Stony Creek Backwash, Urban reserve.

Stony Creek Backwash reserve 2020-03-30 13:58:15
Sitting at home yesterday, I noticed the light was very promising. I had recently seen a fellow photographers work in and around the base of the West Gate Bridge on flickr and decided to investigate the location. I eventually found this urban park created by Maribyrnong Council and the friends of Stony Creek Inc.. I was surprised I had not investigated this space earlier? I look down on it ofen as I traverse the West Gate Bridge. It has always fascinated me.

The Stony Creek Backwash Urban Reserve is a well looked after green spot adjacent to several oil storage facilities. Nestled between the facilities and the West Gate Bridge it is a pleasant oasis. The park had many people wandering and bike riding though in and around it, despite restrictions in place for the Corona Virus.

I arrived early in the afternoon and stayed until about 3:30 I spent the amount of time I did here because as a location seen from above, as I do so often, it appears intriguing. It is one of those places that has been though a series of uses. Despite some of which are detrimental to the vegetation. The vegetation bounced back. Walking through the space and reading the signage placed at various points gives a sense of what the community aspires the space to be. Closer examination may contradict this. Looking, and walking, beyond the established paths. it is apparent that while the vegetation is abundant it may not be as vibrant as expected. These kinds of spaces make me curious and are somewhat of a metaphor for my own existence. Both geographically and metaphysically.

In the end I spent several hours there only leaving around 3:30pm as the light had turned too harsh for my liking.

Pre-European settlement

Prior to dispossession three adjoining Koori clans probably used the area as a meeting place and for gathering food along its embankments and wetlands. The Koories managed the creek environment to ensure that these resources would be adequate for their needs and succeeding generations. Midden sites were recorded at the creek's mouth where the Koori's feasted on shellfish. Evidence of other activities in the region include stone tool sites, silcrete quaries, scarred trees and burial places.

The Stony Creek belonged to the Marin bulluk clan, who occupied the area between Kororoit Creek and Maribyrnong River. This clan was part of the Woi wurrung, the tribal group which owned most of Melbourne. Bungarin was the head man of the Marin bulluk clan. He was also a guardian of the famous axe quarry at Mt William. Bungarin's name appears as one of the 'chiefs' on John Batman's so-called deed of purchase.

European Heritage 

Stony Creek has a long and varied European history which has left a marked impression on the creek and its surrounds. The European heritage is summarised below and documented on the friends of stony creek website. A former Geocities webpage no less!

In the 1850s, Stony Creek was an important route for labourers heading upstream to quarries located north and south of the creek. Th labourers quarried bluestone which was used to supply material for some of Melbourne’s earliest public buildings such as Pentridge Prison and St. Paul’s Cathedral. The leftover bluestone, used as ballast, was collected by ballast lighters and delivered to sailing ships at anchor waiting in Hobsons Bay.

To accommodate the growing industries and local businesses around the Yarra River port, a multitude of industrial rail siding were established in the Spotswood aerate connect the railway terminals at Hobsons Bay. The sidings were constructed between 1880 and 1930 and served numerous purposes throughout these 50 years. Th speak period of use for the sidings was from the 1920’s to World War II.

In 1927, the branch railway sidings were utilised to serve the Newport Oil Wharf berths along the Yarra river. The branch railway sidings served Shell, BP, Ampol an other oil terminals between Hall Street and Douglas Parade, while a circuitous line looped from Yarraville round along the West Bank of he Yarra River, over Stony Creek via a trestle bridge then on to the Vacuum Oil terminal, now Mobil.

The majority of the railway sidings have been decommissioned and the track s Ince removed. Remnants of the old Branch Railway sidings can be found in the eastern side of the backwash, running parallel with the Yarra River.


December 1803 A party from the schooner Cumberland follows the creek for one and a half miles. "It was salt and ended in a swamp."
  • 1835 Batman searching for pasture drops anchor opposite Stony Creek backwash.
  • 1848 Creek briefly known as Murderer’s Creek after the discovery of Lucke’s battered corpse!
  • 1850s Quarries opened up for ballast and building
  • 1870s Noxious industries established: tannery, meat processing and glue works.
  • 1919 Alfred Luizzi drowns attempting to cross in a flood.
  • 1920s Market gardens established.
  • 1940s Urbanisation spreads.
  • 1970 West Gate Bridge collapses killing 35 workers.
  • 1987 Ink spill into backwash kills mangroves.
  • 1993 Friends of Stony Creek formed.
  • 2001 Allied Containers constructed a bridge across Stony Creek without regulatory approval and Meadow Lea spill.
  • 2002 Pivot Fertiliser Spill
  • 2006 Fire destroys revegetated area at Hyde Street Reserve
  • 2011 Stony Creek Future Directions Plan released
  • 2013 Detergent spill

Website | Tumblr | Flickr | Twitter | Instagram


Borung, Victoria, Australia.

The abandoned primary school in Borung Victoria, Australia. [2019-10-19 17:01:12]
Late last year I managed a small day trip up into the Mallee in search of material for my psychogeography project.

I would have preferred to stay longer but overnight stays are tricky at the best of times. They are currently impossible with the pandemic.

I was impressed that there were still some houses occupied in this hamlet. There was a pub but not much else. And of course a wheat silo, also abandoned.

Website | Tumblr | Flickr | Twitter | Instagram


What is a photograph?

"...For me, the essence of any photograph is the way in which it touches, whether that be physical, emotional, spiritual or otherwise. Nicholas Muellner, in his wonderful new book Lacuna Park, writes: A photograph is a surface for feeling. I think about that phrase a lot.
A photograph is also a question, a prompt, and an interface. A point where we the viewer meet and interact with the thing itself and its shadow. A transaction between body, imagination, environment. I think every photograph also has the capacity to exist as an afterimage, some more vivid and intense than others..."

Website | Tumblr | Flickr | Twitter | Instagram



Reading this article today got me thinking.

Sketchbooks formed a formative part of my early career as a visual artist. Over the years technology and work kind of got in the way. I feel it’s time to reverse that trend. Now with cheap colour printers and a 200000 plus digital archive some interesting things may eventuate.

Watch this space.

I already have digitised some of my early visual diaries over on tumblr, but may not have finished?
A spread from a visual diary from about 1988

Website | Tumblr | Flickr | Twitter | Instagram


Melbourne Art Book Fair 2020

As usual, the Melbourne Photobook Collective has a stand at the NGV’s Art Book Fair. The fair is an annual event, this year running from 12th of March to the 15th of March. This year I added one new publication, and a series of postcards. The new ‘publication is entitled ‘Body Bags & Other Misdemeanours’. It is a a 41 page stapled book with 27 photos printed on 100gsm stock. The postcards were abstracted fragments of torn advertising posters. Below are a selection of images from the book.

Website | Tumblr | Flickr | Twitter | Instagram


Exhibition Reveiw

negative, Murrayville, Victoria by Gary Sauer-Thompson
The Malle Routes Exhibition I was invited to participate in over December 2019 and January 2020 had a review written by Adam Dutkiewicz, on his blog The Adam Dutkiewicz Archive

Website | Tumblr | Flickr | Twitter | Instagram