The valleys of the Maribyrnong River system form some of the most dramatic landscapes in the greater Melbourne area. A series of waterways cut through the flat volcanic plain, meandering through deep gorges where layers of geological formations are exposed, such as the impressive basalt columns at Organ Pipes National Park.
Aboriginal occupation of the Maribyrnong River system extends back many thousands of years. Archaeological investigation of sites at Keilor, just to the west of Melbourne Airport, found artefacts contained in silt and cla y deposits several metres deep and established that humans were living here more than 31,000 years ago.
Recently Dr Vincent Clark and Associates, along with the Wurundjeri Tribe Land & Compensation Cultural Heritage Council, have investigated the archaeology of Deep Creek at Bulla. A planned bypass will cross Deep Creek over a viaduct north of the current bridge. This required VicRoads to commission a cultural heritage plan which would identify and, where possible, protect important archaeological sites.
The full results are still being compiled, but we have published an article that describes one aspect of the investigation (link below). Excavations on a large terracebeside Deep Creek found that beneath the rocky surface there are silt deposits that contain Aboriginal tools, including quartzite implements. The context of these finds, their size and material, and the dating of charcoal samples to between 12,100 and 11,400 before present prove that this valley was being occupied during the Late Pleistocene, at a time of significant environmental change.