Monday 18 July 2011


Merri Creek flows about 60 km from the Great Dividing Range through Melbourne’s northern suburbs to the Yarra River. Merri Creek is an environmental, heritage and recreation corridor that draws its significance from its role as a continuous corridor as it does from the qualities of individual reaches. All areas of the Creek are important because they contribute to the linking of areas of environmental, heritage and recreational value along the Creek. At Coburg, one of Melbourne's northern suburbs, the creek has been dammed to form a lake.

Merri Creek and its immediate surrounds are host to some of the most threatened ecosystems in Australia. The Creek has a unique role to play in the preservation of threatened flora and fauna and the maintenance of vegetation communities that in other places have almost been totally destroyed.

Revegetation works and parkland development including path construction have created a linear park of outstanding quality and landscape character. It is one of the parks which plays an important role in the natural parkland systems within the metropolitan region. While walking or cycling along Merri Creek one becomes aware of the indigenous plantings, constructed wetlands and the animal life of the creek corridor.

Eucalyptus caesia  (Gungurru) is a well known tree amongst Australian plant enthusiasts and has many beautiful features, the best of which are its large, showy flowers that bloom in late winter/spring.

Acacia pycnantha (golden wattle) has enjoyed popular acceptance as Australia's national flower for much of the 20th century but it was not proclaimed as the national floral emblem until 1988, the year of Australia's bicentenary. Its golden yellow powder puff blossoms provide a cheery glow in even the grayest winter's day.

With the revegetation, cleaning up and general maintenance of the Creek, there have been confirmed sightings of platypus in Merri Creek, especially in its upper reaches int eh outer metropolitan area.

The parklands around Merri Creek provide a serene place for walking, quiet reflection and contemplation.

One can focus in on the tiny details, each a microcosm of life where great dramas are played out.

Water fowl populate the wetlands in great abundance and their cries provide a welcome addition to the sound of flowing water.

The most well known and easily recognisable duck in the world, the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is also a popular game bird. These ducks frequently crossbreed with other duck species, making identification challenging for many of their offspring. Males have the more colourful plumage including the iridescent blue-green head and distinctive tail curl, while females are a mottled brown. As a dabbling duck, mallards regularly feed in shallow rivers, ponds and lakes, and they can become quite tame near human habitation.

Ducks are an endless source of fascination for children (and not only!).

The park around Coburg Lake, through which Merri Creek flows has a number of facilities, including barbeques, picnic areas, playgrounds and areas to exercise in. There is always time to play...

Or to pray... Coburg is a lively multicultural suburb and has a large Muslim population.

Feeding the ducks can become quite an addictive habit and one frequently sees the same people indulging in this pastime.

The scramble for food often ends to the advantage of the seagulls, which are quite aggressive and will dive in and steal the food right under the bill of the ducks!

This was a beautiful, golden afternoon, which no doubt would have provided some happy memories to many...


Hark to the whimper of the sea-gull;
He weeps because he’s not an ea-gull.
Suppose you were, you silly sea-gull.
Could you explain it to your she-gull?

                                         – Ogden Nash

One must not forget that despite the mellow sunlight and fine day, it was still winter. The chilly air had cooled our hands and our noses had become red. The twigs of the trees were still bare, but there were buds swelling...

As afternoon marched on, we took the path back up to the northern side of the park. the sun was blindingly brilliant!

This was an easily missed place: A totally enclosed leafy arbour, which had a small opening amongst the branches and the leaves. Peering in, one saw a small space surrounded by branches and greenery, seemingly like a fairy's bower.

Another reminder of Coburg's multicultural community is this staute in the Coburg Lake Reserve. It is by sculptor Antonio Masini and is called “Man of the Valley”.  It is a gift from the Italian cities of Viggiano and Grumento. The sculpture is, in the words of its creator, “a tribute to the thousands of Lucanian migrants throughout the world and in Australia in particular. This monument represents the determination and courage inherent in the immigrant.”

The setting sun colours these Pyracantha berries an intense red.

And the blooming, fragrant Viburnum is a welcome reminder of spring...

Tuesday 5 July 2011


Dusk falls south of the Yarra, and as the sun sets people start to think about what to do on a winter's Saturday night.

Traffic builds up as evening progresses. Looking towards the southwest on Port Phillip Bay.

Looking towards the City from Southbank. From the right, Princes Bridge, Federation Square, St Paul's Anglican Cathedral and the iconic Flinders St Train Station.

The relatively new footbridge over the Yarra connects north and south and is always busy. The Ponyfish Island café and bar just under the bridge is in a good location, if a trifle damp!

Saturday night is a busy time on Ponyfish Island even in winter!

The Sandridge Bridge is an old railway bridge over the Yarra that has been converted into another pedestrian bridge and the interesting sculptures that adorn it illustrate the immigrant records along the bridge walkway. In 2001 the State Government held an expressions of interest process for refurbishment of the bridge, seeking commercial ventures, but the process was not successful and in 2003 Melbourne City Council and the Department of Sustainability and Environment took over. They committed $15.5 million to restore the bridge, create a plaza on the Southbank side and make connections to walkways on the Yarra north bank. In 2005 it was announced that artist Nadim Karam had been commissioned to create ten abstract sculptures in a piece titled "The Travellers", which represents the different types of immigrants who traditionally arrived by train over the bridge from Station Pier. Nine of the sculptures move across the bridge in a 15-minute sequence, moving on bogies running between the two bridge spans

Along the Yarra Promenade one sees all sorts of artists, buskers, entertainers. More so in summer, but even in winter these artists were braving the cold night to produce ephemeral masterpieces on the pavement.

Nothing like a little rowing in the balmy 7˚C of a Melbourne winter evening! The clocktower of the Flinders St Station is a familiar sight.  Flinders St Station is the oldest station in Australia (1910) although the first station on this site opened in 1854.  Flinders Street is the busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere even after the completion of the city loop railway subway and its 700 metre main platform is the longest in the country.

If rowing is not your cup of tea, perhaps you may enjoy some Melbourne Yarra River Cruising. The city lights are infinitely more appealing from the (heated) cabin!

Numerous eateries, cafés, bars and restaurants line the promenade, such as this Italian restaurant, "Il Primo Posto".

Melbournians enjoy their Saturday night out, whether it's for wining, dining, promenading, gambling, or otherwise gallivanting.

Dominating the Southbank landscape is the Crown Casino complex, here seen from Southbank Plaza. One of Nadim Karam's sculptures to the right. Crown's current casino complex opened in 1997, after moving from its original location from 1994 on the north bank of the Yarra. It is one of the central features of the Southbank area in the central business district and the Crown Promenade fronts onto the waterfront as part of Southbank Promenade. Children under 18 are permitted into the entertainment section of complex, but not into the gaming area or areas serving alcohol. The entire complex has a space of 510,000 m² which is equivalent to 2 city blocks, making it the largest casino complex in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the largest in the world.

The foyer of the Crown Towers Hotel, associated with the Casino.

The Atrium of the entertainment complex of the Crown Casino, where there are constant light and music shows enjoyed by visitors.

Another view of the Atrium from the top of the stairs.

The bar of the ground floor Casino area, adjacent to the atrium.

Well, it wouldn't be a casino without a few of these facilities!

"The Conservatory" is one of the Crown restaurants on the first floor.  It has an open, airy feel with light decor, high ceilings and huge windows overlooking the Yarra.

One of the attractive features of the Crown Atrium are the fountains, which are synchronised with the sound and light show.

Same fountains different light!

One the hour, along the promenade outside the Casino there is a display of jets of fire that can quite terrify someone standing nearby who does not know about them or is not expecting them!

More fire-works!

The lights on the trees are a nice touch...

You don't need much to enjoy yourself on a Saturday night...