Written in 1996 after a boat trip on 'The Blackbird' on the Maribynong River, once one of Melbourne's most degraded waterways now in recovery. Tour guide Peter helped with the facts. Emu, Steele and Dry are the names of creeks. Boonwurrung & Woiworung the names of local tribes.
Ancient Cobaw Ranges send a ribbon of history bend on bend,
Gathering Emu, Steele and Dry under a wide Victorian sky,
Food for the Boonwurrung joy for the Woiworung,
Red Gum, Grey Box and Werribee Plain.
A river's life is ages long a river's current runs deep and strong,
This ribbon of life, this Maribyrong, will live on.
Tearing the side of ancient rocks, quarrymen sweated for bluestone rocks,
Gathering basalt stone and clay to build the towns of the golden way,
Malthouse, flourmill, bank vault, gaol wall,
Belltower tall* from the Werribee Plain.
To serve the growing needs of man with blood and bone that river ran,
Tallow to candle and meat to stew, hides to leather and hocks to glue,
Slaughter house and tannery, ammunition factory, **
Took their time on the Werribee Plain.
All the canning halls are gone Hume's Pipe factory moved along,
Fitters and turners and welder's spark making way for path and park,
Ghosts of the River Queen, pleasures past have been,
Found again on the Werribee Plain.
*My hometown of Kyneton was on the goldfield's route, I knew these buildings well.
** I can recall the smells as the train passed through on the way to the city.