Flora and Fauna

The Maribyrnong River and surrounding parklands are biodiverse and home to many native species. At least 100 bird species inhabit this environment during different times of the year. Waterbird species found in large numbers include the Pacific black duck, chestnut teal, straw-necked Ibis, purple swamphen, and masked lapwing.

The area is home to many mammal species, including platypus, koalas, sugar gliders, the short-beaked echidna, and platypus. About twelve species of frogs  and toads have been recorded around the river, including the endangered growling grass frog. Ten species of native fish, and eight species of exotic fish are present in the river, with the most common species including the exotic eastern gambusia, common galaxia, and flat-headed gudgeon. About twenty reptile species are known to inhabit the Maribyrnong River and surrounding areas, with skinks making up a large proportion of that number. Supporting these communities, more than 60 aquatic insects are found in the Maribyrnong River.

The vegetation in and around the Maribyrnong Valley has changed substantially since European settlement and the urban growth of Melbourne. Historical records show that much of Footscray and Sunshine were covered with an open forest of she-oak, while native pastures of kangaroo grass covered the river banks and plains beyond. River red gum and grey box woodlands once dominated the Essendon area. Red gum, bottle brush, and reed beds grew along the river bank upstream of Avondale, with lightwood wattle common around the confluence with other creeks. Today, a few remnant vegetation patches exist, particularly in the upper Maribyrnong. 

Links to Additional Resources



King, A., Crook, D., Shackleton, M., Bond, N. (2020). MERI for Fish of the Melbourne Water region: A Discussion Paper. Report prepared for Melbourne Water by the Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems, La Trobe University. CFE Publication 263.


APS Keilor Plains (2011) Plants of Melbourne’s Western Plains: A Gardener’s Guide to the Original Flora, 2nd Edition. APS Keilor Plans, Melbourne.


McDougall, K. (1987). Sites of Botanical Significance in the Western Region of Melbourne. Melbourne University. 


Forster, G., Hallam, M., Moore, R. M. (1976) Vegetation in an Urban Environment – The Western Surrounds of Melbourne. CSIRO  

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