Nathan Mifsud

Every Yarra Crossing

Ongoing observations from mouth to dam

Watercolour painting of a wooden punt crossing the river carrying a horse and cart with hay and two men on horses.

Punt over the Yarra at Richmond, 1871, Charles Norton

Just shy of a million years ago, volcanoes north of Narrm produced gentle but unstoppable outflows of molten rock that cut the Yarra’s tail from its mouth. This shaped the lower bends of its present course, as the river felt blindly around the cooled lava to find its way back to the bay.

Since moving here, I’ve been enchanted by the waterways that thread the city. When I first arrived, my commute to work was along Darebin Creek, a tributary of the Yarra—upstream in crisp air, downstream in the evening—and my body often felt light as I cycled the trail, as if the lava-lined valley had been carved for the sole purpose of swooping down its curves at dusk.

Later, when I explored the volcanic plains that spread west across Victoria, the circuit I took ended with Darebin Creek. On turning home shortly before its confluence with the Yarra, I realised that I’d have to pick up where I left off. The silty snake awaited.

The idea to investigate crossings—bridges, boats, tunnels—originated in a novelty route I designed. It connects 42 crossings (some two-thirds of the total) and is best cycled on a warm night beneath a bright moon, finishing with a punt service across the river mouth at dawn.

Clearly, I’m all for a madcap box-ticking exercise, but the motivation behind this project is different. I’ve set rules for myself: visit only one crossing per outing (unless they’re very close together), and if it’s a solo trip, get there without a car. This means it will take years to complete—if I ever do. That’s OK. It’s about the process.

The sites become places of reflection. I pay unusual attention to everyday features I might otherwise miss: insects, trees, passers-by, trash. Collectively, the photos and lists that I share form a splintered survey of Birrarung, a slow accumulation of moments by the water.

Crossings so far

Ordered from mouth to dam. Italicised crossings are not accessible on foot, so I observed them from afar and beneath.

  1. West Gate Bridge
  2. Webb Bridge
  3. Charles Grime Bridge
  4. Queens Bridge
  5. Sandridge Bridge
  6. Evan Walker Bridge
  7. Princes Bridge
  8. Morell Bridge
  9. Cremorne Railway Bridge
  10. Church Street Bridge
  11. Gardiners Creek Bridge
  12. Monash Freeway
  13. Wallen Road Bridge
  14. Hawthorn Railway Bridge
  15. Hawthorn Bridge
  16. Victoria Bridge
  17. Walmer Street Bridge
  18. Collins Bridge
  19. Johnston Street Bridge
  20. Kanes Bridge
  21. Eastern Freeway
  22. Fairfield Pipe Bridge
  23. Chandler Highway
  24. Fairfield Railway Bridge
  25. Darebin Creek Trail
  26. Main Yarra Trail
  27. Burke Road
  28. Ruffey Trail
  29. Westerfolds Park
  30. Diamond Creek Trail