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Yarra River: Push to rename Melbourne waterway

The Yarra River could be renamed Birrarung as part of a bold new plan to revitalise the waterway.

The Yarra River Business Association, a forum of leaders in government and business, has floated the name change to honour the river’s indigenous history.

Birrarung is the Wurundjeri name for the waterway, but Yarra is also an indigenous word meaning ‘waterfall’ or ‘ever flowing’. The river is believed to have got its current name after an Englishman mistakenly believed Yarra Yarra was its Aboriginal name.

Melbourne Councillor and chair of the Aboriginal City portfolio, Nicolas Frances Gilley, said he hasn’t heard of an active Aboriginal-led campaign to change the name, but recognising Melbourne’s indigenous history is important.

“We have this extraordinary history on this river,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“It’s the heart of the Kulin nation … it was the meeting place, it was where the salt water people met the fresh water people, at the waterfalls down there in the middle of the city.

“Being able to know that history is an important part of our culture.”

A world-class promenade, a floating swimming pool, and a garden on the Sandridge Bridge, have also been proposed for the river.

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