A walk in the rain to Pipemakers Park

Saturday 12 September 2020. On a rainy Saturday afternoon in mid-September, five weeks into Melbourne’s second-wave coronavirus lockdown, the Handels set out for a walk along the Maribyrnong River Trail to Pipemakers Park. The wet weather did not dampen our spirits even if the rain dampened our shoes. It did however dramatically reduce numbers sharing the trail with us – not a bad result. Usually we gain the river trail via Footscray Park, following the twisting path down through the Edwardian garden beds and passing through the wisteria arbour. Today however we used the steps running between Footscray Park and Victoria University as a kind of shortcut, entering the trail at the rowing club building. We walked along in the rain, marvelling at how few people there were, then, leaving the trail, turned left at the first of the Burndap Park wetlands. Wandering among the reeds and out onto the lawns of Burndap Park were numerous Australasian Swamphens, including a brood of chicks – delightful, handsome birds that show little concern at the presence of people. A little further along were the equally fearless Australian Wood Duck (aka Maned Duck) chicks, whose progress from fluffy balls to fledglings we have been following over the past few weeks. Scorning all danger, Mother Wood Duck led them from the water and across the path to who knows where. We proceeded along Edgewater Lake in a northerly direction, passing the marina and thereafter tending westerly, until we reached the second Burndap wetlands zone and the interesting Jack’s Magazine, a former explosives storage site, which the Handels visited last year as part of Open House Melbourne weekend. Continuing on, we walked through the grammatically ambivalent Frogs Hollow Wetlands, a rather wild place and indeed home to croaking frogs. Adjoining Frogs Hollow is the lovely Pipemakers Park, a mixed-use urban park with woodland, wetland and open spaces, as well as heritage buildings and other infrastructure. Our end point was the viewing platform built over and into the wetland. Last week’s White-faced Heron was nowhere to be seen; instead, living in a dead, hollowed-out tree in the wetland was a pair of Red-rumped Parrots. Roosting on the dead tree was a Chestnut Teal. All around us a chorus of birdsong accompanied the persistent drizzle. We spent some time recording the birdsong then made our way home again.

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