Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Day Five - Craigieburn Grassland in the rain

A sea of poa

This morning began at Walker's Farm in Craigieburn. Last night Margaret was very kind and welcoming, with a few great yarns thrown in. We had lovely rain water and a gorgeous pink sunset. This morning the weather report suggested light rain clearing, the air was warm and balmy, we began the day in shirt sleeves.
After yesterdays hike through the re-greening grass-fire landscape we were pleased to be back next to the creek.

Balmy morning, lots of common reeds

Lesley and I walked alone today. We missed an extra walking companion while also enjoying the silence between us. The landscape is different to further upstream. The Craigieburn Grasslands seems to be the beginning of the basalt escarpments. The volcanic hills were left behind and the rocky faces coming down to meet the creek appeared more frequently.

Creek crossing

It was interesting to walk below and then above these escarpments. The view from below providing intimacy with the creek, and the view from above reminding us how close the factories and human busyness is. Then looking to the east, one is given a glimpse of the expanse of grassland that once dominated this landscape.

Escarpment with factories

The hum of the Hume Freeway was with us all day, traffic building to a roar as we approached crossroads such as Cooper St. Earth moving machinery dominated the skyline for several hours in the middle of the day. We guessed they were shifting the ground into position for more houses. Despite this we saw numerous swamp wallabies, traveling in smaller groups than the huge mobs of kangaroos we saw yesterday afternoon.

swamp wallaby watching us closely

Around noon the skies became greyer and the rain kicked in, always threatening to clear and then starting up again. It never rained hard, just a constant drizzle, but by this stage we were navigating serious gorse and hawthorn and so our attention was focused on our immediate movements and comfort rather than the expansive experience of previous days.

Lesley climbing away from the creek.

Lesley has been counting things, fences, creek crossings, foxes... etc. On our second creek crossing today I was a bit cocky about rock hopping and plunged into the creek up to my knees. My first concern was my camera which clunked on a rock (and was fine). Then as I clambered out, to the sound of Lesley's amused laughter, I felt the cool trickle of creek water infiltrating my boots! It was not yet lunchtime, so there was a lot of squelchy walking left in the day. Still, it was bound to happen, and as it turned out the rest of the day became very wet, so there was little difference between a creek dip or not.

The close proximity of the factories to the creek along the western edge of the grassland revealed itself not only in their tilt-up concrete definiteness, but also in the increase in litter and rubbish dumping and accumulation. With human habitation and activity comes our detritus and junk.

Cooper St in the background, thistle seed heads in the fore.

We passed under Cooper St into Cooper St Grassland mid-afternoon. Some of the stunning sections of the creek are in this place, and we loved the big still pool, where we saw our fourth or fifth fox for the day. The rubbish on the western side of the grassland (where the creek moves across) included a burnt out car which a man with three dogs and a large knife was inspecting closely.

Cooper St Bridge and Lesley
Burnt out car, three dogs, one man and a knife.

 We thought our final destination was a caravan park on the Hume Highway, so we walked the couple of kilometres up to the Hume along Barry Drive. It was 5.01pm as we walked, mud speckled and wet with our backpacks alongside a flood of workers clocked off for the day. We arrived at the caravan park just after Dave and the girls. It quickly became clear that our tent would be a nightmare to pitch on the gravelly cement surface provided. This, coupled with the fact that Dave heard a man in the office telling the receptionist, "I didn't punch him in the head", meant that we decided to come home to a hot shower and a warm bed for the night. (Not before I had suggested we slept in the swag under the stars, an idea I quickly retracted on seeing the look on Lesley and Dave's faces.)

So, here we are, back in Preston, but all ready for Barry Drive again in the morning.

Prickly Pear (meant to make a great dye)
Prickly Pear Flower north of Cooper St


  1. Safety First!

    I love Lesley's lists. Please include at the end of the walk.
    Great post. Haico and I are enjoying your journey. xx

  2. You are a step ahead!! Lesley is planning a 'guest' post.

  3. Suspenseful!
    (Burnt out ute, no?)
    Thanks for the good read after what sounds like an exhausting day.

    1. Yes! but very fluffy dogs for a "man-with-a-knife", maybe he was harvesting pricey pear?

  4. Swamp wallaby image very fine indeed. Beautiful animals. Most macropods have 16 chromosomes, but Wallabia bicolor is special: the females have 10, the males 11. The males have 2 different Y chromosomes. Marsupials teach us a lot about the evolution of chromosomes.


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