Due diligence

Occasionally the rain upstream is so torrential that the is turned creek the colour of milky coffee. This morning it was heavy with sediment, a slurry of washed-out topsoil from Kotara, New Lambton, Broadmeadow and beyond.

In spite of the rain it’s surprisingly littery. The litter seems mostly to be stuff discarded from the Newcastle Show on the weekend: balloons, drink cups and bottles, balloons, food wrappers, balloons.

And … er … dog baskets. Perhaps it was a rejected entry from the weaving section in the Hall of Industry.

On my way back from watching the ducks by the TAFE I got chatting to the young bloke from ERM, the mob contracted by Shell to carry out its “due diligence” work; that is, checking how crappy the creek is at any particular time. The tide was on the rise and we both laughed: he’d had one eye upstream worrying about being washed away by raging floodwater when – barzingah! – a tidal surge from Throsby Creek had him packing up his Eski and scuttling back up towards Chatham Road bridge.

And what was this? More hi-viz! A graffiti clean-up team was working on the bankings. Apparently there had been complaints from the good folk of Newcastle who, parking in Richardson Park for the Show, were affronted by a veritable gallery of horrid tags. Yuk! I can’t help thinking that, in removing one type of graffiti, we were getting another. Some clever artists have made an art form of reverse graffiti; in fact, you can still see a neat bit of reverse graffiti on King Street, sponsored by the Pride of Place Taskforce.

By evening things had calmed down, the hi-viz had packed up and gone home. I was walking under the bridge when Old Mate cooeed out to me. If he calls out to me that’s fine, but I never call out to him – it would be like barging into someone’s bedroom. But tonight we had a yak. Every now and then he comes for a walk with us, me and Jambo, and tonight was one of those nights. (That’s him, just about to hop over the beck.) We had one of our usual broad-ranging and eclectic conversations. I never know quite what to expect.

People often ask me about Old Mate. How is he? What’s he up to? Is he still there? I can assure you: he’s well, he’s up to the same old stuff, and he’s certainly still here. I like to keep an eye out, you see. It’s my due diligence.

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