These images capture the transient play of light on the surface of the Yarra River, when slight breezes or currents move the surface and disturb its reflections of the sky, the buildings on its banks, the pedestrian and rail bridges that cross it, and… well, I’m not sure. The eye is simply too slow and our field of vision too wide to capture these shimmers or to attest their source. They are otherwise-invisible baubles whose meaning is… what you please.
The Yarra River that runs, now, along the southern edge of the Melbourne business district, was where the earliest free — although sort-of-outlaw — settlers landed in 1835 and built a port. After the township, then known as Bearbrass to the locals, was gazetted as “Melbourne” in the late 1830’s, and especially after the gold-rushes of the 1850’s, the port gradually moved further down-river to where it empties into the Port Philip Bay.
In a plan Melburnians now regret, the northern bank of the Yarra river was surrendered to the railway in the 1850s. Rail lines and bridges now line that bank. But, since the 1980s, the southern side has been more carefully planned. Most of it is a pedestrian zone hosting a variety of buildings, including some of Melbourne’s tallest: hotels, shopping arcades, restaurants, office blocks, apartment buildings and an entertainment district with Opera, symphony and theaters. These buildings, I think, are the source of much of the light in these photos.