Countless times I’ve found myself in the creek staring up as a train rattles past from Newcastle to Telarah or back again. In the morning or late afternoon, which is generally when I walk Jambo, the carriages are full of commuters reading their books or iPads or newspapers, or staring glumly with their chin cupped in their hand. If anyone does see me I wonder if they’re wondering “What the hell is he doing down there?”
On Saturday I had the rare opportunity to be the face on the train staring down into the creek. It was Groovin the Moo day at Maitland and, in time-honoured tradition, I got the train up from Hamilton Station with the Young Folk. I must have looked a bit odd as we neared the creek, taking photos of all my favourite landmarks: the gas tower with POAS and CUBE on it; the points shelter; the rail easement.
And finally – TA DAH! – Styx Creek.
And then Clyde Street. It was nice to be on the side causing the queue rather than in it.
But it’s not just the Young Folk who are creative and inspiring. On Sunday I got to mix it up with a different but equally inspiring generation. I’d had a call from Allan and Pamela Carruthers as Pam wanted a copy of the book for Allan. The Carruthers own a property in Kotara South that backs onto the Styx, very near its headwaters. Allan’s a real goer and has led a bush regeneration project in his street, drawing in his neighbours and Newcastle City Council’s Bushcare team to help him tackle a patch of what used to be lantana and bramble.
His efforts are remarkable; the lantana’s been beaten back and massive numbers of indigenous natives have been planted. The creek’s once again become home to wrens, water dragons and a red-bellied black snake called Sam, and is visited by some of the larger prey animals, such as powerful owls and peregrine falcons, that base themselves in nearby Blackbutt Reserve.
One of the Bushcare team reckon that this is not natural tearing in the bark of this turpentine, below, but is a scar tree, a tree that’s had bark removed in the recently ancient past by Aboriginal people to make a coolamon or shield. All this and barely a kilometre from Garden City!
Such fun. Thanks, Steve and Rod, for GTM. And thanks, Allan and Pamela, for showing me your corner of the Styx.