Now & Then

 I live in Boronia, and though I see the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges first thing every morning, they can be hardly there. Sometimes, they are cloud enshrouded and disappeared.

They have been a constant throughout my life – and, for the last two years, a part of the all day (and night) landscape that I view from my kitchen window. Every morning their state of reveal is like a greeting from the mood of the day.

One Tree Hill is one of the higher foothills that I look out on. As many know, in the 1860s it was cleared of all trees except for one solitary tree left behind as a survey marker. Today, though, these hills are fully covered in shrubby, hardy to heat, foothill forest.

I live on the plains at the foot of these hills where creeks still flow and where, in the main, wetlands and forests once were – Blind Creek, Old Joe’s Creek, Dandenong Creek, Lower Dobson Creek, Bungalook Creek, Forest Road Drain, Corhanwarrabul Creek, Ferny Creek, Monbulk Creek…  

Clouds seem to bump into these foothills, bringing rain to Boronia even when it isn’t raining elsewhere. A windward weather effect; warm air travelling up the windward side of the hills thus creating clouds that can be followed by rain.

My back garden is a recipient of this water flow.

On rainy days, water pools in a line along my garden that can just about stream if conditions are wet enough. It’s common for many of the residences in my area to have such a stream-line through their garden. It usually runs from the direction of the foothills through to the other end of these gardens. It is annoying. It makes humans want to put in extra drainage to cope with it. Environmental history being hard to come by can mean that understanding the nature of this place and its topographical inclinations isn’t a common starting point.

But the annoying streaming is the liquid result of living on a land of creeks. It was only recently that my partner and I had the thought, for the first time, that maybe we should welcome this wetness into our garden by making a bed for the water line, embracing it as it arises, rather than fretting. And planting it out with endemic plant species, plants that can tolerate wet and dry feet. And this could be an alternative to a draining solution to alleviate the wet feet of our citrus trees and the sinking stumps of our house!
Water erodes hills. The creeks here will continue to erode for millions of years into the future until the Dandenong Ranges are wholly razed, leaving a view (from my long-gone kitchen window) of flat and undulating plains*, swamps, and woodlands, perhaps not unlike the topography upon which I now live.

Suzanne Kersten