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  …


The herd is on the move


Seasonal changes. There were king tides at the end of last year. The threat of a king tide at night contains the possibility of scary excitement, of floods and carnage, but mid morning, just after a leisurely home-brewed coffee, it rather loses its menace. Me and dog wandered down for a sticky beak. It was indeed impressive, coming right up past Chatham Road bridge. But not menacing.


Strangely, the high tide was matched by very low tides. Is this what happens?

I was late getting out at night, in fact it was almost dark by the time we got to the gasworks. The sun was setting over the Entertainment Centre. You really would think I’d have gotten the hang of lining up my shots by now. I mean, there’s this perfectly straight line going right up and down the middle and still I stuff it up. One of the trillion reasons why I’m not a photographer.


Speaking of the gasworks, there are hardly any rabbits around at the moment. Just before Christmas I found this dead one on the creek bed, which was a bit unusual. An adult, it bore no signs of it being attacked, no pussy, diseased eyes or bleeding nose. Then this one.


There are always dead things, of course, especially in spring and summer.


Spring and early summer is the time of year when all kinds of babies are being born and, as is Nature’s wont, the vast majority don’t make it to adulthood.


These baby trollies hatched recently. Sadly, none of them will every roll freely around the supermarket aisles, gather with the rest of the herd by the checkouts, find a mate and bring new trolley life into the world. It’s tough, the life of a trolley.


This one got caught attempting to cross the creek at high tide. Poor thing.


But the herd moves on. The herd will repopulate in the vast savannahs of Waratah Village, Officeworks and Franklins car park. Many more will come, and many more will fail to cross the …

What AM I going on about? I think my brain’s still on holiday.

Peppa Pig hits the airwaves


I had the extraordinary pleasure of spending half an hour in the company of ABC Radio’s Richard Fidler. Richard was in Newcastle for ABC 1233’s Night At The Wireless and held some of his Conversations with people from round these parts; it’s worth following up the link and listening to the podcasts.

But after my brief moment of fame it was back to work, and back down the drain. The onshore wind is blowing the litter into places it rarely goes. The little stream that’s officially knowns as Chaucer Street Drain (but is, in fact, the original Styx Creek) is choked at the point where it joins the Styx proper. I know that Dave and the crew will be out on Friday but their workload’s ridiculous and they can only do so much.

They must have pulled these trollies out the other day. Franklins closed down and was replaced by Richie’s IGA; there’s a trolley from each which is a kind of trolley equivalent of the way that Time Team dates trenches. “This shard of pottery’s from the late Roman period!” Phil will declare, and immediately they’ll conjure up an entire history for some sodden patch of Pommie Land.

One of the things that Richard asked about was creek graffiti. The stuff down the drain tends, on the whole, to be of poor quality. The concrete bankings are palimpsests, constantly painted over and over, but with very little forward development or improvement in quality. When kids do get to a certain stage of ambition, that’s when they hit Your Suburb. But, till then, they make blah like this.

I saw the young lad who made this blah the other day, slithering along the wet silt towards the railway bridge, and knew straight away what he was up to. He tried to make himself scarce but there’s no fooling Wile E. Coyote. I look forward, young man, to watching you improve.

I found a pig, too. My kids are too old for cartoons but for some reason I think that this might be Peppa Pig.

Why do I know it’s Peppa and not Pepper? I have no idea. It’s just another piece of dross that’s taking up space in my brain, space that could be filled by something useful such as … um … yeah.

Out nabout


Some days it’s lovely and quiet down the creek; other days, it’s like Pitt Street at lunchtime. I know that this pic doesn’t exactly illustrate the kind of frenzied pedestrianised activity that I’m alluding to, but it was, well, a bit busy the other day. Three lads on bicycles, a couple of dog walkers, and these guys with their ute.

There seems to have been increased monitoring of the water around the creek and the gasworks recently, or perhaps I’ve just noticed it more. Certainly Jemena have pulled their finger out but, really, the gasworks is so totally cream-crackered that I wonder what they expect to discover with all their testing. That it’s getting cleaner?

It didn’t rain for a couple of weeks, which seems like a record after all that La Nina behaviour of the last year or so. It really is amazing, when the rain stops, how quickly the crap builds up. I wonder: is it good to have masses of crap in the creek because it hasn’t been washed away, or have a nice clean creek because it has been washed away? That’s a bit like “Would you rather be blind or deaf?” I know, but there you go.


It did rain again a few days ago, bringing a small harvest of trolleys downstream. But I believe we’re in for a hot, dry summer – or so They say. It’ll be interesting to see the flow-on effects around the rail lines and the gasworks. At the moment there are lots of predators around (hawks, foxes, cats), which indicates a healthy base to the food pyramid. But if the weather dries up I imagine that there’ll be less bunnies and ducklings and other tasty fox treats.

There is also the Baird Street factor. Baird Street is, for the purpose of TomTom and Google Maps, a regular street in Hamilton North. We residents, however, know that Baird Street occupies the fractal zone between to wormholes, each with their own massive anti-gravitational pull. The result is that Baird Street is in both Hamilton North AND the saturated tropics of Far North Queensland at the same time.

How else could Baird Street have such a healthy crop of bamboo …

… AND bananas!

I rest my case.