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Out in the wild


I was sitting on my verandah, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine on a Saturday, when I heard the three 4WDs coming out of Barrm Birrm.  Engines ticking over, the young men chatted happily after an afternoon hooning around the muddy tracks.  Then came farewells and the slamming of doors and they roared off down Gap Road.


I should have walked up and started a conversation, but I just didn’t feel like it.  I was having the day off.  I went and inspected the damage the next morning, where they had forced their way around the locked gates, and it was bad. 



There's been a flush of bad behaviour in Barrm Barrm recently, with 4WDs getting in, campfires, cutting of firewood and dumping of rubbish.


The signs say plainly enough ‘Private Property’.  The gates are locked.  But testosterone and petrol are a powerful combination.  Our fallback as Landcare volunteers is to call it in, to the police and to the Shire.  The authorities need to know what’s happening there.


The good news is that long-term, there’s less bad behaviour in Barrm Birrm, and more people doing good stuff.  Barrm Birrm is the bushland reserve on Riddell’s backdoor.  People are walking, with friends or solo, running, walking their dogs, checking out what is in flower or in bud.  Mostly, getting the feeling of the place. 


Wild places have what Edward Casey (in ‘Getting back into place’) calls atmosphere:

“Atmosphere embodies the emotional tonality of a wild place, its predominant mood. When we are in such a place, we sense it not only as continuous with our own feeling – or as reflecting that feeling – but as itself containing feeling.”


That’s what I reckon those young men are after –the feeling of a wild place.  When I do have that conversation with them I’ll suggest get closer to the feeling.  Park the 4WD, slip on a day pack, and set off on foot.  Let yourself feel your vulnerability and hunger for the wild.  Walk in again, and again, further each time, and you’ll sense the pulse of the place.


Law-abiding citizens seeking a cheap thrill can join our regular ‘Wildflowers and Weeds’ walk, second Sunday of the month, 10-12.  Guided by the Shire’s ecological assessment of Barrm Birrm, we’re cutting down feral acacias north of the cemetery. Give me a call 0411 22 6519 to find out more.


And kudos to the Shire: they had the next blocking move in place before the week was out.


Ross Colliver, Riddells Creek Landcare



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