Change is a comin’


Winter was wet, but not cold. We had one particularly chilly Thursday the other week when even I wasn’t shouting at the kids to turn that bloody heater off and put on a jumper, but other than that it’s been mild, mild, mild.

There’s still plenty of time for backwards steps and icy blasts but there are also signs that spring is just starting to uncoil herself. I heard figbirds in the trees in Richardson Park, though for one day only. Perhaps they’re the forward lines of the summer migrants and are now squabbling around in Sydney or Wollongong. Then there was a gorgeous Boreas Road sunset one evening.


There are more raptors in the gasworks – kites, falcons and hawks – so there must be more of the burrowing and creeping stuff that makes up the base of the food pyramid. Jambo has started scaring the bejesus out of the ducklings in the creek, and the wattles are blooming …


… and the fuchsias, the ones left over from the days when a manager lived on the grounds and kept a garden.


The bamboo grass in the gasworks is tall and bent and dry and needs a good fire through it, though I doubt the people at ELGAS would agree. There was a big fire up at Hexham the other night, which looked pretty speccy from where I was standing.


People are getting out and about too. More footprints and cycle tracks down the creek, holes reappearing in the chain-link fence around the gasworks, and even folk out for a Sunday promenade. These blokes had just read The Book and were making themselves acquainted with the lovely botanical gardens on their doorstep. 


Yes, a change is a comin’. Dig out your shorts and pluggers: it’ll be baking before you know it.

The existential terrier


It’s only when I look at the photos in the folder on my desktop (the “Holding pen”) that themes emerge. This week the theme has been “Jambo pondering stuff”.

I have to say that “Jambo pondering XXXX” makes a picture more interesting. Take, for example, this dumped piece of electronic equipment:


It’s intriguing. I ask myself: “How did it get there? What is it off? Why was it dumped?” But a thing with Jambo pondering it is somehow more …  Jambo-ish. What is going on in that tiny, peanut-sized brain of his?


This toy metal horse. “How?” he wonders. “Why? Is it old? An antique? Where’s the knight or cowboy that belongs to it? Is someone looking for it? Was it lost by children playing in the creek fifty years ago and only now dislodged and washed downstream?” These are the questions Jambo asks himself.


“This packet of My Dog: it is empty? Why? Who got there before me? Why does that dog on the packet look like me, but whiter? Why are all dogs whiter than me, even black dogs? Do I need a bath? Am I alone in the universe? Is it dinnertime yet?”


So many questions. Poor Jambo.



In a recent post, not long after having got back from a holiday in England, I wrote something along the lines of “not much has changed down the creek while I was away”. That seemed true until I looked at this photo* that I’d taken of an egret probing amongst the incoming tide.


God, it looks filthy. Have I become so inured to the creek’s dirtiness that I couldn’t even see how bad it’s become? Did I think that that looked “all right”?

It was obviously time to recalibrate and get my settings readjusted, so a couple of weekends ago I headed up to Ash Island and the Kooragang Wetlands.


What a beautiful place this. What a testament to the vision, commitment and hard work of a bunch of great people, people who saved this tract of land, restored it and created a corner of paradise from “a bit of swamp”. Just look at all these baby mangroves poking up. Or maybe they’re not baby mangroves, they’re the uppity root things, they’re the … oh, stop now.


Then, from the glorious islands of the Hunter River, I went upstream to Dungog the following weekend for a couple of days at the beautiful Wangat Lodge. We’ve been going here on the first weekend in August with a group of families for some years, and it’s the perfect place to recharge the batteries and remind yourself what “pristine” actually means.


This is Jerusalem Creek, a tributary of the Chichester River. The photos barely do it justice as it was utterly gorgeous.


So now I can get down the drain again and see it as it really is: filthy, disgusting, polluted, stinky, trashed and … and … the place I love to go every day. Go figure!

* I nearly wrote “developed this photo”. Like, when was the last time I went to the chemist to pick up a roll of snaps?!