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Once upon a dreamtime





once upon

a dreamtime...

Many, many years ago

the mighty Moorabool waters


Blog #1

Our original indigenous people

Whereas Geelong was 'first established' by Europeans between 1836 -1838,

the Wathaurung were the original indigenous inhabitants having lived in the locality for at least the last 25,000 year. The Wathaurong originally called the bay “Jillong” (a place of the sea bird over the white cliffs) and the surrounding land “Corayo”. The Wathaurong have left Geelong a lasting legacy with many place names being anglicized versions of Wathaurong words; Moorabool, Gheringhap, Malop, Moolap, Corio, Geelong, Barwon, You Yangs, Bellarine...

As a result of declining food sources (due to the introduction of sheep and cattle) and a severe influenza epidemic in 1839, the Wathaurong population began to decline rapidly until by 1853 they numbered less than forty; as compared with seventeen years earlier when 300 lived permanently around Geelong.

Sources:Yarra Healing, In Town, Wikipedia

Batman Geelong Treaty

John Batman, 6 June, 1835.

John Batman recorded in his journal that he had signed a treaty with the local Aboriginal people, the Wurundjeri to buy 2,000 km of land around Melbourne and another 400 km around Geelong.

See: Wikipedia

And, the flip-side

Culturally sensitive material

Photos by Fred Kruger


"Another fascinating insight was provided by Jennifer Dearnaley, a PhD student of plants traditionally used by the Wadawurrung people with reference to Lou Lane's investigations. Jennifer explained that the Wadawurrung name for the Barrabool Hills is barro:aabil which literally translated means ‘the place of the rounded hills’.

In an email she explained that their name for the hills describes its morphology which could only be appreciated if the hills had been relatively de-nuded with a low density of trees and shrubs..."

From Recreating the Country

Australian Aboriginal Anthem

I am a child of the Dreamtime People
Part of this land, like a gnarled gum tree
I am the river softly singing
Chanting our songs on my way to the sea
My spirit is the dust-devils
Mirages that dance on the plain
I'm the snow, the wind and the falling rain
I'm part of the rocks and the red desert earth
Red as the blood that flows in my veins
I am eagle, crow and snake that glides
Through the rainforest that clings to the mountainside
I awakened here when the earth was new
There was emu, wombat, kangaroo
No other man of different hue
I am this land
And this land is me
I am Australian.

Written by Hollis Maris (1934 to 1986)


Jo Mitchell in her Barwon Blog reminds us the earliest residents of the Fyansford region were of course First Nation Peoples, the Wathaurong,   who at various times of the year, used the rocky bed of the ana-branch between the Barwon and the Moorabool Rivers as an eel trap.

The Wathaurong name for the area at the confluence of the two rivers    was Bukar Bulac meaning "the place between two rivers". 

Exciting times ahead...


It has been proposed that an extensive Indigenous Cultural Heritage Trail be established around the Geelong area; one that will create an awareness of the region’s rich Aboriginal history in that it will provide the Geelong community, school groups and visitors to the area  an educative, interpretive and historic account of significant features, artefacts, sites, stories and moments in time of the local Wathaurong (Wada Wurrung) people. It has been suggested that the trail will consist of 15‐20 interpretive signs, information boards, art work or sculpture, across the geographic Region of Geelong (one being at Buckley's Falls)...


Geelong Aboriginal Group Information Sites:


For a more contemporary and authorative picture of the Wathaurong,       I recommend you visit the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre,

410 Surf Coast Hwy, Grovedale , Victoria 3217 

“Narana” means Listening and Learning, but it’s a deep, deep listening in which you take in and live out. It is this concept of “Listening and Learning For Life” which underpins Narana’s mission to be a destination for cultural education and tourism activities which promote greater understanding of Aboriginal Culture and history.

with a thriving local community

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Blog #2

once upon

a dreamtime...

Many, many years ago

the mighty Moorabool waters



carrying truly fresh water from top to tail


unfortunately, the situation is quite a little different.

Moorabool River Pic.jpg

Section "Moorabool River" web-page

Section Moorabool River Page.jpg

My Go-To Site for current information on the Moorabool River












A site run by People for A Living Moorabool


People for A Living Moorabool (PALM) formed during April 2008 in response to the dire condition of the Moorabool River. The PALM Charter reads:

“Our group unites those who want to keep the full length of the Moorabool River alive. This one idea of a ‘living Moorabool’ is our guiding principle. It means that our commitment to be a voice for the river will override any support for the rights of particular water users. We have a single focus - the right of this magnificent, but highly stressed river, to an effective environmental flow. We are motivated by the politics of unity not division.”

Our members and supporters are from communities along the whole length of the Moorabool catchment and beyond. They are urban and rural dwellers, and include 3rd generation farmers, scientists, artists and Waterwatch volunteers.

I commend their Interactive Map to interested parties.

And, their Blog which reflects up-to-date commentary.

Moorabool River blog.jpg

A recent "Moorabool River" blog post

The 2017 submission by People for A Living Moorabool to

Victorian Parliament's Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Committee Inquiry into the Management, Governance and Use of Environmental Water  summarised concerns regarding the river's wellbeing.

Journey of the Moorabool River

Words and Images By Alison Pouliot

Great interactive map.jpg

Screen-capture "Moorabool River" map

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once upon

a dreamtime...

Blog #3


ongoing efforts to maintain what we have are crucial.

“From the headwaters down to where it joins with the Barwon River, the Moorabool River tells us if Country is well. Look to the sky, look for Bunjil, where the eagles fly we know the river is healthy.”

Bryon Powell Wadawurrung Traditional Owner


We thank the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority

for their ongoing efforts to improve the plight of our Moorabool River.

Facebook CCMA.jpg


Discover the Living Moorabool

is a great site to explore.

Discover the Living Moorabool.jpg


Map Locations 

to find out more about a particular location

e.g. The Dog Rocks

Flora & Fauna.jpg
Slate Quarry Road.jpg
Dog Rocks.jpg

I love the Gallery  page.

It relates directly to map locations, e.g. The Dog Rocks


A PDF brochure worth having a look at:

Indigenous Wildlife of the Moorabool River Catchment

Moorabool Fauna.jpg

If you are interested in native flora and how the Barrabool Hills landscape

has fared over the years, you must visit

"Recreating the Country" by Stephen Murphy. He also maintains a great blog.

Also, some might appreciate this PDF brochure:

Indigenous plants of the Geelong Region - BARWON & MOORABOOL VALLEYS

Indigenous plants.jpg
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Corangamite Catchment Management Authori

The Moorabool River is on the traditional lands of the Wadawurrung people who have had an ongoing connection with the river for thousands of years. Moorabool means ‘monster’ in the language of the Wadawurrung. It’s the local name of the Stone Curlew, a bird who lives by the river. Of a night time the Stone Curlew is renowned for its eerie high pitched wailing. The parents in the Wadawurrung communities would use the Stone Curlew’s frightening call to warn their children away from the river, “Moorabool, Moorabool (Monster Monster)” they would tell the children to make sure they didn’t stray close to the dangers of the river in the dark.

Many, many years ago

the mighty Moorabool waters



with flora & fauna aplenty

once upon

a dreamtime...

Many, many years ago

the mighty Moorabool waters


Blog #4


and flowed a different route

Prior to the limestone quarry near Batesford beginning operation          Ca 1890, while the river banks had suffered extensive erosion damage, I can imagine that native flora and fauna thrived with platypus, fish and an abundance of other wildlife being found in the river and its environs. Over the century-long period during which the quarry functioned, there were attempts by authorities to alter both the course and flow of the river via the installation of concrete weirs and lengthy channels. While these may have been installed with the best of intentions, the works have subsequently been subject to degradation, wear and neglect. This and the growing impact of water diversion for irrigation and other purposes has many consequences. My intention is to present a basic overview of man-made changes to the lower river course. I am reasonably confident that in time we may achieve a modicum of success in returning the river to that condition which existed when it was entrusted to First Nation Peoples, the Wathaurong.

A somewhat depressing gallery



For more photos from my Andreas Makarewitsch collection see …

AM 2.jpg


For more photos from my Ran Grant collection see …

Ron Grant 1.jpg


For more photos from my Jo Mitchell collection see …

Jo Mitchell1c.jpg

Click image to access video

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Every dam built on a river effects that river's water flow with a consequential multi-environment impact. The lower section of the Moorabool River between She Oaks and Batesford has nine private diversion weirs acting as significant barriers to fish. These barriers have increased the extent of slow-flowing habitat, reduced habitat diversity and impacted on flora and fauna in and around the river.

Cameron Steele, People for A Living Moorabool (PALM) co-ordinator, in 2016, warned  the Moorabool River was possibly the most "flow-stressed river in the state".

This was re-stated recently in Moorabool River Seasonal Watering Proposal 2018-19.


In an earlier blog “Mapping fast-fading memories” I challenged myself to map

Jo Mitchell's kayak journey down the Moorabool. This blog has relevance because in it

I focussed on the re-routed river flowing along lengthy man-made concrete channels.


It seems from available photographic evidence that there were at least two major      man-made modifications to the Moorabool's water course ~ pre-1950 and Ca 1980.

Jo Mitchell's 2015 blog details the present situation; one of ongoing degradation. We can only hope that quarry regeneration plans and the work of both the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and the People for A Living Moorabool (PALM) will impact positively on the future health of our river. 

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once upon

a dreamtime...

Many, many years ago

the mighty Moorabool waters


Blog #5


shaping the world for us to enjoy today

A broad rich & fertile river valley

 For more photographs ~ Lower Moorabool valley

as viewed from Moorabool Valley Chocolate, Batesford  (JFimages , 2017)

 For more photographs ~ Lower Moorabool valley

as viewed from Ted Wilson Bike path  (JFimages , 2015)

1972 panoramic view of Moorabool escarpment ...

Original 1972 panoramic view of Moorabool escarpment by Andreas Makarewitsch

Former drive-in on Ballarat Road is visible

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Blog #6


Many, many years ago

the mighty Moorabool waters


once upon

a dreamtime...

with riches in and beneath the soil

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© J. Flatt


Click image to see detail


There was once rich black alluvial soil on the lower Moorabool flats. This has since been replaced by developers with 300mm or so of topsoil, (aka crap in my humble opinion), brought in from elsewhere as a consequence of removing soil contaminated by years of industrial usage. Elsewhere upstream the valley is still lush, furtile, verdant...

alluvial soil.jpg
Moorabool Valley J222.jpg

Beneath the surface

Quarry 1.jpg

There is one stone quarry that has had a major impact on the Moorabool River valley; the limestone quarry SE of Batesford. Though the life of the quarry may be nearing its end, the ramifications from the concrete works undertaken and the re-routing of the river will be felt for quite some time. It is interesting to see how the other quarries throughout the district are changing.

Over the years since white settlement began we have benefitted from the natural resources found in the Moorabool valley.

Click image to open

bounty 5.jpg

This will make the gardeners in our midst green with envy.

Unfortunately, floods also took their toll...

1880 Flood.jpg

On the surface

Blog #7


Many, many years ago

the mighty Moorabool waters


once upon

a dreamtime...

whether dry or in flood the Moorabool provides pockets of pleasure

Tucked away

along the lower reaches

are pools

that only a few know of...

Annotation 2019-10-20 105423.jpg
SWimming hole.jpg

It is possible

to kayak from

Batesford to Fyansford.

Though I know of only one party that did...









I camped by the Moorabool in the Dog Rocks area          back in my dreamtime i.e. sixty-odd years ago



I can't help but wonder if anyone has walked the

    lower Moorabool (from Batesford to Fyansford)?


There would be many a fisherman in our midst    

who has whiled away hours by the Moorabool.

There would be those who study or photograph     

the moods of the Moorabool.

taste trail.jpg
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