Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Herdsman Lake

Daisy Bates Herdsman Lake pictures. Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide
Verso reads: Herdsman Lake, now drained and made a suburb?
I couldn't find any reference to the date which the photo was taken.

Tuesday 17th December, 1833  p. 63

I was unable to find any new plants here; nevertheless, today I took a walk to the Lagoons as they are called here, that is, to some marshes into which some small streams empty themselves. It is a characteristic feature of the country inland that all the small streams—(no large rivers have so far been discovered)—do not flow right to the sea but empty into larger or smaller swamps, the level of which rises and falls with the seasons. These swamps never become lakes. Over thousands of years they have been filled up with soil and they are all full of trees, even in the middle, all belonging to the family of Myrtaceae. This is most unusual, for whereas our rivers at home often rise in swamps they never end in them, although in Syria copious springs, like those at Damascus and Palmyra, frequently disappear in the desert. But I know no example of this in a region with vegetation and a regular rainfall.

Noongar Campsite, Herdsman Lake
Daisy Bates archive, Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide

Monday 24th November, 2014

Today I walked to Herdsman Lake from Perth. I got up early, about 5am, to try and beat the rising sun. Mornings start early in the West, the huge blue sky and swift sunrise beckoning. Coming recently from the East Coast and before that from Austria I have had to readjust to making the most of the beginning, not the end, of the day.

I was on the train to Perth before 6am and properly en route—after a few confused circles around the train station, and a fairly average flat white in an enormous carryout cup—by about seven.
Perth was already quite busy, without daylight saving there is less reason to stay up late and more reason to welcome the morning. Walking through the Arts Centre plaza I stopped briefly to listen to the frogs at the replica wetland—a beautiful ‘natural’ spot in the city complete with the sounds of happy frogs.

The start of my walk led me back along the train line, (I had been tempted to get off the train a few stops early, but was pleased to reverse my journey and look more slowly at things that had whizzed by through the train window. This included temporary beds and living areas, set-up surprisingly permanently under some bridges.)

By 7 am the sun was already very high in the sky. The day was clear and blue. I walked up Roe and Railway and then cut through some leafy green suburbs coming out at a large ‘man-made’ lake. A birder’s dream, even to my untrained eye I could see a multitude of species.

From here I followed the lake around and headed north again towards Herdman Lake. Hügel’s probable route led him to a swamp—comparing Dymphna Clarke’s map to a contemporary map of Perth, I imagine it is Herdsman. The Perth area was very swampy, like many parts of Melbourne, large areas of Perth had to be drained before the suburbs and city could be built.  Herdsman Lake was given an English name in 1836, three years after Hügel had moved on. The Lake’s history, documented in the Gould Centre at the lake records the story of many joined wetlands which once lay on the outskirts of a city but that now are consumed by housing the remnants attended to by conservationists. Some anthropogenic degradation is only visible through water quality testing while others, such as the rampant growth of Kikuyu grass, serve as a physical barrier between lake and walker, making it more difficult to imagine this landscape pre-settlement.

The lake is in behind this Kikuyu Grass and Typhus.
About 9:30am, Herdsman Lake, clear skies, high 20's.
Housing overlooks the lake.
Shady and Kikuyu free(ish)
New housing abutts the lake. 
The Settler's Cottage relocated to allow for new roads.
Guessing this Gero Wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum) is a cultivated variant that has jumped
the garden fence and is detrimental to remnant bushland.
Today only 20% of the Perth Coastal area wetlands remain. Over 100 bird species use the lake, with migratory birds flying in from as far away as Siberia and Norway. It is a vital remnant, and yet 80% of it is overgrown with the invasive Typhus orientalis and in certain areas as I mentioned above, the Kikuyu grass seems to grow up and over the reeds like a carpet. Other sections of the Lake have extensive and ongoing restoration work in process, providing space for indigenous plants to recolonise and reestablish.

I paused on my walk around the Lake, whisked away by my friend Chris (A fellow Weed Society member) who shouted me a much needed Affogato. After a lovely catch-up with her I was returned to the Lake and continued walking until I recognized where I began my loop. One of the parts of the lake I most enjoyed was near quite a busy road, despite the proximity of the traffic it was peaceful and quiet, the walking path dipping down towards the lake through a grove of Paper Barks. The only Tiger Snakes I saw were illustrations on warning signs.

Paperbark shade, a pleasure after all the Kikuyu.
My walk back to Perth followed a similar path as the outward journey, returning through suburbs old enough to have unpaved laneways dividing the rear of quarter acre blocks. A lemon tree leant over a the fence offering up its fruit.

Sandy laneways
I finished the walk with a cheap and cheerful Asian lunch in Northbridge with fellow Horizon artist, Tim. Like Hügel I have no complaints regarding local hospitality.

No comments:

Post a Comment