Prior to European settlement, the area was occupied by the indigenous Wurundjeri tribe of the Kulin nation. The rock falls would have provided the Aboriginal people with a natural river crossing and place to trap migrating fish. It was also a meeting place for many clans where they would trade, settle disputes and exchange brides.
In January 1803, Charles Grimes, the deputy surveyor-general of New South Wales, was sent to Port Phillip to survey the area. Sailing on the schooner Cumberland, under the command of Acting Lieutenant Charles Robbins, the party entered Port Phillip on 20 January 1803. Grimes explored the Yarra by boat for several miles until he reached Dights Falls on 8 February. On a ridge above the falls, 250 metres to the east, is a historic marker commemorating the “first white men to discover the river Yarra reaching Yarra Falls on 8th February, 1803.
Also to make the first crossing near here with the cattle by the first overlanders John Gardiner, Joseph Hawdon and Captain John Hepburn in December 1836”.
In the 1840s, an artificial weir was built on the natural bar of basalt boulders to provide water to the “Ceres” flour mill, one of the first in Victoria. In the early 1840s John Dight established Melbourne’s first water-powered flour mill on the site. In 1888 “Yarra Falls Roller Mills” built a water-turbine powered mill, which was the largest and most sophisticated of the thirty two water powered mills built in Victoria before 1900.
The area can be readily accessed from the Yarra River Trail. The rapids have been used many times for the Victorian Canoe Slalom Championships. The falls are a major obstacle to fish migration up the Yarra River. A fish ladder was installed in 1993, but subsequent research found it was not functioning adequately and would require modifications to improve its efficiency and effectiveness”. Melbourne Water have undertaken works from the end of 2010 to replace the weir and construct a new fishway to address this issue.
This post is part of the Water World Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Outdoor Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Footsteps Waters meme.
|Looking upstream towards the Falls|
|Looking downstream towards the City|