Monday, June 2, 2014

An Expotition Down Edgar's Creek

I had a (crazily beyond optimistic) fellowship application due with a fancy-pantsy German university on the last day of May. Despite warning everyone who'll listen about the perils of last-minute-dom, I found myself taking full advantage of the fact that we are on the far eastern edge of the world, the wondrous wonder of time-zones, and so kicked up my heels adding commas and tweaking adjectives until 7.36am on the 1st June, 144º58'E. Because I get asymptotically more beastly for every minute that I am awake after about 11pm, I'll often put myself to bed with something not quite finished and get up in the wee hours the next morning. And then, even if Doing Things at the Last Minute (and/or Hour) is Bad-o-McBadpants, I get to feel a kind of righteousness about polishing off a 5000-word document and flinging it etherwards in the general direction of Münich before your average Joe has had her Sunday porridge.

The day got a whole lot less productive after 7.36am. I went back to bed and finagled my progesterone pessary into place. I jettisoned my plans to mow the nature strip or mop our chook-poo-compromised living room floor or excavate the sediment of junk that's settled on top of the vacuum cleaner (if indeed the vacuum cleaner hasn't decomposed down there ... it's been a while). I didn't drain the goitre of my inbox. I didn't open the 108,000 word document I have to read and annotate by Wednesday. I may have watched an episode of The Time of Our Lives on iview, because what's a bespectacled Melburnian in her mid 30s to do?

And then we spent the rest of the day going for a walk along Edgar's Creek. Edgar's Creek is a proper creek, right up until it gets to Lalor, where it finds itself curtly disciplined into a broad concrete drain that stops the water from soaking into the soil and instead rushes it down south to join Merri Creek and then the Yarra. Up our end, just on the paddocky side of Lalor, organic life is doing its bit to slow down the flow. The drain is thick with reeds and tribes of gawky moor hens.

 The paddocky end of Lalor, looking north, towards the bucolic warehouses of Cooper St, Epping. Note delicious cardoons, fennel, and wild brassicas.

Where Edgar's Creek leaves its spongy soilbed and enters the concrete creek control facility, with bonus inscrutable creek-straining fence thingy, on the tippy northern edge of Lalor. Note blackberries.

Representative Edgar's Creek moorhen. Note Vietnamese mint in foreground.

A plucky adventurer.

The creek travels from the paddocks down between the back fences of rows of backyards, and we make a habit of tramping it from loquat season until the end of plum-time because of the high likelihood of stumbling across fruit left to drip onto the ground. Further downsteam, though, as it gets to Thomastown, Edgar's ploughs its concrete way through a kilometre or two of dark satanic mills. We always stop before we get here, not so much because of the lack of fruit trees or the high likelihood of wading through the industrial goo that gets into Edgar's at this point (just your average toxic dose of lead, arsenic, cadmium, etc), but because by now we've walked about five good kilometres and we have to walk the same to get back home again.

Wuchatsch House, from before the brick-veneerealisation of the Lalor/Thomastown borderlands.

Suburban sheep, doing their thang.

Also, by now we've generally seen the sheep, and our lives are thus complete; we can turn back satisfied. Yesterday, though, in the spattering rain, we kept going: past the sheep, past the Thommo Recreation and Aquatic Centre, through the creek tunnel under the Ring Road (a blaze of glorious graffiti as high as the spray-can can reach), then we had to cross the creek (wading, in my now thoroughly saturated shoes, through the arsenic-enriched waters) to the more navigable western bank, south past the massive Thomastown electricity terminal station, through a cyclone fence someone had kindly already cut open for us, and then down into Reservoir, where the edges of the creek get backyardy again.

 The tunnel under the six-lane northern Ring Road. Excellent acoustics; great place for choral recordings, spray-can-based-artwork, camping holidays, &c. You can barely hear the cars above. Water most definitely not potable, but on the other hand it didn't completely dissolve my shoes when I waded through it a few hundred metres downstream.

After the industrial strip, things get pretty excellent. As with the good people of Lalor, the Resvians of Reservoir are backyard agriculturalists with a keen eye for a bit of public land that can be appropriated for the cultivation of broccoli.

So there's a lot of this sort of thing, self-allotted allotment gardens, artfully terraced:

And here. I love that these people have positioned deck-chairs so that they can enjoy their view across the cabbages to the concreted drainage canal.

Note water in bottom righthand corner, lapping at edges of concrete. This far downstream, the creek's picked up three suburbs' worth of street-water and is positively gushing towards the Merri.

The best things of all, though, are the adjacent houses with little fowl-portals cut into their back fences. A gaggle of chooks grazed out the back of one house, scampering across rocks and behind prickly pears as we ambled into sight, and next door were eight Muscovy ducks, who one by one ducked (ha!) through their portal to escape us. As the co-proprietor of an establishment which sorely lacks for much needed chook-pasture, I was pretty impressed, let me tell you, by the good use of this de facto common. I can see something going wrong in the fox-meets-bird department one of these days, but at least the bird would die with a crop full of juicy green grass and a lot of outdoor adventuring under her belt.

So that, ladies and lentilmen, is what I did yesterday. Stay tuned for further adventures in the inner outer north.


  1. Count me a supporter of the Dark Satanic Mills in this walk.... why didn't we take more pics of those?

  2. Ooh and ahh. And how nice to hear of someone else whose nature takes a turn for the worse as the night progresses. Mind you, while I am a more pleasant individual early some time alone is mandatory. Quite a lot of time.

  3. A lovely day. Ducked indeed.

  4. Thanks, you lot. Elephant's Child, I'm horrid if I haven't had enough sleep. I wish it weren't so, because I often don't get enough sleep, but there it is. I just have to try and be less horrid.