Blissful, good-to-be-alive autumn mornings.


The creek’s quiet at the moment. We’re in the seasonal change-over when ducklings have either fledged, grown and gone their way or become fox fodder. (Cue Simba, Mustafa and The Circle of Life.) The rain may have dispersed the aquatic birds too; there have been fewer cormorants, darters or herons down by the TAFE litter boom or stalking the beck’s edge.

Speaking of the rains, here are a couple of before-and-after pictures I received from Stephen Rigby, of Port Waratah Coal Service, that show the clean-up that PWCS staff carried out in the Carrington mangroves. Can you tell which is “before”?



The guys did a great job, but don’t worry, Stephen. The people of Newcastle are always up for a challenge and are already working hard to refill this proud city’s waterways with crap, detritus and toxic filth.


Never let it be said that Novocastrians cannot or will not rise to the occasion. This is our town and these are our drains, and we’ll fuck em up awesomely more betterer than what anyone else could fuck their drains up. Yeah!


Look, some brave soul’s even taken managed to dump yards and yards of asbestos packaging. This is the kind of effort that requires major commitment. Respect. (Not sure where the actual asbestos is; check the road outside your nearest childcare centre.)


And let’s pause to acknowledge the anonymous legion of trolley dumpers. In the glamour world of fly-tipping and mess-making this hardy crew are often overlooked. Yet they go about their work, quietly, diligently, neither looking for nor seeking praise. Go, you good things.


Oh, and cupcakes! How could I forget cupcakes? Give it up, peeps, for for their sweet, spongy, goodness! (OK, so they not really toxic or polluting but, well, still.)


It’s all so wonderful and glorious and makes me feel, inside, all … what’s that word? I know! It’s  …


Too slow


The creek’s been too wet and slippery lately, even my patent “zombie-steps” walking style isn’t guaranteed to keep from doing a hilarious Keystone Kops-style, feet-in-the-air face plant. So it’s been the burbs for me and Jambo. Or, at least The Burb. This guy on Gow Street was most unimpressed when Jambo cocked a leg against on his fence. I just love his Victor Meldrew-like sense of indignation. “I don’t believe it!”

These guys looked more dangerous than the heeler. Careful, Jambo. There’s just something about crows …

We finally got down the creek the other day.

Prawn heads are something of a feature by the Chatham Road bridge. It seems to be the deal: you get your prawns, eat them and then drop the bag of heads over the parapet. It’s regular and I wonder why. Is it a ritual someone has? I know of some people who toast the guy who drowned in the 2007 floods at this bridge by chucking a few cans over for him when they pass. Maybe there’s someone who comes here to remember their great-grandad, a prawn-trawler man from way back. Or perhaps it’s just some feckless TAFE student.

I’m inclined towards the latter, though the quality of the rubbish has taken a decidedly queer turn lately. Folk are always lobbing stuff off the bridge, but this, for instance, is different. It had been all neatly bagged up and the top tied, then taken down into the creek and carefully propped up against a stanchion. Like, WTF? Do they think the council will come down there and pick it up for them? If you can be arsed to get down into the creek then why can’t you be arsed to take it to the nearest bin?

As Yoda might have said, “Cranky, was I”. So now your crap’s in my bin.

Luckily, this chap cheered me up. He’s still around! Yay duckie!

Oops, who’s dog is that?

The rabbits in the gasworks have thinned out. Winter’s taken its toll on the young, the lame and ones with a bit of mixy or calicivirus. The grass has deadened off and so it’s very brown, apart from the sudden greenness of Scotch thistles.

Because of work my afternoon walks have been starting later and later in the day, setting off at dusk and often not getting back till well after dark. The gasworks at night is a different place, interesting. Coming back up the creek I could see the amber glow of a small fire, up towards the bridge by the crossing to the EntCent. It was an attempted Molotov cocktail, at least I think it was. If it was then it was pretty lame, what my kids would describe as an “epic fail”. It just lay there, burning. With no masked rioter to be seen. What? Why? Who?

This morning was foggy and the bottle was gone.

We wandered downstream, and while I filled Old Mate in on the weekend’s football results, Jambo found himself a swirly ball.

As we rounded the bend we came across a scene of everyday life in the Styx. The train from Telarah had stopped across the creek, as it sometimes decides to do for no apparent reason. A couple of lads with cans took the opportunity; one lad made a mask from his T-shirt and got his Ironlak ready, mounted the pipe and was about get up and do whatever it is teenagers do when they have a train in front of them and a can of spray paint in their hand. But then, at the crucial moment, the train juddered into life and pulled away.

I arrived on the opposite bank as the train trundled off to Hamilton Station. They watched it wistfully, and turning and seeing me, one of them shrugged and shouted, “Too slow!”

Perhaps it was the stretch of water between us but they didn’t seem at all fazed by my stern, commanding presence. As authority figures go I’m obviously at the “No threat whatsoever” end of the scale. I blame Jambo. No one can look fierce and authoritative when they’re walking a cairn terrier.

No doubt they’ll get it next time.