Pack away the ark

29/01/2013

It was a hell of a rain, and while parts of Queensland and northern New South Wales are still struggling with rising river levels we here in Newcastle didn’t cop it too badly. Styx Creek filled very steadily then drained very steadily. By Tuesday afternoon the downstream flow went from bank to bank, but only to a few inches.

I went for a sticky beak with Jambo this morning. He’d been confined to barracks for two days and went berko, charging up and down, swimming across the creek then back again, burning up all that latent energy. We hit the junction with the Chaucer Street drain about 9.30 am, just as the tide was peaking. What a sight!

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An iPhone hardly does it justice, but the tide at this point normally comes up in exhausted pulses. True, it’s still quite a sight as the saltwater merges with the fresh, but it’s usually just beck wide. This was bank to bank, really pushing in hard. The pulses were close together too, barely two minutes apart.

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It really is hard to believe that just a few days ago we were all lolling around under the ceiling fan or staggering about in a heat-induced torpor. When I was having my evening walk just before the weekend I bumped into this family who were, like me, benefitting from the cool breeze that always blows down the creek even on the hottest days. And, of course, they didn’t have to cross all those busy main roads on their way back to New Lambton. Vicki would approve!

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The same night, about a hundred yards downstream, I came across this recently departed eel. What a whopper! It can’t have been dead all that long and bore no signs of having been attacked by a bird of prey. Its skin was beautiful.

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I’ve only ever eaten eel once, at the Japanese restaurant by the harbour, and it was delicious. I wasn’t tempted to take this fella home though.

It turned out to be a night of dead stuff. We came across a rat up near Chatham Road bridge, a very unlucky rat as Jambo’s DNA kicked in and he immediately did what ratting dogs are supposed to do. It was short, sharp and severe. If I said “No rats suffered in the making of this photo” I would be telling very large fibs. There was a fair degree of squealing for a few seconds then … silence. And one very pleased terrier, who wanted to carry it all the way home. I don’t think so.

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Not the happiest ending for Ratty. But I suppose that that’s two less animals for the ark, next time we’re faced with a deluge.

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Call that a drain?

27/11/2012

That’s a drain!

It’s not just any drain, it’s the Moonee Ponds creek in Melbourne, with the City Link running over the top. I’m not sure what the big red things are: art installation or plastic bag catchers. This great pic was sent in by expat Novocastrian and former drain rambler Ken, who was back in his old stomping ground recently and took his lad down the drains near Waratah Park. It’s excellent that our drainy heritage is being passed on to the next generation.

The creek’s been quietly lately: no students taking short cuts to the TAFE, no quad bikers, no dog walkers (apart from me and Jambo). The clean-up squad’s been and gone; I missed Dave and the boys but the mountain of plastic that had built up has been taken away.

Which is very timely, as the Australian Marine Conservation Society is running an anti-plastics campaign at the moment. Called “Like diamonds: plastics are forever”, it reminds us that “every piece of plastic we have ever used is still on the planet today”. You can donate to their campaign here.

I don’t think this eel died from ingesting plastic, unless he ate a ruler. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an eel so straight.

This blue-tongue was laid out pretty straight too. Not sure if he lost his tail in a fight with a dog or if it was snapped off after he drowned.

 

I mentioned recently that the coal tar in the old gasworks had been on the move since the warm weather kicked in. Here’s a nice example. This liquid ooze popped forth from the ground when I was walking round there the other day.

I felt like Jed Clampett, though I wasn’t as pleased to see this “Texas tea” as he was!


Three dead eels and a drowned rat

27/12/2011

Well, it’s not exactly gold, frankincense and myrrh, but the creek did offer some gifts for Christmas.

Went for a walk on Boxing Day. It was sticky humid. The wind that had brought the trash up the creek on Christmas Day had died down but the concrete was littered with manmade grunge. Among the trash were other more interesting natural spectacles; certainly more dead eels than I’ve seen at the same time for ages.

This rat was decorated with the most beautifully bejewelled flies: rich emeralds and sapphire blues.

Another bauble turned up to remind me that the festive season isn’t over yet. It sat nestled next to an empty Tooheys New bottle, the plastic goose from a few days ago, a used syringe and a boogie board. If I was that way talented and inclined I’d make a carol about that. On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me …

The thunderheads rolled in at about seven o’clock in the evening and sent the whole lot washing down and away. I’m kind of relieved as the creek was looking really (I mean really) sad, but my relief’s tempered with the knowledge that all that hideous crap is now bobbing around in someone else’s stretch of the river.