I was getting more and more depressed as I walked downstream alongside Cowies Creek in North Geelong. The sun was shining, the track well maintained, the lawns mown, the trees shady, even a few birds singing - so what was the problem? The creek itself. The section between Thompsons Road and Morgan Street is in very poor condition because of weeds such as Arum Lilies, Kikuyu Grass, rubbish, big storm water pipes directing who-knows-what straight into the creek and low water flow. The walking track is on the north bank and industries line the southern bank. Damsel flies were patrolling. Helen S. has been checking the salinity of creek in this area under the Waterwatch scheme and last week they looked for macroinvertebrates in the muddy water. They found leeches, diving beetles, midge larvae, backswimmers, boatmen and damselfly larvae and dragonfly larvae. She noted that they didn't find caddis fly, sonefly, mayfly, beetle larvae, snails, water mites or crustaceans such as freshwater shrimps.
But then I crossed Morgan Street and everything changed. In the section between Morgan Street and the old Princes Highway/Melbourne Road Cowies Creek here opens up to a lake in a reserve called Seagull Paddock or Deppeler Park. I've lived in Geelong for 25 years and have to admit that I've never been to this lake. It's about 500 metres long with several islands and a walking track all around. Very pleasant despite the noise from the highway nearby. I saw an Australian Pelican, Silver Gulls, Pacific Black Ducks, Dusky Moorhens, Purple Swamphens, Masked Lapwings and, amazingly, a female Darter. The latest Geelong Bird Report lists these as 'moderately common' but actually they are reported from few places beyond the Barwon River where they started breeding a few years ago. Maybe this is a new breeding site. I think the lake is regularly stocked with trout.
Downstream from the lake the creek again narrows and when it reaches the Princes Highway/Melbourne Road the footpath stops and I couldn't go any further. Here the creek has been directed into a pipe for a short section under the highway and a railway and flows out to sea at Corio Quay. In 1909 the creek's mouth was highly modified and is now a ship-loading port closed to the public. On the map, above, it shows as a rectangular shape. It would be interesting to look at an old map to see what it used to look like. I drove down Langdon Street to Crowle Street, past the heavy industries associated with a port, to a vantage point on the south side of the quay. Geelong's port is a busy port and this is only a small part of it.