I got excited when the Victorian Environmental Friends Network told me that the Walks Victoria site would let anyone put up walks in their locality. Know a good place to walk? Then tell others about it. Put it on the map, leave notes. Walkers of the world unite.
What a simple way, I thought, to tell people where to walk in Barrm Birrm.
The afternoon light coming across the grasses, blue pincushion scattered through. Mid December 2022
Draw the route on a map, then people will know where to walk. Make a few notes to point out what they will find. More people will get to know and love Barrm Birrm.
Then I remembered that most of the walking in Barrm Birrm is on private land. You're often trespassing. when you walk the trails of Barrm Birrm, and as an official government organisation, Walks Victoria probably won't come at actively supporting trespassing.'
'Trespass' is legally correct, for as soon as you step off Princess Road, or any of the other named roads, you might well be on private land. Those tracks that head up and down the slope, carved out by 4WDs long ago - they are often on private land. In fact, the whole hillside was carved up into 162 lots and sold off in the mid 1970s.
Some lots, it's true, are now owned by Council, and because Council manages that land for public use, they probably won't come after you. But otherwise you are trespassing. You are also ..... walking in a little piece of paradise, looking after your mental health, enjoying the bush, showing your friends from Melbourne where you live, getting the kids away from their screens.
Rest assured, members of Riddells Creek Landcare, and many others from the local community, have been trespassing here for decades. We trespass to clear up rubbish, to get rid of weeds and to enjoy what's here.
So if you are up of a gentle form of civil disobedience, park outside 288 Gap Road, walk on up to Princess Rd/Gap Road. Go around the steel gate the Shire has put in to keep illegal and destructive 4WDers out.
Walk in 20 metres, take the first roo track to your right. If you miss that, keep walking to the billabong, and turn right there along the track first made by trail bikes. Stroll to Prince of Wales Terrace, then back along the same trail. Or for a longer walk, head up along Prince of Wales, to the dam, and make your way back down the network of trails, down, down, till you come to Gap Road.
You are anticipating a time when the private lots have been bought back by the Shire and this a public reserve by statute, not by dint of historical use, as it is at present.
And you are walking in the footsteps of local people and assuredly, the people who lived here before the settlers, the Wurundjeri, people of the wurun, the mana gum. Here, in Barrm Birrm, by Sandy Creek, in the top end of the Maribyrnong River, where the grassy plans meet the ranges.