The Lyneham walk was (at the time) a bit of a disappointment, not helped by the weather. We left home at 11 and it was already 20 degrees. The forecast was for 26. What normally happens at this time of year is that it takes until about 3pm to reach the maximum temperature, then it sits there till about 6pm before rapidly cooling down. I’d thought 11 was early enough, but it wasn’t. We were very hot.
Advertised as a 2.9km flat loop, the walk was indeed flat, which was a good thing. A couple of signs were missing (1.56km and 2.35km, I think) but the turnoffs were marked, so I didn’t get lost. I did study the map very earnestly before we set out.
We parked near Tilley’s and walked along Brigalow Street, past Lyneham Primary, Brindabella Christian school, and St Ninian’s Uniting Church. The church is a little old building – of local Black Mountain stone, I learnt from its website. It was dedicated and opened on 13 February 1873. I should have taken a picture, but there are good ones on the website.
Another missed photo opportunity (through guilt at being snobbishly critical) was the Spanish hacienda – white paint, sprawl, ornate wrought iron, arches, paving – obtruding from a whole streetful of modest brick duplexes. I like brick houses au naturel! What’s wrong with me?
Walking along Brigalow Street brought back a lot of memories – too many to cover here. Lyneham’s a popular suburb, close to Dickson and Civic and not far from the university. In my SCUNA days, I went to many parties there. Geoff and Marie lived there when I met them in 1977. For the all-too-few years they stayed, Helen and I used to go to their place every Sunday afternoon and watch Countdown with them. Marc lived there for a while; if I were to walk down his street, I’d see him tapdancing to Bach’s Magnificat.
Onto Mouat Street we went, past the almost-deserted Lyneham Motor Inn, and down to the storm water drain (I suspected it was Sullivan’s Creek, and investigations reveal that it is) where, after I’d expressed distaste at the algae, we spotted a Sacred Ibis. And a great deal of graffiti.
Our proximity to Lyneham High School was signalled by the massed cawing of crows. We hear the same sound whenever we’re walking past Melrose High. Dac remarked that the crows were missing their lunch, it being Sunday.
On our right, as we walked along beside the drain, was Lyneham Oval, which I hadn’t noticed at all when we were going down the other side of it on Brigalow Street. There were some lovely old trees along the edge of the oval – and some huge old poplars which only had leaves low down, on what looked like suckers. Dying trees.
We crossed the drain and walked up a laneway beside the high school. We passed nouveau boxes of flats, with people lunching on their balconies, and brick cottages with thriving flower gardens. It must be hard living so close to the school. There would be so much noise. There’s noise here, with three schools close by, but at least my front door doesn’t open onto them.
When we reached Goodwin Street, it became clear that we weren’t going to be able to follow the map. There was a huge – and I mean huge! – excavation in front of us, and work going on all the way down to Wattle Street. Nowhere was there a sign telling us what was being built: plenty of signs telling us that the bike path was closed, however, and the footpath on that side of the road.
My suspicious mind immediately assumed someone was about to make a mint out of medium or high density housing, but I’ve now discovered with relief and pleasure that in fact it’s a project to turn that section of Sullivan’s Creek into a wetland:
The wetland will help improve the quality of the stormwater in the catchment and help reduce algal blooms in Lake Burley Griffin, provide aquatic habitat and enhanced terrestrial habitat, provide ‘natural’ recreational experiences and volunteering and educational opportunities and provide harvested stormwater for irrigation of playing fields.
Driving to and from Lyneham, we passed the brand-new Banksia Street Wetland in O’Connor – I’d read about it and was pleased to see it. I’m positively thrilled that what I thought was more boxes in Lyneham turns out to be more nature instead! Further investigation reveals that the wetlands are controversial, particularly the Lyneham one, which involved felling some big trees.
The map above comes from Sullivans Creek Catchment Case Study by Edwina Robinson and Maureen Bartle, 2010 available on the Constructed Wetlands page of the Department of the Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Water.
It’s so hard to make changes to people’s familiar environments. I know how wretched I’d feel if the gummint came round and cut down the tree full of cockatoos on Pearce Oval. But water quality, natural filtering, better control over storm water, use of non-potable water for sportsgrounds… All these things sound good to me. I’d feel much more wretched if trees were cut down to make room for box-building and lining a developer’s pockets.
Anyway. The excavation meant that we didn’t cross over – we staggered along on the Lyneham side of the road, passing a patriotic letterbox, and falling upon a seat at a bus stop, though it only had shade for one.
Down Wattle Street we lurched, looking for a front yard featuring AstroTurf that I’d noticed on previous perambulations. Found two, and they both looked pretty real, actually. The brown isn’t earth showing through; it’s stuff that has fallen from trees.
I kept catching distant glimpses of dogs, waving happy tails like flags, but they kept turning off down other streets or lanes. Imagine how pleased I was when we were greeted by the following woofers from their front window! It reminded me of Holland, where you often see a pair of dogs or cats (or vases or sculptures) in the front non-opening display window.
We were very hot and tired, so when another bus stop seat appeared, we flung ourselves down for a rest. After a while, a young woman came up to us and asked if we were waiting for a bus. She was parked about a block away, loading stuff into her car, and had walked all the way up the street to warn us that no buses stopped at that bus stop! “Especially on a Sunday,” she said. What a very kind person!
I omitted to notice Wandoo Street (which always reminds me of Hartley’s joke about “What’s a hendoo?”) because it had come to that point in the walk when all that mattered was getting back to the car. Oh, and I was distracted by boxes with palm trees.
Much has changed in Wattle Street since the days when the osteopath was on the corner of Hall Street. (In those days – not that long ago, I would have thought – it was a new building. And here it is empty, and looking run-down.)
Lyneham still has a few of its original (~1958) houses (and some of them were boxes, too, I noticed) but there’s been a great deal of gentrification. If only it didn’t go with growing such pointy plants! I suppose people are looking for drought-resistant gardens, but I’m sure these dead-looking pointy things aren’t native plants, and I’m sure there are native plants which would need little water and still look pleasant!
Lyneham Shops was humming, as always. People still flock to Tilleys.
Evidently they still flock to the Mee Sing as well. I’m happy it’s still there and still going. I had dinner there for the first time in 1969.
Dac bought diet coke at the local supermarket (where between 1978 and 1985 I used to buy the makings of dinner, after picking Helen up from the O’Connor Co-operative School, on the way home from work to our first house, in Kaleen) and we decided to try the All Bar Nun at O’Connor for brunch.
A snooty waitperson was pleased to tell us breakfast had closed at noon (it was perhaps 20 past) and the lunch menu looked dear, so we bought some bacon at another local supermarket and came home for brunch, and it was very nice.