Moorool, was locked in by the mountains. Barwool, the Wurundjeri Elder, decided to release the great water so he cut a channel up the valley using his stone axe. But he was stopped by Baw Baw. He headed north and was again stopped by Donna Buang and his brothers.

Barwool turned westwards and cut through the hills to Warr-an-dyte where he met Yan-yan, another Wurundjeri man. Yan-yan was cutting a channel with his stone axe to free Morang, the 'great water' from his country.

The Yarra in Melbourne

The two men joined forces and the waters of Moorool and Morang became Moo-rool-bark - the place where the wide waters meet. They continued cutting a path for the waters of Moorool and Morang and so the Yarra River was formed.

Using many axes now they cut a narrow twisting track looking for softer ground until they reached a place where the waters rushed out, creating Port Phillip Bay.

Archaelogists suggest this story is as old as the end of the last ice age,  ten thousand years ago, when the seas rose and flooded this bay - an event so catastrophic that its memory has been passed unbroken through countless generations.

Reference: The Comfort of Water - A River Pilgrimage by Maya Ward

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