I took a walk alongside Merri Creek in Melbourne, a little river that runs down into the Yarra and then eventually into the sea. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful walk, except that it got me thinking about how we need to care for our rivers and streams as if they are the bloodstream of our towns and cities, which in a way they are.
It probably wasn’t that long ago that this Creek got flooded, and the evidence was in the trees and bushes up to 20 or 30 feet above the current river level. It wasn’t the water that marked the top level, it was the mass of every kind of rubbish stuck in trees and bushes, bags, clothing, all kinds of stuff that should have been put away more securely by Melbourne Residents.
It was pretty obvious that some in the area also think the river is just an extension of the municipal dump, with bits of electronics and general household clearance ‘hidden’ in bushes, but not so well hidden and still of course a long term polluter of the river.
Attempts by the river and park authorities to make it somewhere to learn about the environment, with nice informative signs, were almost all partially or wholly trashed.
A couple if places of inspiration though. Some people had circled off a piece of land as a Gorilla Garden, with nice veg growing in it and a notice saying this is free food but please water the veg when passing. What a great idea. I’m not sure why it is Gorilla Gardening, maybe the local Gorillas like lettuce?
Further up there were two notices about a small market garden that is kept for veg using water in a tank underneath, prior to the water dropping into the river. This reduces water loss while still keeping plans healthy.
The walkway alongside Merri Creek is wide and long. It seems to me there is every opportunity to see it as more than a cost to the community, Gorilla Gardening could be encouraged, as is happening in Chichester UK and elsewhere.
Creative ways to get people to see the river as something at the heart of the community not part of its intestines, surely that is worth the effort. Political and community leaders need to affirm their belief in the central part played by all our waterways, we start life in water and with thrive on its availability and cleanliness.
Let’s care for water.