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Yarra: A Diverting History Of Melbourne's Murky River

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It was John Wedge, Batman’s private surveyor, who named the Yarra Yarra. In September 1835 he was at the Turning Basin with some Kulin and heard them identify the river as it came over the Falls as, he wrote, ‘Yarrow Yarrow’. It was only some months later that Wedge discovered they had been referring to the pattern and movement of water over the Falls, not the river itself It was John Wedge, Batman’s private surveyor, who named the Yarra Yarra. In September 1835 he was at the Turning Basin with some Kulin and heard them identify the river as it came over the Falls as, he wrote, ‘Yarrow Yarrow’. It was only some months later that Wedge discovered they had been referring to the pattern and movement of water over the Falls, not the river itself. And ever since, it has been the Yarra’s fate to be misunderstood: maligned for its muddiness, ill-used as sewer and tip; scooped, sculpted, straightened and stressed, ‘cleaned up’ to the detriment of its natural inhabitants; built-over, under and beside; worked mercilessly and then bridged almost to maritime extinction. In Kristin Otto’s superbly entertaining new history, the whole sorry tale is laid bare. From the creation stories of Kulin owners and geologist blow-ins (and Robert Hoddle’s bad-tempered expedition to the headwaters) to the twenty-first-century waterside building boom, Otto traces the course of Melbourne’s murky river. Erudite, affectionate and witty, with more meanders and diversions than the river itself, Yarra is both a fascinating read and a fitting tribute to the ‘noble stream’


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It was John Wedge, Batman’s private surveyor, who named the Yarra Yarra. In September 1835 he was at the Turning Basin with some Kulin and heard them identify the river as it came over the Falls as, he wrote, ‘Yarrow Yarrow’. It was only some months later that Wedge discovered they had been referring to the pattern and movement of water over the Falls, not the river itself It was John Wedge, Batman’s private surveyor, who named the Yarra Yarra. In September 1835 he was at the Turning Basin with some Kulin and heard them identify the river as it came over the Falls as, he wrote, ‘Yarrow Yarrow’. It was only some months later that Wedge discovered they had been referring to the pattern and movement of water over the Falls, not the river itself. And ever since, it has been the Yarra’s fate to be misunderstood: maligned for its muddiness, ill-used as sewer and tip; scooped, sculpted, straightened and stressed, ‘cleaned up’ to the detriment of its natural inhabitants; built-over, under and beside; worked mercilessly and then bridged almost to maritime extinction. In Kristin Otto’s superbly entertaining new history, the whole sorry tale is laid bare. From the creation stories of Kulin owners and geologist blow-ins (and Robert Hoddle’s bad-tempered expedition to the headwaters) to the twenty-first-century waterside building boom, Otto traces the course of Melbourne’s murky river. Erudite, affectionate and witty, with more meanders and diversions than the river itself, Yarra is both a fascinating read and a fitting tribute to the ‘noble stream’

30 review for Yarra: A Diverting History Of Melbourne's Murky River

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    One of the treasures I bought from the NIB was Yarra, A Diverting History of Melbourne’s Murky River. (It’s still got its little yellow $32.95 sticker on the back!) It really is remiss of me not to have read it sooner because it’s such a delightful quirky book – and it (briefly) made me want to pack up a rucksack and go exploring along my city’s fascinating river banks. (I have actually done a bit of hiking around Dight’s Falls; have boated along the river as far as an 18-foot runabout will go; One of the treasures I bought from the NIB was Yarra, A Diverting History of Melbourne’s Murky River. (It’s still got its little yellow $32.95 sticker on the back!) It really is remiss of me not to have read it sooner because it’s such a delightful quirky book – and it (briefly) made me want to pack up a rucksack and go exploring along my city’s fascinating river banks. (I have actually done a bit of hiking around Dight’s Falls; have boated along the river as far as an 18-foot runabout will go; and The Spouse and I used to stroll along the river when we were courting because the backyard of his Hawthorn flat was the banks of the Yarra. But *sigh* all that was before I wrecked my ankle). Kristin Otto has pieced together a fascinating armchair ramble along this much-maligned river of ours. First of all, she explains why it’s brown in a nicely patriotic way: it’s because Australian rivers are notable for their muddiness turbidity i.e. they are silt-filled. The colours of the Yarra are the colours of our country, literally, being suspended earth from the upstream and middle-stream banks. She tells the geological story, and the story of Batman’s infamous so-called treaty with the local Aborigines, and the shameful story of how when the river suffered one of its numerous diversions, the unmarked grave of Barak was lost forever To read the rest of my review please visit http://anzlitlovers.com/2014/10/20/ya...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ro Wells

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ian Strong

  4. 4 out of 5

    Prathyusha

  5. 5 out of 5

    Debra Weddall

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fatema Johera Ahmed

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Simm

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura Smith

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Tynan

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nick Clarke

  13. 5 out of 5

    余馨

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cat

  15. 5 out of 5

    John

  16. 4 out of 5

    felixexplody

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julianne Rose

  18. 4 out of 5

    Don Highfield

  19. 5 out of 5

    MaryG2E

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jess

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ren Yellam

  23. 5 out of 5

    James Skipworth

  24. 5 out of 5

    Paul Challis-O'Shea

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ging

  28. 5 out of 5

    BeyondDL

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shula

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marian Strong

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