Cat in a Box

As a rule our two cats, Tristan and Isolde, get on well together. They chase each other around the house for fun and cuddle up together on the bed, but there is one thing that causes war to break out between them. It is the old cardboard box behind my computer screen. Tristan believes it is his box and Isolde thinks that she should have it. Sometimes, when he isn’t lying in it, she will sneak in and try it on for size, and emerge with a look of smug self satisfaction on her face. But if he’s using it she will either pretend that she couldn’t care less about his box or it will be all out war. Tristan is much bigger than Isolde so the outcome is not often in doubt, but she doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase ‘give up’ and sometimes I have to separate them. On occasions offering Tristan another box works, for a while.

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Victoria Street – York Street Walk

This not one of my usual walks, in fact it is a walk that I had never done before, and am unlikely to do again because it is a bit too long. I mainly did it to draw a circle around all the walks that I normally take, with the exception of those along Scott Parade. On most mornings I pick routes within this circle, often using some of the subsidiary streets that run north and south within this area. (I now realize that I have not recorded some of these intersecting streets in these walks, perhaps I will come back to them later.)

This walk starts out along the Bunny Track but takes the steps just after the underpasses that leads up to Victoria Street. From there this walk travels along Victoria Street to the west, first on the north side and crossing to the south side at Queen Street. At this time the fish and chip shop is not open. Further along we pass the various buildings of the St Alipius catholich church including the hall, church, bishop’s house and schools. A year or so ago all the railings were deeply festooned with ribbons regarding the child abuse that occurred at St Alipius, but most of them have now blown away.

On this walk I went all the way down Victoria Street to the roundabout with the Eureka Flag flying in the middle. This is situated on Bakery Hill and marks the location of the monster meetings of miners and supporters in late 1854 that led to the rebellion at Eureka a few weeks later.

From the end of Victoria Street there is short linking street to Main Road which was the main road into Ballarat during the gold rush era. It leads eventually to Geelong which was one of the landing ports for the migration to the gold fields and which was easier to traverse rather than attempting the trek direct from Melbourne, even though the distance is considerable shorter.

After a short walk along Main Road you come to York Street and from there this walk goes almost direct to the top of the street, taking a little diversion up Klein Street to view the shops and the entrance to the Warrenheip Gully walk we’ve used a couple of times earlier. What I find interesting is the gradual change in the architecture as we walk up York Street, from the small cottages of earlier times to the brick veneer of post war years and, after we reach the crest, the much more modern developments on the reverse slope.

At the roundabout after the crest of the York Street hill we turn left and walk down Fussell Street, then along part of Eureka Street, all locations I’ve photographed before, cutting across to Charlesworth Street and then home. By the time I got there almost three hours had elapsed and I was feeling quite tired, but chuffed that I’d done it.

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Water Street – Yarrowee Creek Walk

My discovery of the Warrenheip Creek on my walk up Hummfray Street had intrigued me. Looking at a map of the area I saw that it flowed into the Yarrowee Creek behind the Brown Hill Pub not far north of the street. The creek flows northwards, apparently from the region of Mount Warrenheip to join with the Yarrowee and I thought it would be interesting to find where it flowed. Not taking my camera, I previously walked up Old Melbourne Road to see where the Warrenheip Creek flowed under the road and found that it flows further north along an easement behind a new housing development, but only as far as the development extends before the path is blocked by a large paddock. I could see, on the other side of the paddock, more developments and what looked to be a continuation of the easement through which the creek continued to flow northwards towards the Yarrowee.

This is not a walk I had done before. I had thought that one day I might take the walk along the Yarrowee Creek to the east rather than my other walk to the east towards the center of town, but had not got around to it. I have walked up Water Street on several occasions, but not as far as its crossing of the Warrenheip Creek. My search for the continuation of the Warrenheip Creek prompted me to think of joining up the two possible walks, and that is what I did.

It turned out I was right, that the new housing developments off Water Street to the south have created an easement that makes it possible to walk alongside the creek until the path is blocked by the paddock I had previously approached from the other side. No doubt that land will be developed for housing one of these days and the easement thus created will make it possible to walk along the Warrenheip Creek from Old Melbourne Road north towards the Yarrowee. What I did not anticipate is that the short distance that the Warrenheip Creek flows between Water Street and Humffray Street may be private property. There appears to be no permanent path way and in theory the way is blocked at the Humffray Street end by a fence which has fallen down or been pulled down some time ago, making access possible.

The prepared path begins on the other side of Humffray Street and follows the flow of the creek a short distance before joining the Yarrowee. From there paths run to the north towards the freeway or to the west to follow the Yarrowee as it flows through some picturesque ponds and wetlands, before coming to the continuation of Stawell Street that runs up behind Black Hill to North Ballarat. From there it is a relatively short walk down to the intersection with Humffray Street, along the side of Russell Square, over the Stawell Street footbridge, across Victoria Street and home.

I did this walk early on a weekend day. As a result there were more people than usual using the path, particularly along the picturesque length of the Yarrowee track. On the other side of the creek, on the Brown Hill reserve. there was a cricket match being played, but I was too far from it to be tempted to stop and watch the play for a while.

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Warrenheip Gully – Eureka Street Walk

This one is like many of the other walking routes I can use in East Perth. I can make it as long or as short as I like by taking the relatively short walk down Stawell Street and down past the little shopping center (where you can buy relatively good hamburgers) to the entrance to the Warrneheip Gully path. Heading along to the west, there are six cross roads before you get to Main Road where you can turn either to the right or left, south to York Street or north to Eureka or other streets and paths to head for home. This gives a lot of options for the amount of exercise I with to indulge in and the kind of landscape I want to look at as I go.

The nice thing about this particular walk is that it combines some nice natural aspects on the way to the west along the Gully path and then some interesting architectural variations coming up Eureka Street on the way back. Eureka Street, like many streets in this part of Ballarat, conveys a sense of the continuing history of the city with some buildings – usually cottages – dating back to the late 1800s, some more modern buildings and quite a few reconstructions and renovations. It is also interesting that there are the remains of quite a few shops along Eureka street but most of them are now closed, only the corner store and the cupcake shop surviving on the north side and the Italian restaurant and the take-away pizza place on the south side.

Towards the top of Eureka Street I cross the road to walk through Eureka Park, taking in some of the memorials to the 1854 event, the failed museum, the pond, the swimming pool complex and the back of the hall, and thence home.

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Yarrowee Creek Walk

This is a pleasant and relaxing walk. Usually I don’t go as far as I did on this occasion but cross over the creek at one of the earlier bridges. This time, however, I had some time to spare and I was interested to see what was further along the path. I was tempted to go even further but already the walk was starting to tire me and I still had to walk some distance to get home.

One of the things I find interesting about many of the walks around East Ballarat is the juxtaposition of the natural and built environments, and the changes evident in the buildings in different parts of the town. It seems that the walk up Stawell Street to the creek is mainly through an area built from the 1960s with a few buildings from earlier years dotted among the newer houses. Coming back from the creek along Princess Street we pass through some of the earlier working class areas to reach and cross over the railway line. I have no idea what the big new building is that has recently been opened in Gent Street, a school and apartments perhaps, but it juxtaposes the older weather board buildings on the other side of the street. Dyte Parade runs along side the railway line on the opposite side from Scott Parade and has an interesting mix of houses. The old public school and the community garden on the corner of Queen Street are a nice touch of variety, and then it’s on to the Bunny Track and home.

I’ve recently been reading a new book on Ballarat and goldfields history which includes a chapter on the way in which the city’s natural environment was destroyed in the 1850s by alluvial gold mining on the surface which turned Ballarat into a moonscape. After the surface gold had been mined and deep leed mining began, turning Ballarat into a permanent city, the people began replanting the city. This means that almost all of the natural environment dates from the 1860s and later. It is very enjoyable to walk through all the same.

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York Street Walk

I try to avoid walks that do not involve footpaths because old knees and ankles do not appreciate the additional work and protest later. Still, the walk up Eureka Street and then up the rougher ground of Fussell Street to the top of York Street is almost worth it for the houses that have been built at the top of the street and the views back to central Ballarat the street offers.

Usually, however, I walk down Stawell and Kline Streets, past the little shopping center and the entrance to the Warrenheip Gully to York Street, which is only a hundred yards or so further on. Then I go along York Street to Queen Street and then up to either of the four main ways back towards home; Warrenheip Gully, Eureka Street, Specimen Vale Creek or Victoria Street. On this occasion I walked on a little further to Otway Street and then up to Hopetoun Street, which made a diverting change with some interesting small houses and many garage doors. The short walk down Rodier Street is always pleasant, leading as it does to the Specimen Vale Creek walk, and home.

There is little in the way of natural beauty or variety on this walk but I find the varieties of architecture and settings that people live in interesting.

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Humffray Street Walk

Humffray Street is named after one of the leading lights of the Ballarat Reform League which played a key role in the politics on the Ballarat diggings in 1854. His street is one of the main entrance ways into Ballarat if you are coming from Dayleford way or coming off the freeway that bypasses Ballarat to the north so there is a fair amount of traffic on it at peak periods (what passed for peak in Ballarat).

It is usually an interesting but relatively short walk; leaving by the back gate and heading up Barmoral Drive. This time, however, I decided to take a peek into the little court that runs off to the right from the roundabout. I’ve walked past it hundreds of times but never thought to have a look in there. It is a pretty little corner with little cottages, but all the architecture is of the same vintage so it is not visually interesting.

From the entrance to Balmoral Drive we head up to Victoria Street, pass under the railway bridge (seeing the train running in to the Ballarat Station) and then up Water Street a short distance to the Caledonian Primary School on the corner with Thompson Street and up it to Humffray Street with the church on the right hand corner.

Usually I turn left and walk down to Russell Park, down Stawell Street North, over the footbridge and home. This time, however, with my camera in my hand, I thought I’d turn right and walk up to the Brown Hill shops which were, so I thought, not too far up the road. I was wrong, it is a fair walk. By the time I’d got that far I thought I might as well go all the way to take a photo of the freeway intersection where it crosses over Water Street. After that, it was simply a matter of walking back along Humffray Street to Russell Park, turning into Stawell Street and heading for the footbridge. At this point the battery in my camera ran out of power again. I enjoy looking over the houses on the street to the north to the hills and landscape beyond, and some of the photos reflect that.

The additional walk turned out to be quite interesting, taking in the Brown Hill pub, the Brown Hill swimming pool (which gets mentioned in the news occasionally when the council wants to close it) and the Brown Hill Reserve. I’ve driven past these landmarks a few times before but never had the opportunity to look at them in a more leisurely fashion. I also crossed the Warrenheip Creek, which I had not known of before. As I walked back along the street I saw that there is a path alongside the creek heading north. Had I had a map with me I might have taken it because I later found that it goes only a short distance before linking up with the path that goes alongside the Yarrowee Creek which then flown down to central Ballarat. This path would lead down to the bridge over the creek in Stawell Street and then continue along beside the creek on a walk that I was planning to photograph on a later walk. On another occasion, perhaps. (I’m also told that there is a further walk along Yorrowee Creek that follows its course up towards and under the freeway, which sounds interesting but further than I care to walk in the morning.)

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Specimen Vale Creek and Warrenheip Gully Walk

This is perhaps the most picturesque walks in East Ballarat. It follows the valley of the Specimen Vale Creek down to Main Road and then back up the Warrenheip Gully, with a short diversion to York Street to see where that walking track led.  The Warrenheip Gully track ends with a fence, probably the boundary of the Wildlife Park, so I finished off by walking up to Eureka Street, down to Stawell Street, and home. The walk goes between the three main east-west roads in the area; Victoria Street, Eureka Street and York Street which are on the ridges that define the two valleys.

On a normal walking day I would cut across using one of the intersecting streets, usually Queen, Ottway or King Streets, to shorten the walk to the free time I have, and it is rare that I would carry out the entire walk in one go. On this occasion, however, the early morning weather was very pleasant and I wanted to encompass the pleasure of these two valleys in one occasion. There is, as usual, a variety of vistas and architectural styles, reflecting the diverse history of this area since around, I would guess, the 1880s.

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