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  • rosscolliver

Walking off the tracks

Updated: Jun 18

Yes indeed, the ‘Private Property’ signs on the gates of Barrm Birrm are a little daunting for the law abiding.  Much of this land is indeed private property, mostly 1 acres lots in a subdivision put on the books in the 1890s ….. real estate speculation has been around a long while in this wide brown land of ours.

But don't let the signs might put you off.  Many lots are now owned by the Shire, handed back by owners who realized they were never going to be able to build here, and git tired of the rate notices. And the public roads are indeed public roads, and you can walk on them. 

By long tradition, this land has been walked and enjoyed by the people who lived around about.  The Wurundjeri walked here for many moons on their seasonal visits and white fellas have walked here since before the lots were sold in the 1970s.  Riddells Creek Landcare took on the hillside in 2005, and we walk to care for the land.  

As for going off the public roads, Princess St and Prince Alfred Street and the like, I can recommend it.  The grasslands are open, fed by the sunlight coming through the scattered canopy of the eucalypts.  There’s mostly no understorey.

Walking off track is an exercise first in looking closely, noticing where the grasses have been trodden on just a bit.  Then if you think like a kangaroo, imagine what it might be to move like a kangaroo, you'll get a sense of how these pads run, in gentle curves along the hillside, the easiest way for a leaping gait.  You pick up the kangaroo tracks and you will have easy walking across the hillside.

Youll get a sense too of the way the landscape changes with small shifts in topography. The ridges are drier, the hollows are damper.  I went out looking for sedges that might work where the water gathers on my creek flat.  I remembered where they might be, and here they are, Ghania radula, Thatch Saw-sedge, happily spreading out along shallow drainage line. 

We're close here to Prince Alfred Street, Lot 123/LP1514, a Council lot according to MapShare Vic.  Lot 122 beside it has a private owner, but where were they when we needed a hand with the Sweet Pittosporum and Ovens Valley Wattle invading this valley? We did the job anyway, and now I see there's a few more that need attention before they grow higher and thicker.

Lot 124 is up for sale, $90k.  Or just come and wander. Walking up today into this damp hollow, I'm reminded how each part of this hillside is a world, with just the right combination of plants and sunlight and moisture, and each place in need of a little care.

Join us for our monthly Wildflowers and Weeds walk, and you see what’s out, and learn what should not be there and how to get it out.  You can help the bush live on the way it has for long before we arrived with our subdividing ways.

Ross Colliver

Riddells Creek Landcare

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