Tuesday, 15 November 2011

a dog swims in the upside-down Yarra river

Last weekend Penny and I went to Yarra Bend park for a walk. At one end of the trail a sign welcomed us on behalf of the traditional owners of this land and I was reminded that Australia has a wealth of indigenous languages.

The Yarra, often referred to as 'the upside down river', was even more muddy brown than usual. However, this didn't mean it was dirty, so I let Penny swim.
The discovery of fresh water in the Yarra was crucial to the development of Melbourne. The river’s pristine upper reaches feed the city’s nine major reservoirs which supply most of Melbourne’s drinking water.

Further downstream however, the Yarra has long been dubbed "the river that runs upside down" because of its muddy colour. The water was clear at the time of European settlement but significant land clearing and development since the mid-1800s has resulted in suspended silt (or tiny clay particles) being carried downstream.

The muddy appearance does not mean that the Yarra is unclean. In fact, it is probably one of the cleanest capital city rivers in the world. Since the major clean-up campaigns of the late 1970s and 1980s, the river has again become home to platypus and a range of migratory native fish species. Platypus have been sighted in the Yarra River at Kew, less than 10 km from the city centre.

Penny stayed quite near the bank, which was good, because the river was running fast after the lovely rain we've had lately. I wouldn't have wanted her to be run over by the kayakers who were also enjoying the river.

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