Lazy Luddite Log

13.2.09

Yarraman Creek


This entry is fifteen years in the making. At the time I started I never knew what blogging was. All I knew was that I was intending to tell the story of a how a freeway development affected a playground of my childhood.

All my life our family street directory displayed in pale dotted lines the “proposed Scoresby Bypass” which would pass though the paddocks at the bottom of our street. But then nothing ever seemed to happen and I regularly went on walks past the paddocks and over the Yarraman Creek to the remnant bushland beyond. In my fantasy-steeped teens I even dubbed the area my ‘Grey Woods’. It was a fantastic land of bush and billabong and the burnt husks of dumped cars left by the Creek.

Then in 1994 as a young adult I decided that the talk of the long-proposed freeway would one-day come to pass and so I took a film camera for a walk and documented much of the area (known as the Fotheringham Reserve). It was my intention to do the same thing once more when finally the freeway came our way.

In the meantime I got actively involved in the Australian Democrats and we were part of the campaign opposing the freeway development (a sparse network of environmental and public transport advocates). The then Senator Lyn Allison produced a pamphlet on the issue which I letterboxed in the neighourhood on both sides of the Yarraman Creek in Noble Park and Dandenong West. My recollection is that the pamphlet got zero response. The freeway development itself was very popular and had a lobby behind it which included local councils along the proposed route and the very influential RACV.

By 2005 the construction of what was now named the Mitcham-Frankston Freeway was underway and I returned with a camera (still using film) and prints from the original roll of film. I did my best to replicate the same positions and directions in taking photos. Finally last year (2008) I returned one more time now that the freeway was completed (I call it 'freeway' despite the tolls because a freeway is defined by its lack of intersections inhibiting traffic-flow). Once more I had a camera and past prints and once more I replicated the same shots as best I could.

The set of photos I present on-line are the best photos from those three rolls of film that have been converted to disc. The focus of these photos is to show how much has changed. I opposed the freeway development but am placated somewhat by the fact that much of the remnant bushland walk is still pretty much as it was. In our area the freeway has pretty much just replaced paddocks so I can live with that. Mind you the freeway walls are bloody ugly – I refer to them as The Berlin Wall. Take a look and note the changes (including how much greener it was in the past compared with now).

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