Historical information

As the Yarra became unsuitable as a source of water, several attempts were made to find alternative sources for the growing population of Melbourne. It was not until 1891 that the efforts to sewer Melbourne came to fruition with the setting up of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), now known as Melbourne Water. From 1891 until 1992, it was the responsibility of the MMBW to safeguard public health by providing a sewerage system and a safe water supply system. In 1992, The MMBW merged with a number of smaller urban water authorities to form Melbourne Water.

Denine Moloney made history at the MMBW as the Board’s first female apprentice gardener, at the young age of 16. Denine was part of a team that cultivated and distributed up to 140,000 plants a year from the nursery complex that was housed on Warrigal Road, in Moorabbin. The large trees, shrubs and various other plants were all used in Board beautification projects.

At the time, Denine lived with her parents and rode her bicycle to and from work each day while she attended Oakleigh Technical College one day a week as part of her apprenticeship. Denine’s ambition was to become a professional landscape gardener after her apprenticeship was completed, and four years later was in fact appointed as head gardener at Jells Park in 1983. Denine was not the last woman to work as a gardener at the Board, bringing with her two female assistants at Jells Park in caring, maintaining and distributing the Board’s horticulture.


This staff newsletter highlights the significant achievement of Denine Moloney, becoming the first female gardener to work at the Board. This captured achievement highlights women's career advancement at the MMBW and within the Victorian public service, whilst having historic and social associations with the many women's rights movements of the 1970s.