The most common aboriginal origin of the name is said to be ‘Mirring-gnai-birr-nong’ - ‘I can hear a ringtail possum’. This gives a lead to the area and the life style; the name is also given to the Yams that used to grow along the river.
This explanation sets the scene for our expedition up the river, which was third time lucky. After the rains on Friday and Saturday most were saying, “ah well, maybe next year”. Well, we were all caught out. Sunday morning dawned calm and just the day we wanted, with a little wind and not too chilly, so everyone started to appear - There was the OOD, followed by the president, and everyone else followed. A call from Leigh and Jo Hayley from Ballarat was just what we wanted. They are new members and rang to say they were on their way. Then it was 9.45am and all were ready.
Participants signed in and David Wilkinson, son of the OOD, gave out the history sheets and a short note for the observations we would see relating to the history of the Maribyrnong River, including how the Yarra has changed in its course over the years. OOD had obtained times of the large shipping arrivals and departures so we all were aware of rules to KEEP WELL OUT of the way: remember last time ???.
Six boats slid onto the water and with engines firing ventured forth. Two outboards (Honda and a Mercury) a Stewart Turner, original early Yanmar, a Blaxland twin and a Ford Ten (it purred along) Out in to the main entrance and up past pier 35. Just up to the main tower and then we turned left, entering the river via Coode island. (Remember the fires ) past the Cruise ship Blackbird and the old steam launch HUMUL ( now powered by a Holden engine ). It certainly was great to have the history list with us to see the 28 historical points that David had selected, some with photographs. I expect many a snap was also made as we made our way up river . We passed rowers and canoeists, we even slid into the man made lagoon where million dollar units were built at Edgewater, then past Pipemakers Park, past the Anglers tavern where we were to pick up Rod Smith (I think we were a bit early) but Jim, Penny and David shot off to the café right opposite for their morning caffeine fix and ended by picking up Rod and bringing him up for the lunch stop .We finally passed Aberfeldie Park and stopped at the Jetty at Riverside park for our lunch. A great spot, we filled the Rotunda. Food was removed, BBQ purloined and feeding began. Geoff brought his own a little gas camp stove for his sausages (He had brewed a cuppa on the journey) and Jim and Penny their spirit stove for the Billy tea. They are so well organized.
And we then had visitors, Rod Smith, Tony and Linda Remington, and Graham Signorini. The numbers were 21 all up, which was a great turnout. Much nattering, and group photographs were taken and then lunch finished and engines started again, but this time up the river to see the cliffs at Avondale Heights and the number 28 history spot and then it was time to turn for home. Only one visit by the boys in blue and Chris was fully checked for all his safety gear , which was all present and correct .
Yes, we all made it back and I am sure we were a wee bit chilly but we had all enjoyed a great day. Thanks to David for the history sheets. They certainly made the day very interesting and entertaining, and we now know a lot more about our “other” river .
The Maribyrnong participants were Quinton and David Wilkinson (Ballarat) Leigh McNolty and Kerrin Larsen, Boat DX89, Chris Kelly and David Moodie Boat ND644, Geoff Carroll , Louise Divko, Geoff Divko in VN26, Jim Stockton and Penny Braybrook, and David Ayres Boat HK495, David and Jenny Stott in Penguin, Leigh and Jo Hayley and Paul McConville (Ballarat ), boat PA96. Visitors were Tony and Linda Remington, Rod Smith and Graham Signorini.
Additional photos by Roderick Smith and Warwick Somerville (MV Blackbird)