An explanation at last


I went to see Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams at the Newcastle Film Society on Sunday night. The images from the Chauvet Caves in France, thousands and thousands of years old, were spectacular, absolutely breathtaking. I wonder if my eyes were opened to new visions by seeing the film, because the next morning I saw this piece of repaired concrete in the creekbed, which I’ve walked over countless times before, and immediately thought of the paintings of the Chauvet cave lions. Perhaps it was the chance placement of a dead leaf that made an eye; I minute earlier or later and wouldn’t have seen it.

And here’s a photo of a spider, for no other reason than that I nearly walked into it and it scared the bejaysus out of me.

On Anzac Day evening I addressed the Booklovers, a group of people who meet every month at Cooks Hill Books. Derby Street just after dark was full of young men with the unfocused eyes and wobbly gait that’s a direct consequence of overdoing your remembrance. I cool wind blew in off the harbour and I wondered whether anyone would turn up to hear me prattle on about the creek and A Year Down the Drain.

I needn’t have worried; there was a good turn out and extra chairs had to be dug out from the back room. And apart from having a good conversation about books and drains I learned, at last, just what it is that I’m doing wrong by being in the creek.

I’ve been told many times that walking in there is illegal. However, when I’ve fronted up to Hunter Water’s offices and asked exactly what law I’m breaking I haven’t found anyone who’s been able to tell me. Explanations are garbled and convoluted; I know that Newcastle City Council have the rights and responsibilities over some of the creeks, Hunter Water over the others, and that there are various agreements and easements that allow NCC and HW to allow buildings and developments to take place over covered drains. But there isn’t, as far as I know, a map that a member of the public can go to to find out exactly who has rights over what.

This dog, for example, and his skateboard, is a CRIMINAL but does not even know it.

And this ballooon!

Seriously, I finally found out that this stretch of the Styx is held in freehold title by Hunter Water. It has a DP number (is that the correct term?) and a lot number. It’s private land, from the bankings down to the bed, and so to walk in there is equivalent to walking into someone’s back yard. Not all of the Styx is like this, and many of its tributaries are treated differently, but that’s the basic information that applies to the bit that I’ve been toddling along twice a day for several years.

It was like a great weight had been lifted from shoulders. At last I know what I’m doing wrong! Hooray.

Having said that, it won’t stop me, at least it won’t until I get the summons.

Finally, a photo taken on the way home from pub quiz at the Gateway last night, one of the last trains into Hamilton from Telarah. My eyes were as blurry as those young guys staggering up and down Derby Street on Wednesday. We came second and I won an ice bucket in the raffle. Apparently the person who delivers the meat trays didn’t turn up. Does anyone want an ice bucket?