Into the swamp

Enclosing capital

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  • Published 20230502
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-83-2
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

MOST EVENINGS, WE walk through the wetlands taking shape within a hundred-­year-­old golf course in Elwood in Melbourne’s south-­east. In 2018, community activists persuaded Bayside council that the poorly patronised Elsternwick Golf Club could be rewilded, restoring, in the words of the architectural plan, a ‘native parkland, wetland and urban forest…that echo the beauty of the land before the invasion of concrete and asphalt…and provide refuge and tranquillity for people and wildlife’. Some of that beauty can already be found in the partly completed Yalukit Willam Nature Reserve.

After work, we go down from Glen Huntly Road where the clubhouse once stood, across the linked billabongs flowing over the old greens and then around a lake originally designed as a water trap. In the trees, viridescent rainbow and musk lorikeets chitter and shrill. Red-­rumped parrots forage in the grass; wood ducks shepherd their young past the strutting swamp hens. Occasionally, a rakali cuts a V-­shaped ripple through the lake with its white-­tipped tail. A Murray short-­necked turtle – a released pet, we think – basks on a log, while, in the ponds, a long-­necked turtle surfaces, startling the common galaxias needling in and out of weeds. Sometimes we hear a Peron’s tree frog or a pobblebonk: the first gives a rattling growl, the second a plonk like a banjo string. And every day, the seedlings – blue devil, common woodruff, purple loosestrife, large river buttercup, yellow bulbine – spread a little further in a soil still expelling a century of wayward golf balls.

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