On the waterfront


I thought that the rain we got the other week would result in a banker but it was such a slow, steady fall that the creek just rose, nice and slowly, and then fell, nice and slowly. The kind of rain the farmers love.

I always have mixed feelings about rain after a prolonged dry period. The creek gets so clogged up with gunk and rubbish that it’s kind of cathartic to have it all swept away by one huge, cleansing flood. But then I know that all the crap has just been shunted down to Carrington mangroves, or the harbour, or the beach.


It’s still … THERE … even though I can’t see it.


There was an article in the Herald about the OdysSea group, who are encouraging people to litter-pick along the beaches. They’re great, those young folk, and I must admit I rather  envy them. The beaches are so iconic and so beautiful that it seems like a no brainer to ask help keep them clean and for people to respond. The creeks just don’t have that same emotional kicker. I pick stuff up but, let’s be frank, I ain’t gonna make much of a dent in this lot. And anyway, it’s just the drain.


Sometimes I don’t pick things up, deliberately. Big Ted, here. He’s not going to be accidentally swallowed by a cormorant or a turtle. Where will he go? Who will find him?


Not far, as it turned out. He staggered ashore down by the TAFE, still wet, a few days later. Don’t know where he is now.


Other things are just too elusive to pick up. This sign, from a car yard, teased me for at least two weeks, always bobbing up and down with the tide, always a good couple of metres offshore. Come and get me! Nyaah!


As well as the litter pollution the creek’s been suffering from the subterranean movement of oils, tars and residues from the gasworks and the petrol depot. This always speeds up when the warmer weather arrives; September isn’t just the month of koels and channel-billed cuckoos, it’s the month of gaseous miasmas and heady, bituminous pongs …


… and intriguing canisters of unknown origin that are impossibly tempting to your average cairn terrier.


But if I’m feeling slack and not picking up, the creek will always send me a reminder of why I should do the right thing. Saturday morning and, as the tide turned and pulled the bottles and cans and cigarette ends and lumps of polystyrene foam and nerf bullets and tennis balls and busted thongs out and down and away towards the harbour, this sad sight drifted past me. Another cormorant casualty. A young, healthy-looking bird. What had it swallowed? What had gotten caught and twisted in its gut?


Get my bag. Pick it up. Even you, Big Ted. Even you.


Autumn noodling


A glorious autumn day, the kind that makes you feel glad to be alive. The grass-cutting crew was out and about.

Huge clouds of swallows swoop around the tidal pool. There have been large squadrons of black and great cormorants on the litter boom but in the last few days they’ve all gone, to be replaced by one or two little pied cormorants. I’m not sure whether the pieds prefer saltwater to the brackish and fresh water but I rarely see them this far upstream. But I did see this lonely Ug boot.

Here’s the answer to one of the missing cormorants. I didn’t see it; of course it was Jambo who sniffed it out. It’s been dead a while and, from a distance, blended perfectly into the bleached dead stems of a lantana bush laid flat by blades of the tractor slasher.

I also found a lucky rabbit’s foot. I’ll bet the three-legged rabbit it belongs to doesn’t feel very lucky.

On the way back, a tale of contrast. Firstly, this little sprig of broccoli. (Sprig? Node? Nub? Clove? Nodule? Stalk? Stem? Please advise.) I’ve seen just about everything in the creek but this little piece of bright green vegetable just looked plain weird. It was so bright and fresh!

And so, secondly, this inspection cap. Not only did it have the usual spangled, tarry, bituminous gump coming out but today a sick-looking kind of frothy ooze.

The benefits of working for myself are many. I can go to aikido at lunchtime, for a start, though the down side is that it can cut a two-hour hole in my day by the time I’ve cycled there, been flogged around, gotten home, showered and back in front of the glowing monitor. I had to catch up on a job and I was late finishing, and so late walking Jambo.

Dusk fell on the gasworks just as we arrived. This picture doesn’t do it justice but the gloaming through the seed heads of the grasses created a mauve carpet that hovered three feet above the earth, foregrounding a spectacular sunset pierced by a single vapour trail.

It’s soon dark in May; a quick circuit and we were in darkness, without even the waning Super Moon to guide us. Just the floodlights in the ELGAS depot.

A cold change is forecast. I’ll soon be pining for days like these.