Western Creek on display

A few months ago I moved out of Rosalie and the catchment of Western Creek. I didn’t want to leave, but such is the plight of a renter. I now am a citizen of Oxley Creek, which runs through my new neighbourhood of Rocklea.

So these days I am writing about Western Creek from a bit of a distance. I no longer get to notice the day-to-day changes that happen in the area, like the height of the pond at Norman Buchan Park, the movement of the heaps of dirt in Frew Park, and the state of the new footbridge being built along the bikeway at the mouth of Western Creek.

The new footbridge alongside the bikeway over the mouth of Western Creek (photo by Steven Cowley).

The new footbridge alongside the bikeway over the mouth of Western Creek (photo by Steven Cowley).

Luckily there are locals still keeping an eye out for me. A few days ago I learned from Steven Cowley that the footbridge has been completed. To our delight and surprise, the new bridge includes two large educational signs dedicated to the history of Western Creek and its surrounds. The first inhabitants, John Oxley’s arrival, the development of Milton, and the three creeks and bridges of the Milton Reach, are all covered. Accompanying the text are several large photographs from the State Library’s collection, and some maps illustrating the location of past and present landmarks, including Western Creek and Red Jacket Swamp.

It is rather beautifully done, and I am quite touched to see the effort that the council (and/or the state government) has made to promote the history of Western Creek and the Milton Reach. I hope that we will see more of these sorts of signs in Brisbane in the future.

(photo by Steven Cowley)

One of the signs on the new footbridge (photo by Steven Cowley)

(photo by Steven Cowley)

Welcome to Western Creek (photo by Steven Cowley)


(photo by Steven Cowley)

A map on one of the signs, showing past and present landmarks (photo by Steven Cowley)

(photo by Steven Cowley)

One of the two educational signs on the new footbridge (photo by Steven Cowley)

Bottles and cans: an adventure in suburban archaeology

Suburban secrets

Since I started chasing lost creeks, I have been drawn to spaces that most people would tend to ignore or avoid. For example, I often find myself peering into drains, which in many urbanised areas are the only waterways left. I’m sometimes tempted to venture inside them, but I rarely do.1 Out in the suburbs I’ll look twice at any gully or ditch that has not been covered over. These watercourses sometimes run through scenic parks, but more often they are tucked away in roadside scrub or remnant bush.

The bushland between Mount Coot-tha Road and Birdwood Terrace, where I stumbled upon a gully full of bottles, cans and other rubbish. View Larger Map

Exploring suburban gullies is hardly a taboo like venturing into drains, but neither is it a popular pursuit. For all of the prickles and scratches you are likely to endure, you can hardly expect to see nature at its finest.

Yet to me, there’s a certain appeal about being in a space that in all likelihood has not been looked at for many days, walked through for many weeks, or cleaned up for several years or decades. Such places remind you that there are still things to discover in an otherwise predictable suburban environment. If you keep your eyes peeled in a place like this, you never know what you might find.

I recently found myself in just such a place while exploring the headwaters of Langsville Creek. This creek exists only in fragments now, but it once flowed all the way from the Mount Coot-tha Quarry to the Brisbane River at Auchenflower. Its catchment neighbours that of Western Creek, the forgotten waterway that is the main focus of this website.

My exploration of Langsville Creek had taken me to a patch of bushland between Mount Coot-tha Road and Birdwood Terrace. I followed the Old Mount Coot-tha Road from near the entrance to the botanical gardens, and walked downhill through a clearing not far from Walter Street. Before I knew it, I was at the bottom of a damp and weedy gully.

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  1. Kids used to explore drains all the time, but these days it is something of a taboo — and for good reasons. Thankfully, there are still a few underground explorers around to remind us what remarkable spaces drains are. (For more examples of drain photography, see subduedmidnight.com and longexposure.net.)