After a busy time lately, it was nice to take a bit of time yesterday to walk in The Briars, a little historic homestead park close to where I live. I took some photos, looked for birds from a couple of hides and followed the line of Balcombe Creek back towards the sea.

I quite like the idea of walking the same place again, year after year, and seeing the fine and subtle differences. As Thoreau wrote: ‘Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.’ I have high praise for the local: from Gilbert White to Thoreau to the place examined in contemporary writers like Robert Macfarlane.

Balcombe Creek


Balcombe Creek



Re-connecting: Walking in the Briars

Most of the year for me is spent split between working in Melbourne and getting down to the Mornington Peninsula on weekends.

So, one of the things I like most about the holidays is the chance to be in one place for a while, and re-connect with some of my favourite places like the Briars.

I’ve blogged about the Briars before (do a search if you like) but I never get sick of the place, and the way the creek defines it as well as its sense of history.

Today I did the longer 4k loop and also walked out via the new Harrap Creek track for the first time. I’ve captured some of the moments below, but one moment I didn’t capture was seeing a big red-bellied black snake asleep by the side of the track. The trouble is, once you’ve seen a snake on a walk, you see them everywhere, in every shadow, root, branch or piece of broken bark on the track or just off it. It tends to take the meditating mind off the poetry a bit. Though, it did make me think, ‘have I ever written a poem about a snake?’, like D.H. Lawrence did? Looking back, it seems I have only had one go at it, this poem that was published in *Eureka Street* in 2011. Maybe it’s time for another go?

Late Walk Along Jerusalem Inlet

Rows of trees knee-deep in bracken
trunks green with soft moss
all dead or dying
a shovel shaped pit
the sound of water
some Mirkwood path
to a wide green place
where a house was
all ruined
broken rocks and bricks,
beside the broken oak tree,
a non-allegorical snake.

Below: The view from the bird hide



The prophetic sign: this was exactly the snake I saw half an hour after reading this sign.



Signs of former use; old fence posts from when this was farmland.


Common farmland birds poster in the bird hide




The boardwalk



Spring Paddock Dam



Balcombe Creek


Below: Balcombe Creek
Nice to see it flowing after a bit of rain this week.

Below: Spring Paddock Dam
Listen carefully for the frogs.

A walk in the green

Enjoyed the chance to visit a couple of my favorite places over the long weekend: the Briars in Mt Martha and then the walk along Balcombe Creek on a perfectly still morning. They are places that appear again and again in my writing and I must admit that I don’t mind that at all. You never really know any place, let alone think you can ‘capture’ it in a poem. But you keep trying, that’s what writing is.

Balcombe Creek


Balcombe Creek

Balcombe Creek

I got back from Queensland after finishing Macfarlane’s The WIld Places re-affirmed again in my belief in the local, the importance of the place where you live. It’s something that has always been in my writing but Macfarlane’s book re-asserts it, turning a vast circle from his initial conception of the ‘wild’ as the remote mountain-tops of Scotland, to the Thoreau-like belief in the value of the local area, the place you walk to.

Or ride to in my case. So, before I’d even unpacked my bags, I got the mountain bike out of its cobwebs and rode down to Balcombe Creek, a local creek that I’ve written about a lot, which flows into Port Phillip Bay at Mount Martha and rode along its edge again. It was nice to be home and I rode inland to the Briars homestead, an historic homestead which sits alongside the creek.

The other nice thing about the Macfarlane book was the list of ‘Selected Reading’ at the end. I’d made notes as I went along about other books I’d like to read, but Macfarlane had them all neatly included at the end, and linked to the chapters that he’d used them. I certainly added a few of them to my Amazon WISHLIST.