Wirribi means spine, as the shape of the river is like a spine. Wirribi Yaluk means the Werribee River. The river starts in the Great Dividing Ranges.
The Wadawurrung People who lived and were responsible for caring for this part of Country were the Marpeang bulluk group of the Wadawurrung. For thousands of years before European settlement began, the area that is now the City of Wyndham was a place of particular importance to Wadawurrung People.
The boundaries between different social groups were commonly marked by natural features such as streams or mountain ranges. Wirribi Yaluk was a boundary between the estates of the Wadawurrung and the Bunurong language groups. Wadawurrung Country stopped at Wirribi Yaluk. If you crossed the river at Wirribi you entered into the Country of the Bunurong.
There was cultural respect, and authority in regards to the shared values of Wirribi Yaluk when there was a boundary. You only crossed your boundary by invitation via message stick that would carry burnt markings to advise you when you were invited to the other group’s Country.
When you arrived you would be cleansed and smoked, this was a Cultural practice by each group. The smoking is about cleansing your feet of your Country, cleansing of your spirit so you do not bring bad spirit or harm onto others Country and the smoking lets our ancestors and creator know we have visitors on Country, we ask them to watch over our visitors while on Country. We ask of visitors to respect and have no greed or do no harm. We therefore ask that you respect and care for the waters of Wirribi Yaluk, and the animals, vegetation and birds that find refuge in this corridor.
From the Lower Werribee Waterways Amenity Action Plan which facilitated the development of this river guide