million years ago, molten lava erupting from volcanoes,
buried earlier landscapes. As the Maribyrnong River (known
previously as the Saltwater River), flowed in a series of
meanders. It cut deeply into the basalt plains to form the
- which included a kangaroo three metres in height,
as well as diprotodon roamed the plains until their
extinction 13,000 years ago, when climatic changes associated
with the end of the last Ice Age, took place.
indicates that Aboriginal people inhabited the area for
at least 40,000 years, or a span of 1600 generations, making
it among the oldest known human inhabited sites in Australia.
The Wurundjeri, believed that their way of life in the valley
was given to them by Bunjil, their great ancestral being,
who had created the land, its people and their culture.
It was Bunjil who showed them how to live in harmony with
their environment, respecting it and all living things.
The Wurundjeri enjoyed a rich lifestyle in the Maribyrnong
Valley, which provided them with a varied and healthy diet;
animals skins for their winter cloaks; bark for canoes,
containers and shields; and stone for tools. They led complex
social and cultural lives interacting with other tribes
of the Kulin nation.
Charles Grimes in 1803, and Hamilton Hume with William Hovell
in 1824, journeyed in the area, as they assessed the agricultural
potential of the Port Phillip Bay region. In 1835 John Batman
described the Keilor Plains as "the most beautiful
sheep pasture I ever saw". It was not until
the 1850s and the Gold Rush Period that Keilor could claim
any notoriety. At that time it became a stop-over
on the way to the goldfields and the 'Village' became a
bustling community with several Blacksmiths, Hotels, Caroline
Chisholm Shelter Sheds and other assorted businesses.
Orchards, market gardens, farmlands, flat grasslands and
river valley landscapes constitute what Keilor looked like
for almost 100 years but then there was a massive change
to suburbanisation with the Post World War II immigration
programme. Cheap land, industrial estates in the western
suburbs of Melbourne and available work, represented the
attraction to this area.