WRiVA Blog

From the valley of Werribee River through Wyndham, it is unusual that the view upwards onto the banks, does not include buildings on the skyline.

Waking from the Maltby Bypass, a walker sees evidence of spilled building debris from earlier times when farm buildings were demolished, and pushed into the river valley.  On those same farm sites there now stands tall concrete walled buildings separated from the walker by high cyclone fences, giving an abrupt block to any views which may have been possible. A cold and unnatural barrier. These same buildings could have been built more sympathetically for this gateway area which can be seen from the busy Princes Freeway.

 

Then as the walker approaches the township, housing is seen very easily, sitting on top of the escarpment, some with untidy fence lines  and spilled garden escapees. Noticeable too is poor drainage infrastructure and a lack of native vegetation.

Mown grassed areas right down to the escarpment allows litter to be blown over into the valley, and introduced bird species to predominate. Ugly and sometimes quite unsafe drains from the main streets introduce litter by the kilogram. Poor drainage infrastructure adds to the litter load, but now cars are allowed to park very close to the river and take-away food litter is left behind every weekend when cars leave. Buildings in Chirnside Park have their backs to the river and add to their non-caring appearance with more cyclone wire fencing. Will the upgrade to the football club as announced in the local member's latest newsletter be any more sympathetic?

Then mown grass areas which are frequently litter strewn adjoin the bridge over the river, and the walker can begin see the unattractive view into the rear of main street buildings. Here in the valley shopping trolleys begin to appear as there appears to be no control or responsibility of these mobile nuisances by their owners, and no willingness by enforcement authorities to do anything about them.

Further upstream along the valley there are ugly drains again, which spew out plastic litter, and attract graffiti. More mown grass here adds to the burden the river must carry. The river surface can be seen littered with containers which but for an intransigent State government's blind eye policy, could be a funding source for local initiatives which might help the community. Here too are involved a multiplicity of government departments centred around the railway bridge who, when asked for help, cannot work out easily who has responsibility for any matters in which they might reasonably be seen to have an interest.

More buildings can be seen as the story unfolds further upstream, as the walker passes through the valley looking up at buildings and noting drainage infrastructure with plastic bags and fragments clinging to bushes and trees in the drain spill area. More trolleys can be encountered up to Heaths Rd, as can mown grass again which this time is causing erosion of the riverbanks.

Beyond Heaths Rd large open spaces of mown grass allow high wind levels and sun to lift evaporation rates, drying the ground out as well as let litter blow to the river valley. Riparian vegetation here is under constant edge effects of dying back, and invasion by weeds, too many people walking off paths and intrusion by feral and domestic pets.

Finally, the walker arrives at Riverbend Historical Park where a water authority in their wisdom has erected a cyclone wire fence, the purpose of which was not discussed with the community. The fence line is now after only three years or so, suffering from vandalism and in fact the authority has removed portions of it them selves, as if recognising that the fence has done little of what it was meant to do. This site could be so much more as it links with Werribee history, social and environmental activities.

Looking back on the walk, the walker could be forgiven for thinking that Wyndham's elders have not looked after the river very well, and the walker might wonder what is to come in the proposed housing development fronting Heaths Rd, and backing onto the river.

Is it time we began to care for our river a little more?

 

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