NEWELL’S PADDOCK WETLANDS NATURE RESERVE – Part 2

The inner western suburb  of Footscray (next to my suburb of Maribyrnong) may not be known for wildlife but Newells Paddock Wetland Reserve provides a watery oasis for dozens of bird species, snakes and frogs.

Further to my previous post uploaded last night, this post story starts with the entrance to the Nature Park and picnic area.

I walked through the landscaped picnic area and then up the path on the left hand side of this map. When I got to the end of the big pond/lake, I stopped to ask some walkers if they knew of an entrance to the Conservation area.   No, they didn’t.   I walked all the way back to the starting point to have a look at the map. While it showed some walking paths, it didn’t mention any wetlands entrance and it was all fenced with both a wooden post & rail fence and then, a wire fence, no doubt to discourage dogs or feral animals (as in the image below).

About sixty different bird species have been sighted in the reserve, including cormorants, herons, ibis, falcons and a pair of swans. The reserve contains a number of ponds, (or small lakes), which are interconnected and fed by a storm water system.

From the fence I could see plenty of bird life on the water and a passing train in the distance.

From the fence line I could see 2 Black Swans and what looked like a female Chestnut Teal. At this stage I was regretting not having the longer telephoto lens as I could have sat it on the fence (in place of a tripod). Looks like a Pacific Black Duck in front of the other birds on the island.
A lone Pied Cormorant sat in the middle of the pond in this part of the Wetlands.
Another view from the fence (with the city in the background).

I saw a Great Egret, a White-faced Heron, 2 Black Swans, several Little Pied Cormorants, a few Pacific Black Ducks, many Eurasian Coots, a couple of Dusky Moorhens, Chestnut Teals and other water birds (which were too far away to identify).  I might add I’ve never seen a falcon on any of my nature walks over recent years, so if I spotted one over, or in, Newell’s Paddock, I’d be really thrilled.

Like the Maribyrnong River the reserve sits beside, the water is brackish, so plants must be salt tolerant.

I walked back along the left hand path (on the map) and reached the ‘viewing platform’.  It was good to be higher up and able to see over the area to the left (or top of the map).

I walked back a ways and diverted to the river side walking/cycling track and found the (back) entrance and through to the actual wetlands as seen in the image below.

Not sure what the flower is. Loosestrife perhaps?

Much of the area around the smaller pond was covered in some sort of low-growing succulent which one might see down the beach among sand dunes.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – too are away and in bright sunlight, a very poor shot.
This shot was a bit better with the sun behind me and the exposure reduced. Still, it would be better with to try for a closer shot with my 150-500mm lens.

The bed of succulents was like a springy carpet to walk upon and I left the sandy wide path and ventured over the succulent surface in order to get closer to the Great Egret standing at the pond edge, and later, the White-faced Heron (lower left below) in some scrubby low-lying grass for photography purposes.

Both birds caught sight of me quickly and started to move away so my images made with the Sony a6000 & 55-210mm lens really were poor.  Next time I visit the Wetlands area I’ll take a longer lens and see if I can get some better images of the bird life.

You can just see the white Great Egret in the mid left hand third of this image. That’s as close as I could get without the bird moving away. The Sony’s 55-210mm lens zoomed out got me a wee bit closer.

Then I walked on over the wide sandy path and through some shady trees to the real entrance.  I had been so close to it when I walked through the picnic area, but with no sign on the entrance map or the picnic area paths, had mistakenly walked all the way round to the back entrance by the river.  Maybe one day I’ll get around to asking the council to include the walking path through the conservation area and both entrance and exit on their map.

I exited the Conservation & Wetlands area through the REAL entrance.
Back to the soccer field (not shown on the left of the frame), picnic area and landscaped parkland.

I deliberately shot most of my images to include the city, river, railway track etc so you could see what sort of urban setting this is in.  In some ways the Wetlands looked like an old rubbish dump on vacant land.  (which it turns out it was if you would like to read some of the history below).

  • Thousands of years ago, Newell’s Paddock most likely formed part of the wide river banks of the Maribrynong River (which were up to 1.5km wide). Aboriginal people have lived in the Maribyrnong River valley for at least 40,000 years and probably far longer. The City of Maribyrnong was built largely on the traditional lands of the Marin-balluk clan of the Woi Wurrung language group, one of the five language groups of the Kulin Nation. The Wurundjeri tribe of the Kulin Nation is recognised as the traditional custodians of this land. The river flats near Newell’s Paddock were valuable areas for gathering food and “an early explorer” recorded Aboriginal middens on the banks of the Maribyrong River in Footscray.
  • European settlement in Maribyrnong in the 1830s had a massive impact on Aboriginal people. Traditional lands were taken over by settlers and graziers. Aboriginal people began moving back into Kulin territories from missions and government reserves in the early years of the twentieth century, particularly in the 1920’s and 1930’s. They worked in the large industries that were established in Maribyrnong including the Angliss Meatworks and the railways. 
  • “Newell’s Paddock in the 1870’s was a magnet for young Footscray boys who gathered mushrooms and caught yabbies in the two large waterholes. Legend has it that that the boys also swam in the waterholes. This practice was probably discontinued into the 1880’s when the paddock’s owner, local contractor and businessman, David Newell, used it as a night soil dump. For a while at the end of the nineteenth century, Newell’s Paddock was Parkside Football Club’s home ground.”
  • Newell’s Paddock was used as a holding yard for cattle and sheep from Newmarket Saleyards for the Abattoir owned by William Angliss. The Stockbridge over the Maribyrnong River (east end of the park) is a “tangible reminder of the vast Angliss complex. The Stockbridge was built in 1941 so that stock purchased from the Newmarket Saleyards could be driven across the bridge to Newells paddock rather than along the public road. The materials for the bridge came from a footbridge that had spanned the Yarra River at Punt Road from 1899 to 1938”. See the Maribyrnong River Heritage Trail pamphlet for more information.
  • There was also a rail link into the Angliss Meatworks, called Angliss siding which can be seen in early photographs/maps. Angliss’s Siding was opened in 1905, and closed in 1970. The land has been restored to contain the natural waterholes that existed here before white settlement and it is now preserved as a natural wetlands park. Landscape architect Dr. Jill Orr-Young did the initial landscape design in 1988.

Friends of Newell’s Paddock was formed in 2014 and I suspect it is they who have spent numerous hours maintaining and extending the area of shady trees in the Nature Park as well as the slope beside the railway track.  I could see dozens (if not hundreds) of pale aqua plastic tents formed about the many young saplings at the railway edge of the Conservation Area to protect them from small critters who might damage or eat the young plants.

One of the main arterial roads leading into the city is next door to the eastern perimeter fence.

Under this road bridge is the Maribyrnong River walking path, which may be another option to getting to Newell’s Paddock next time. I would say its probably an hour’s brisk walk from my home for a healthy fit person, but I could get a bus to the Edgewater Estate Wetlands which is halfway there and then walk along the river path. Personally I’d rather do my walking inside the Conservation area, not waste my worn-out feet on the route TO Newell’s Paddock.

Anyway, the whole area is really quite extraordinary to walk around and quite an oasis in the urban jungle that is Footscray.

Next visit (on a cooler day in Autumn or even winter perhaps), I will see if I can get any close-up bird shots.  This post gives you an overall view of the area and I won’t be making any more photos of the landscape.  Spring might be a good time to photograph some of the wild flowers too.

If I had a car and could drive there in 15 minutes (as the crow flies), I imagine this wild life area might be worth visiting at dawn in winter, when fog or mist might make for some moody landscape shots.  Just guessing of course 🙂

 

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NEWELL’S PADDOCK URBAN NATURE PARK (and Conservation Wetlands) – Part 1


After a busy week with appointments, I almost felt like I never wanted to go in, (or through), the city again.  It was far more crowded than usual and I felt assaulted with the smell of cigarette smoke, bright lights and noisy smelly perfumed crowds milling around me and competing for seats on public transport.  It wasn’t until I was in the hairdressers chair early Thursday afternoon and she mentioned the Australian Grand Prix’s influx of tens of thousands of visitors, that it all made sense.

Today was the big Race Day and with a cool breeze softening the heat of the day, I decided to explore Newell’s Paddock Nature Park and Wetlands area.

Car races are not really my scene at all.

Story to follow in another post, but here’s an introduction to this green oasis – Melbourne City a mere backdrop.  After lots of Physio attention to a painful spasm in my neck last Wednesday, (which should teach me to stop resting my heavy long telephoto lens on my face staring straight up to the top of a giant Eucalyptus tree again 🙂 ), I decided to leave the heavy lens at home.

BIG mistake.  I saw lots and LOTS of birds…..and even better, a lovely rich green landscape to photograph them in.  I had no idea if there was an actual walking track in the Conservation area prior to my visit though.

I had looked at many online photos made of the area, but going from experience, the reality down on the ground can be entirely different to that conveyed on the internet.

It was a long walk from the bus stop area to the Nature Park.

The bus driver kindly dropped me off at the nearest main road intersection, not at the actual bus stop located further down the road, (and well away from my destination), but it was still much further to walk to the area than it looked on the Google map and I was really hot when I arrived.  I was wishing, not for the first time lately, that I still had a car.

Worse, later this afternoon, when the hot uphill walk to the actual bus stop drained the last dregs of water in my drink bottle,  I stopped to ask a lady standing in her garden if she could fill my drink bottle from her kitchen tap.  She looked at me like I was a slime-covered Alien from Outer space…….and declined my request.  Duh!  Next time I visit this lovely green oasis, I will take a wheeled bag, my long telephoto lens and 2 BOTTLES OF WATER 🙂

Most of the bird life was too far away for my Sony a6000 and it’s 55-210mm lens.

I had also taken my Canon DLSR and Sigma 17-50mm ‘landscape’ lens……just in case I saw some scenes to practice Landscape Photography.

If you’ve followed my Nature Blog for a while, you will know that I usually take close-ups most of the time (since my 18-200mm lenses died – for both Canon & Sony cameras).

I saw LOTS OF BIRDS today and will certainly visit the area again.

Another hot day tomorrow and while convenient to do some household chores and review this afternoon’s photography to fill in the day, looks like nice cool days and some real Autumn weather to follow.

Dusk

Yesterday, for the first time since I moved to this western suburb of Maribyrnong 6 months ago, I FINALLY got around to walking down to the river at dusk.

The light was just gorgeous.

The cool breeze was just so refreshing.

Really the best time of day at the moment.

Of course, as I walked past the Nature Reserve fence I couldn’t help but look over to the (now) inaccessible lake.  I was rather taken aback to see quite a lot of bird life on the water and then, very disappointed that I’d left the long 150-500mm telephoto lens at home.  Isn’t that  always the way 🙂

I tried to zoom in with the Sony a6000 and 55-210mm lens….  Not good enough.

I could see a Little Pied Cormorant on a rock in the middle of the lake, with a Chestnut Teal (and mate?) to the left, a couple of Pacific Black ducks and that unusual dabbling duck on the right (tan colour with whitish head in the image below).

Might sound weird that it’s taken me all this time to do the 5 minute walk to the river at this time of late afternoon, but dusk is usually when I’m preparing dinner, watering my potted plants and trimming herbs on my balcony while it’s cool,  or catching up with my favourite TV show.

I’ve meant to see what the sunset would look like from the river path for some time.

Last night we didn’t quite get a lovely sunset, but I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh breeze standing next to the artificial watercourse at Frogs Hollow watching the sun go down.  It had been a hot day and very muggy and humid indoors (despite my air-conditioning).

I had my Canon DSLR and new(ish) 17-50mm landscape lens as well as a tripod (which I didn’t really need as it turned out).  I had a steel waist-high fence to rest the camera on for some shots.

So after having a lovely chat with a couple pushing a pram and walking their dog, who ended the conversation with the advice that there were often unsavoury louts drinking and hooning around between the river and car park further along and I would be well advised to head for home as I was on my own.  My expensive looking camera gear might attract unwanted attention and potential theft.  I’m past the age of running risks at night on my own in poorly lit places.  Without being paranoid, no sunset photos are worth a mugging.

So that’s what I did.

I headed home.

As I got half way along the gravel pathway home, it seemed to suddenly get a lot darker as the sun dropped behind my hill and I turned on my (new) little bright lantern hooked on my wheeled trolley.  I had bought it for indoors as we’ve had several power outages in my building in recent months and it’s really hard to navigate my lounge room with just a small torch.  I’d bought a mini camping lantern with a USB charger for such occasions and to light my bathroom and galley kitchen to avoid setting off the overly sensitive smoke alarms with candles,  but thought it might be a good idea to take it if I planned to walk anywhere in dim light.

So, no dazzling sunset shots to share.  Just a lovely bit of golden light, a few wispy clouds and silhouettes.

I’m no ‘Spring Chicken’ any more and slow-moving, so I think I’ll keep my sunset photography to better-lit locations in future.

Not that I’m a wimp – just sensible when given some good local advice.

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New Blog Link

New Blog now available at this address.  Not sure if black is the ideal background, but a few more posts and blog design tweaks will give me the answer I’m sure.

This new blog is only about Sunsets, Cloud formations (and maybe the odd Sunrise) and starts at the first image in my archival folder on those subjects made with a little Canon point & shoot camera in 2010.  It will then follow on with Canon DSLR images from 2011 onwards and Sony ‘mirrorless’ images from early 2015 (eventually).

If you’ve followed my blogs, (old & new), for the last 7 years you may have seen all the images and the new blog holds little interest for you, but if you’re a relatively new follower you may not have seen any of the images at all 🙂

There are no exotic locations, spectacular country or mountain landscapes, merely Light, Colour and/or Cloud Formations.

 

SUNRISE, SUNSET (and all the clouds in-between)

Sunrise in country Victoria
8.02 am DST (daylight savings time) 12th February 2012.

If you followed my nature blog for a few years, you’ll know that when I lived on the north-east side of Melbourne on a 3rd floor apartment for 20 months, I had a 180 degree uninterrupted view of the sky (over the rooftops of the warehouses and residences right over to the Good Shepherd Chapel church spire in The Convent, Abbotsford.

You’ll remember some of those brilliant sunsets (and occasionally sunrises, when the bird calls woke me early) which I made from my 3rd floor balcony.  I’ve deleted all old posts a few weeks ago as I was running out of media room on this blog.

I’ve decided to open another blog and repeat those 250+ images now that I have them all in the one photo folder (l finished cataloging them last night).

Sunset 10th August 2015 – 7:34:17pm

I think to upload one a week might be enough to share, without overloading follower’s readers or email inbox, or maybe even less?  Or maybe I’ll post 5 days in a row to start the blog off to spark some interest in following/sharing my photography 🙂

Hopefully by the time I get to the last image in this current archive folder, I will have made more sunset and cloud images (perhaps not so much sunrise – as I don’t get up early enough these days – the birds are not as vocal in my suburb of Maribyrnong at sunrise). Here’s a sampling of what you’ll see if you would like to follow that new blog.  I haven’t set it up yet as I wanted to find a free WordPress template where the image completely fills the screen.  Might take me a couple of days to go through the WordPress theme options.  The headline will be the time, date and year etc. and I probably won’t write any words within the post.  Being a visual person myself, I like looking at photo posts which are quick to view.

I’ll have to find a better location to make  future sunset images though, as my current apartment building is built into a steep hillside and I can’t see as much (despite facing west where the sun sets).  Maybe I just need to walk up the 100 feet of the steep hillside to the main road?

There won’t be any exotic locations of course, as I don’t travel or have a car and am limited in getting around via public transport these days and rarely go far at night.   Most of these images are un-edited and the sky REALLY is that amazing colour.  Some nights are completely clear and there is nothing interesting to share.

Occasionally the images will just be of clouds or approaching storms (for a bit of variety).

Last night…….not much, but here it is….

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