Thinking back to my very young days living in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, I remember with fondness spending many hours at our local creek (‘Mullum Mullum Creek’ to be precise, Aboriginal for ‘Place of many Eagles’). We would mostly ride our BMX bikes, build jumps, throw rocks, climb trees, build rope swings and so on and so on (you have to remember these were the days before Pokemon). What was the creek like back in those days some 30 odd years ago? You might well imagine it filled with Eucalypts, a bubbling creek full of frogs and native wildlife, things only get worse not better, right. Well actually, it was a place where the majority of the native plants no longer existed being overgrown with weedy species of trees such as pine ‘Pinus radiata’ and weeping willow ‘Salix babylonica’. The creek itself was heavily lined with blackberry and its banks would regularly collapse during storms, eventually threatening to engulf low lying houses. What had happened to the many eagles that the Aboriginals had named the creek after? They were shot because they threatened the early settler’s chickens. What had happened to the many platypus that lived in the creek or the local frog population? You could probably ask the local panel beater (down the street from us) that used to dump his excess paint and thinners directly into the creek itself. Not only did he do this but removed bushland at the back of his property to have better access to his dumping, claiming that the trees stopped the breeze from blowing the fumes away from his workshop. Sounds criminal but he was far from being the only one. There was a few of the local home owners who would plant some native species at the back of their houses but the place, generally, was an open sewer full of broken shopping trolleys, dumped rubbish, lined with weeds and the creek water itself was often a lovely shade of florescent green. I knew even back then that this was totally wrong and (believe it or not) spent many hours imagining myself as the curator for the creek, where my job was to return it to its former glory.
Thankfully, the panel beater was eventually fined, the creek was excavated and rock-lined in areas to prevent erosion, new bike paths and bridges were built, many weed species removed and native species planted en-mass. A trend that is still continuing to this day, mostly by the wonderful locals (through ‘National Green Jobs Corps’ and local council). The point of this exercise was to vastly improve the water quality flowing into the Yarra River (Melbourne’s major river system) and out into the bay creating green corridors through a major city for the benefit of its people, flora and fauna. It is one of the few suburban creeks that supports platypus (can’t say I’ve seen one though) and huge amounts of indigenous plant species. Not only this but it is a perfect means of storm water management. Why such a dramatic change in, what is really, a short time? Well who wants to live in a filthy tip for a start, but I also believe that we are slowly but surely having a shift in consciousness and people at the leading edge are incorporating more and more green solutions into our everyday lives that are both environmentally friendly, sustainable and make the world a better place to live in for everyone and everything. This series (A Green Mindset) is about thinking outside the square and shows the solutions and the fabulous ideas that I have witnessed on my walkabouts. Not surprisingly working with nature is often easier and cheaper than working against it.