The Maribyrnong River is one of Melbourne’s largest rivers stretching 130 kilometres from the Macedon Ranges to Port Phillip Bay, and with a predominantly rural catchment of over 1400 square kilometres. The river valley cuts deeply through the lava flows of the Keilor and Werribee plains. This basalt rock was created by volcanic eruptions over two million years ago. Beginning as Deep Creek, the Maribyrnong gathers Emu Creek, Jacksons Creek (south of Bulla), Taylor’s Creek (near Keilor), and Steeles Creek (near Essendon) before joining the Yarra River at Footscray. As the Maribyrnong enters the built up area of Melbourne, it begins a dramatic transformation from a natural river to a highly urbanized working river. 


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Maribyrnong River – Nikki

The Maribyrnong River corridor is critical to the physical and emotional health of many communities in the west of Melbourne, and COVID-19 crisis has proved this. The river and surrounding parklands are biodiverse, home to many animal populations including the iconic platypus. The Maribyrnong valley contains over 290 plant species including remnant vegetation patches containing river red gums and a variety of kangaroo grasses. The river and its tributaries are corridors that allow plants and animals to move and adapt to changes in catchment and climate. 


As the city continues to grow, the greatest challenge today is to protect the river from the pressures of continued urban sprawl of the city, and the attendant problems of pollution, loss of habitat and increases in population and usage.


The Yarra Riverkeepers will continue to celebrate and value the riverscape and landscape though educational activities and on ground revitalisation works.


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Maribyrnong Facts


130 kilometres


Macedon Ranges


Port Phillip Bay

  • Length
  • Source
  • Mouth

Whereas the Freshwater took the name ‘Yarra’, the Maribyrnong River was soon named the Saltwater by early settlers, due to the tidal nature of its lower reaches. The name Maribyrnong may derive from mirringgnay-bir-nong which in Woiwurrung (the language of the local Wurundjeri people) is said to mean “I can hear a ringtail possum”. The Maribyrnong River valley has been home for the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation for up to 40,000 years. Human remains dated at least 15,000 years old have been found along the river, with much older signs of human habitation also present. Thousands of cultural sites and places have been recorded, most along the river. The land and waters of this region continue to hold deep spiritual and cultural significance to the Kulin nations.