Part of a podcast series

The Wheeler Centre

View all episodes in this series

So What If … Melbourne Was Underwater?

Listen to So What If … Melbourne Was Underwater?

Photo of the panellists

From left: Andi Horvath, Erin O'Donnell, Karen White and David Sornig — Photo: Scott Limbrick

The experts have spoken – there’s no doubt the water is rising. But what will it mean for Melburnians?

Your suburban backyard might not be growing seaweed, but the effects will be felt across our city as we adapt to new ways of being. What might rising water levels mean for our ports and for waste management? How will our roads and sewage systems be affected? Will we see a new wave of migration from other Australian cities that have been hit even harder? The reality of our future is upon us – how will we stay afloat?

Presented in partnership with Melbourne Knowledge Week, and featuring Erin O'Donnell, Karen White, David Sornig and host Andi Horvath.


Portrait of Andi Horvath

Andi Horvath

Andi Horvath has been commenting on science and culture online, on air and on the go since she was let out of the lab. Ask her about her latest podcasting adventures. She was a science broadcaster on 3RRR for over 20 years, alongside appearances on ABC TV and radio. She has developed major exhibitions for Museum Victoria and lectured and trained researchers in communications and podcast training.

Portrait of Erin O'Donnell

Erin O'Donnell

Dr Erin O’Donnell is a water law and policy specialist and is recognized internationally for her research into the ground-breaking new field of legal rights for rivers and the challenges and opportunities these new rights create for protecting the multiple social, cultural and natural values of rivers.

Her work is informed by comparative analysis across Australia, New Zealand, the USA, India, Colombia, and Chile, and Erin’s book, Legal Rights for Rivers, is available now. Erin is a research fellow at the Melbourne Law School, and in 2018, Erin was appointed to the inaugural Birrarung Council, the voice of the Yarra River.

Portrait of Karen White

Karen White

Karen White is a water professional with a passion for combining science with policy to improve the management of waterways and the wellbeing of communities.

Working locally and internationally, Karen has spent the last 20 years helping governments and businesses understand the water challenges they face due to changing social and environmental conditions.

Her signature projects include the innovative flood resilience solutions for the London 2012 Olympics and and more recently advising on long term environmental plans for Port Phillip Bay and the Yarra River.

Portrait of David Sornig

David Sornig

David Sornig’s Blue Lake: finding Dudley Flats and the West Melbourne Swamp (Scribe, 2018) charts the loss of the wetlands on the western edge of central Melbourne and rise of the rubbish tips and shanties that replaced them. He is the author of the novel Spiel (UWAP, 2009) and his fiction and non-fiction writing has featured in Kill Your Darlings, Harvard Review, Griffith Review, Island and the Age. He is the co-creator of an audio adaptation of Blue Lake for Radio National’s The History Listen which was first broadcast in April 2019.

The Wheeler Centre

Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre's podcast to hear full recordings of our talks – featuring the best in books, writing and ideas.