Wednesday, April 3, 2013


We took a family walk yesterday and encountered this.  Go kids.  
 Our eco-action was a little more surreptitious, we brought a bag and filled it with rubbish (we could have filled 10), you can count on finding garbage strewn around our local reservoir. A friend's boy got a nasty cut (requiring stitches) from walking on broken glass in the water here. The middle Bowerbird wanted to know why there was so much rubbish at the reservoir. Where to begin. We often dismiss such stupid behaviour as caused by Grumkins.  We read the Yowie series of books created by Bryce Courtney and Geoff Pike to our eldest when travelling around Australia, and the characters have lived on. It's kind of cool because you can be around real life Grumkins and they don't speak the lingo, and there-for don't know you are talking about them. Someone picking native flora, "there's a grumkin over there", someone taking illegal firewood - "looks like a grumkin" .... you get the idea. Do you remember the Cadbury Yowies? They were like a Kinder Surprise only Australian, and filled with all our weird and wonderful animals. No nature enthusiast was without a collection in the late 1990s, a whole lot of consumerism, sugar and plastic the world didn't need, but as far as consumerism goes, they were pretty cool, there was even a lost kingdom of extinct Yowies. I admit to being guilty of an occasional Yowie dabble, but the chocolate wasn't really that great and failed to seduce me into amassing a large collection.  The Yowie books can be found in op shops around the country and as we travelled we gathered a set. Bryce Courtney can write, and the stories are quite enjoyable, if a little predictable, environmental tales.

Checkout this collection (image found here), you still find these plastic critters in the opshop and undoubtedly landfill too.

So back to waste, why is there so much rubbish around our local reservoir? The spot is a little bit lawless, with rope swings, couches, and disused fire places. It doesn't have a feeling of being overly managed - despite a nearby DSE office. This is part of its charm, but also its downfall. Perhaps people feel like they aren't being watched, so can get away with a bit more. The fact that there are many land mangers responsible for different sections of this site probably doesn't help. It has a touch of no man's land.

Kids and families like to come here on hot days for a dip. Fisherman toss in a line for trout which are restocked annually.Teenagers take death defying swings off suspended ropes. Yesterday there were a couple of canoeists having a paddle. It's a popular spot to walk the dog. The vegetation is a hotch potch of indigenous plants, weeds and exotics. In Autumn trees surrounding the water turn wonderful shades of orange and red creating beautiful reflections. In Spring there are water lilies smiling at you. Nearby is a large pine plantation. We once encountered some teenagers camping here, they looked like they were having a ball. Dirt bike enthusiasts like to use this spot.  Now I'm sure there are some green dirt bike users, that wouldn't dream of littering (in fact I know a few) but I suspect they are in the minority and I am going to point some of the finger of blame at them. It would be interesting to be detectives and find out who the grumkins really are. It is such a shame as the site is really serene and lovely. Beer bottles, chocolate bar wrappers and soft drink cans do not add to its lure, nor the dirt bike sound track.

 Pine plantations have been described as a scourge by many Australian environmentalists, not the least due to their displacement of native forests and weediness, but they do have their charms. I love their smell, the soft crush of needles underfoot, and the feast of mushrooms that begin to emerge at their base this time of year (although the soil is currently still a little too dry for them). Yellow tailed black cockatoos cry mournfully from above as they send half chewed pine cones to the forest floor, we walk quickly for fear of having a seed missile land on our heads. I like to take Autumn walks in the pine forest with the kids, it is like a world taken from a fairy story, with white spotted red toadstools (fly Agaric mushrooms) and earth stars everywhere. We gather mushrooms, mulch, and pine cones to start our fire.

   Our European dog looks at home among the pine trees.

 Even willows can be beautiful, their is something solemn about their naked arching branches. Along the creek native grasses and ferns still emerge, doing battle with blackberry and gorse.

 We find a cork tree and cannot resist its textured bark, I wonder how cork tree forests are going since the decline in the use of cork bottle stoppers. Are they thriving or being chopped down?
 There is not a proper path around the entire reservoir so we walk higher alongside fences, navigating through prickly gorse to the road.
 Blackwood wattles are dropping their seed. We crunch their curly pods in our hands. The little one comments "nearly everything makes music" and a long discussion ensues. I talk about the arils on wattle seeds (that red bit curled around the black shiny seed) and how ants like to eat them, inadvertently gathering seeds and taking them down their winding homes. Arils that are pink or red like these are often favoured and dispersed by birds.

 Some mushrooms are emerging amongst the damp grass, we stop and feel their smooth caps.

 An Autumn leaf is plucked and the little one makes another leaf camera, we take pictures of each other.

 Mosquito fish send ripples at the water edge. A few frogs calling, but no tadpoles to be seen.
 This pose has been aptly named "the dead dog", and was a little how we all felt post journey. Some of the Bowerbirds have been a bit sick over the Easter break, and this was just what the doctor ordered for mind and body.


  1. What a shame about the rubbish as that looks like a beautiful spot and your pics show such a fun family adventure!
    I really love the sign...I do hope it makes a difference x

  2. My mum & dad have a biggish collection of Yowies (not as large as the photo though). They loved collecting them (my dad is not particularly concerning when it comes to chocolate...) and now their grandchildren love pulling them apart and playing with them. I didn't know there were books as well. Unfortunately I was in England when Yowies were at their height here.


In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young