… different issues. Or maybe, the same issues in differently coloured wrapping paper.
A friend from Alice Springs days keeps me up to date with the news from Centralia. A popular quiz night question is “Name the river that runs through Wilcannia / Dubbo / Kempsey” etc.; it’s one that often trips people, but a good proportion of Australians know that it’s the Todd that runs through the middle of Alice Springs.
The Todd River still has its natural, sandy bed and its 500-year-old gum trees, thanks mainly to the foresight of Mounted Constable WG South who, a century ago, saved them from being axed by the newly arrived colonists looking for building materials and firewood. South wrote to the Minister for the Northern Territory “The trees are a great ornament to the place and it would be a great pity to destroy them”. The trees are still under immense pressure, these days from a suite of threats including sand mining, firewood collection and root impaction by vehicles, but South’s foresight has ensured that these beautiful old giants still guard the waterway.
However, the Todd River is, for many people, a place of short-term residence. As the major service town for the Red Centre, Alice attracts people from miles and miles around, people who often don’t have a bed or a room for the night. Among this group is some of the most committed and prodigious drinkers in the world. A recent collection by a small group of people found, in a 200 metre stretch of the river, the following small mountain of casks and bottles.
Check out the website of the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition to find out more.
Meanwhile, over in Los Angeles, USA, there have been concerted efforts over the last few years to rehabilitate the Los Angeles River (view a whole stack of articles via Planetizen here). One major advance was to have the entire 51-mile river recognsied as a navigable waterway by kayakers who made it from top to bottom; there’s a five-minute video on the Los Angeles Times website of the tours that now operate there. (If you have time to noodle around on Tinterweb then check out the blog of the LA Creek Freak people and LA Stormwater.)
The Planetizen site also links to articles on the Los Angeles City Council’s recent approval of an update to the Los Angeles River Implementation Overlay to encourage good quality river-centric development and to begin removing some of the concrete that covers the river and its banks.
It’s all food for thought, some of it heartening and some of it less so. But it is a reminder that waterways are living places that people the world over are attracted to, love and want to care for.
Just like Styx Creek. I mean, how nice is this?