The site of European settlement in the Port Phillip region was a place of many swamps. For the Indigenous population these features were essential to their way of life, for the wide diversity of foodstuffs and raw materials they provided. They were the main support for the meetings of large numbers of the Kulin nation that occurred regularly around the top of the Bay. As the immigrant population of Melbourne increased so too were the indigenes excluded from their customary haunts, and were thus eventually unable to maintain their traditional ways. The immigrant settlers viewed the swamps in a different light: they were a source of disease, and of such little regard they could be used as dumping grounds. As Melbourne grew and the need to improve commercial facilities increased, these areas were progressively transformed into a range of other, more culturally useful forms. The ways in which these wetlands played a part in the histories of both Indigenous and settler populations are examined.