Down by the Creek

My morning walk

The little creek near my house is my favourite walking route. Once it was an important thoroughfare for the Wadawurrung people — from the Bay to the waterholes which are the only permanent fresh water in the area. They called the creek Gurnang.

After ‘settlement’ (i.e. theft) of the lands around Port Phillip Bay (Narrm Narrm) by British colonists from 1835 onwards, our peninsula was largely cleared of native vegetation and became an important agricultural hinterland for the bustling port city of Geelong.

When my wife and I came to this area in 2002, the creek, now known as Griggs Creek, was a weed-choked seasonal trickle of water on the edge of town, bordering low-grade pasturage with a few cattle dotted across it.

I’m no great fan of urban sprawl, and was concerned to discover that plans were afoot to build 3,000 dwellings on the other side of the creek — in effect, a brand-new township.

In the event, this well-planned development has brought both recreational and environmental benefits to our community.

Where there was once a gullied cow paddock, there are neat streets of houses — but also wetlands teeming with life. A walking and cycling track winds through parklands planted with indigenous shrubs and trees to the Bay and a perfect view of the You Yangs peaks on the opposite shore.

Wildlife audits revealed just how much was hidden under the alien boxthorn and willow: 143 species of indigenous fauna have been identified in the creek area. These include 17 mammals, 110 birds, nine reptiles and seven frogs.

Gurnang, revegetated and revitalised, is at the heart of our expanded community, no longer on the margin.

These are some snapshots from my 40-minute morning walk.

Life both ancient and new — a two-hundred-year-old River Red Gum by the new childcare centre
Sculptures by Glen Romanis, Mark Trinham et al. reflect the Aboriginal and natural history of our area
Carved bench detail and metal sculpture wall
Wetland pavillion
‘Nardoo’ sculpture — the wetlands teem with frogs!
You Yangs hills are in sight!
This sculpture makes me think of the sea, the wind, and of course, sea shells!
Gurnang enters Port Phillip Bay / Narrm Narrm

I acknowledge the Wadawurrung people of the Kulin nation as the traditional custodians of this land and pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Text and images © 2021 Steve Fendt. All rights reserved.

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