In the words of Carole King: “City streets, the stories that they tell”

“When the Hoddle Grid was superimposed on the early Melbourne landscape in 1837 it did not take into account the spiritual and cultural connections to this land of its traditional custodians, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong Boon Wurrung Peoples of the Eastern Kulin.

“Nor did it consider the lie of the land in its bid to recreate a sense of “home”, of the familiar in an unfamiliar colonial context. It ignored the fact that Elizabeth St was laid out along the line of an old creek bed in what was the base of a valley, the lowest part of the CBD. Add to that the man-made developments at the Yarra River end of the street that created barriers to the natural flow of water down to the river and you have a main thoroughfare often boggy and impassable in wet weather in the days before the road surfaces were bituminised.

“The potential for flooding has always been there. Who could forget the dramatic flash flood of February 1972, for example, when the CBD was inundated by nearly 80 mm of rain in an hour. That afternoon, just as peak hour began, Elizabeth St became a fast flowing, one-and-a-half-metre-high waterway. Pedestrians were knocked off their feet and parked cars were swept away by the swirling torrent of water that moved in white-capped waves down towards Flinders Street Station. Spectacular. Disruptive. And not something city workers expected that morning as they headed in to work, in all likelihood walking up a dry and benign-looking Elizabeth Street from Flinders Street Station.”

To read Cheryl Griffin’s full story in the latest CBD News click here.