The watery landscapes which once characterised the south-eastern shore of Port Phillip bay (Boon Wurrung Country), were gradually filled, piped underground, drained, or built over through a process of colonial urbanisation. But the water must always flow and ecologies find a way to survive, even underground.
Hidden Rippon Lea is a sound and AR experience at Rippon Lea Estate in Elsternwick, which explores the hidden and underground water narratives that underpin this well-known colonial site. By weaving together the voice of Boon Wurrung elder N’arweet Carolyn Briggs, recordings of pre-colonial watercourses running under Glen Eira Road, and AR imagery of the intricate 19th-century water reticulation system at Rippon Lea, this interactive experience, delivered through a mobile device, demonstrates the complex and vulnerable hybrid natural/artificial water ecologies under our cities. The app also explores how sustainable water management at Rippon Lea has supported the site to become a haven of biodiversity, including for the migratory shortfin eel, as well as endangered migratory birds.
A panel discussion will follow the Hidden Rippon Lea experience, featuring representatives from the National Trust of Australia, Melbourne Water, and Boon Wurrung Land and Sea Council, as well as geographers, planners, and designers. They will discuss how to reposition sites like Rippon Lea as part of Country and consider their role in supporting ecologies in the urban environment. The discussion will be followed by a guided tour of the estate and its hidden water.