Plenty and its satellite, Lower Plenty, both take their name from the Plenty River, the chief geographical feature of both areas. The Plenty is one of the Yarra’s larger tributaries, and its upper reaches are the home of Yan Yean reservoir, the earliest artificial reservoir in Melbourne and the source of its drinking water for many years.

But it is not the Yan Yean – nor the legendary purity of its waters – that gives the river its name. In fact, the name of the river is based on a misunderstanding of the ‘plenty’ it provided. The steep upper valleys of the river have been a route by which bushfires entered the Melbourne region for as long as the Kulin people have lived there, and two summers prior to the discovery and exploration of the river, another fire had done so (burning out in the Banyule Flats area, a wide patch of swampland near the river’s confluence with the Yarra).

As a result of this fire, the area looked unusually verdant and healthy, as the new springtime growth was burgeoning and the worst scars of the fire were gone or concealed by it. It was only after settlement began along its banks that settlers learned what all that new greenery had actually meant. The river would indeed bring plenty of many kinds – but one of them would be plenty of trouble.

Suburbs near Plenty:

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