Yarra River - Some Notes.
1. The Yarra River is some 242km long. It rises in the Yarra Ranges National Park, high in the Great Dividing Range and east of Warburton. The name "Yarra" comes from a word meaning "flowing water" in the language of the Aboriginal people who inhabited the area before the arrival of Europeans.
2. The lower reaches of the river were first surveyed in 1803 and Melbourne was established on its banks 32 years later. In 1851 gold was discovered for the first time in Victoria in a tributary of the Yarra River near Warrandyte. The river banks were mined and in places the river itself was diverted so the river bed also could be mined. The most conspicuous example of this is at Pound Bend at Warrandyte where the river was diverted through a tunnel to expose over 3.8km of river bed for mining.
3. The upper parts of the river and its tributaries are impounded and diverted for Melbourne's urban water use. The flow, by the time the river reaches Melbourne's urban fringe, is about half of its former natural flow. Nevertheless, these upper waters provide good fishing due to both self sustaining populations of fish and an active stocking program.
4. Further downstream, from about where the Maroondah Highway crosses the river near Healsville, the river progressively takes on the brown colour which characterises its downstream waters. This comes from suspended clay particles collected as the river and its downstream tributaries flow through agricultural land. About 60% of the Yarra River's catchment is in agricultural or urban use. There are numerous parks and golf courses along the river once it enters the urban zone. Within this zone, recreational activities include rowing as well as fishing.
5. The lowest parts of the river have been extensively urbanised and, after flowing through Melbourne City, the river hosts one of the largest ports in the southern hemisphere. In this part, both the river bed and its course have been significantly altered since the arrival of European settlement.