A DISAPPOINTING SHORT WALK

(NOTE: this will be my last long post for a long while 🙂 ).

Just before I came indoors at the end of last Sunday’s walk, I had turned around to survey the land between my apartment block and the river and had suddenly seen a very flat open path into the Nature Reserve.

At the late hour of 4.20pm, it was too late to venture in to explore, as the sun would dip below the top of the hill and place this area into deep shade, or semi-dark, early (on this mid-winter day).

We’re past the shortest day in the southern hemisphere but it still gets dark relatively early.

Between rain showers on Monday I decided to walk down the slope and enter the mown pathway for a quick exploratory walk.  I only had my heavy duty umbrella and lightweight Sony a6000 in my hands.  A quick check of the rain radar online shortly beforehand had shown what looked like clear blue sky for an hour or so.

But it was very wet all around me.

The grass/reeds were still a good 7-8 foot high and mostly impenetrable either side of the path.

This area of high grass was where I’d had my first sighting of the European Goldfinch last October (in the 3 images below).

The non-indigenous tree with the fruit in the first Finch image above, has now been cut down as shown in the tree stump below.

The blue water is just a large deep puddle

I had also seen a Red Wattlebird in the thick tree cover on the eastern rim of the nature reserve (below) so I knew there were definitely birds to be seen (and photographed to share online) in the reserve.

Red Wattlebird – not a good shot per se, but at least you can see the pink ‘wattles’ or what I call ‘earrings’ which identify the Red Wattlebird from the Little Wattlebird.

I had also seen Red-browed Finches on the chain wire fence along the southern rim of the Nature Reserve last December (images below).

Back to Monday’s short walk………

After about 50 feet,  the broad path made by the tractor/grasscutter came to an end and I found myself in a winding tunnel where I had walked through last summer.  Some of the overhanging branches I had cut back with my secateurs had grown over again and the path became very slippery in the knee high grass.  I was soaking wet up to my knees by this time and cursed not thinking to bring one of my Mother’s old walking sticks to poke around checking for hidden holes.

I eventually reached the lake edge (with about 2 feet of a rather prickly looking bush between my feet and the water).

This is where I’d walked last summer and where I felt it would be wonderful to have a cleared pathway and small wooden jetty, or lookout, for visitors to enjoy spotting water birds on the lake.

I had seen Little Pied Cormorants, Eurasian Coots and a Black Swan swimming around in the small patch of water I could see over the Nature Reserve chainwire fence many times before.

I felt sure nature lovers would enjoy this Nature Reserve if only the council made a path around the enormous patch of water and cleared some of high grass and water reeds.  The Council wouldn’t have to clear too much for visitors (and me) to spend a couple of hours in these Wetlands and Nature Reserve.  I’ve been told the Council have shelved this whole idea of a path due to lack of funds.

As you can see by the image below, it really is potentially dangerous to attempt to walk through this jungle.  It’s impossible to see where firm land ends and boggy holes or the lake edge begins.

I was so disappointed and headed back towards home.  There are about 4-5 apartment blocks and a row of townhouses built into the side of the hill and you can see how close we are to the Nature Reserve in the image below………approximately 100 feet (?).

The sun came out from behind the rain clouds and I decided to walk a short way along the western rim of the reserve.

The golden heads of Wild Radish were about thigh high and I got even more wet trying to find a path through to what looked like a slight gap in the trees, but eventually decided it was too risky for a fall or twisted ankle in the uneven, invisible ground beneath my feet.

WILD RADDISH

Yesterday, my walk took me over to Pipemakers Park and the Tuesday morning garden volunteering group.  The Park Ranger (I’d met in Newell’s Paddock Wetlands and Conservation area) had told me about this group and remembered me as soon as I walked up to where they were working.  I met the small group of 5 volunteers and was shown around the ruins of the historic old pipe workers garden and where they had cleared all the paths, cut down the overgrown shrubs and started re-planting some of the herb garden in recent weeks.

Apparently, one third (roughly) will be indigenous plants from the past (before white colonists settled the area in the early 1800s), the central third will be a restoration of the pipe worker’s original herb garden between the mosaic paths…….and the other third will be planted with modern garden plants.

Now I know their plans for restoration and replanting, I can either join the Tuesday morning group (unlikely as I get up too late), join one of the volunteers who does more weeding on Friday afternoons OR just go over any time and do whatever I can to help.  I’ve decided to give it a try and see if my lower back pain will allow me to stretch (and get some exercise too).  I really do need a new hobby or something to do in the fresh air.  I seem to photograph the same birds and scenes all the time on my recent walks and I need a new interest that is close to home.

 

I’ve had a 2 lots of lumbar spine surgery, so not sure how much I can do.  In the past I’ve found weeding and gardening a good way to stretch my back and surprisingly, I always feel good after a couple of hours of light gardening.  The photos below were made before the Volunteering group started the project.  The Green Army had weeded the bluestone-edged Herb Garden though.  The Green Army was an initiative by the Government to employ about 15,000 unemployed, or homeless (?) youth to do gardening and environmental restoration work around the country, but the Park Ranger was telling me, they only ended up with about 5,000 workers and some of the initiative has now been abandoned by the Government due to lack of funding.

Shame about that.  The Green Army still exists, but much depleted.

(note: there are still groups of volunteers who maintain the many green spaces found throughout our suburbs and country towns, especially on the river flats first explored in the early 1800s before towns and cities were established in Australia).

 

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12 thoughts on “A DISAPPOINTING SHORT WALK

  1. This was a very informative post, Vicki. You are really fortunate to be so close to the reserve. I took heart about your comments about so many people who volunteer to help with the upkeep of the parks and preserves. Perhaps there is hope for us after all!

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    1. There is definitely hope for maintaining our green urban spaces in particular, Terry, but there are so many people (unemployed youth?) who seem to take great delight in dumping their used bottles, drink cans and paper rubbish/plastic bags all over the streets and vacant plots of land. Even in the garden ruins, the Park Ranger showed me where old wooden fences had been broken and the mosaics trashed.

      Of course hot summer sun shining through broken bottles are the start of many bush fires.

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      1. I see rubbish along the roadways here too and just don’t understand why it’s there. There’s also a sharp distinction between simply littering and intentionally damaging places. It’s significant too that once I hike even a quarter mile up a steep trail, the rubbish problem no longer exists. I live in a rural area though and therefore don’t know what it is like in the cities or urban parks around here.

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    2. I remember in 1975 it was a $500 fine to drop litter in Singapore (for example) and I think it might be worth trying to catch some of the ‘dumpers’ and ‘litterers’ here. I visited Singapore in both 1975 (on a 3 week Asian tour) and late 1976 (on the way home from London) and remarked to an Asian friend how clean the streets were.

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  2. It is a sad reflection of our life style that no matter where you live on this planet that there is no money today to do all the so called little things that would make life so much better. Paths and walkways are either left to there own devises or handed to volunteer organisation to manage (and they too have to raise funds) We also have to me the rather stupid situation where new well intentioned facilities are built with the help of Lotto money but after construction there is not the money stream to maintain them. Not sure what the solution is…..we have ‘Friends of ‘ volunteers in many of our wild areas and parks, they do great jobs but even then they tend to wither away due to lack of support, specialist tools are not easily available and no real management direction. …… they work hard and little praise. Yet this is the 21st century.

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    1. You make a valid point David.
      I must say the ‘Friends of Newells Paddock” mentioned in previous posts do an amazing job with the Wetlands Conservation further downriver, but the volunteer group I met yesterday in Pipemakers Park seemed to have plenty of enthusiasm, but few funds to work with.

      Small nature reserves, which could well bring in money in Tourism OR encourage the locals to bring their children to gain an appreciation of the native flora and fauna, fall at the bottom of the local council budget too.

      The volunteers I met yesterday were talking about the many other volunteer groups which they belong to in the whole river valley, so I presume they are all filled with enthusiasm, retired and/or who are willing to make long-time commitments to the nature reserves further upriver. I’d happily volunteer more time if I had the health, physical fitness……….and a car. (On the other hand, if I had good health and fitness, I’d still be working full-time and probably not have the time). The best I can do is press a camera button or pick up some rubbish which abounded the grassy slope between my apartment block and Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve. Interestingly enough, I cleared an enormous bag of litter and plastic bottles between my apartment and the nature reserve about 2 months ago as well as a bit of weed clearing. I noticed that this area has been kept pretty tidy since. So maybe others have followed my example.

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      1. I think the key point you make that is so often overlooked is that the ‘volunteers’ are volunteers of more than one group. In our part of the world they seem to be of an age and health reduces the head count each year. But sadly it does appear that it lack of encouragement and acknowledgment that they are in fact doing something important that they really miss. So who can blame them for dropping out. Sad. So many opportunities are missed.

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    1. Thanks Pete.

      Those Red-browed finches are lovely. Sadly, this is the closest I’ve ever got to them.

      I’ve been photographing them (and the Red-rumped Parrots & Splendid Fairy-wrens) in the empty low-lying field next door to the gravel walking path, but they all hop about continuously and hard to follow them trying to get a shot with a heavy lens. If I could get closer, the lightweight Sony a6000 would be ideal with it’s 11 fps.

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  3. There were many brilliant photos Vicki but also some great comments. I believe that the problems expressed here are caused by massive urbanisation. We no longer have a sense of community. “The Government should fix that problem.” or “It isn’t my responsibility” or “It’s too big.” or a hundred other excuses. And if so then we are all to blame.

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