Monday, October 25, 2010

Growing up in Altona West

Janine Whyte penned a poem on growing up in Altona West in the 1970s. In this poem, references are made to various places - the playground in Apex Park, the fenced-in Truganina Explosives Reserve with its tramway, magazine and pier, the coast running from Altona to Werribee South and Altona Meadows which at that time was just subdivided for residential development. Local plants and animals mentioned in this poem include the Emperor Gum Moth, Pigface, Melaleuca quinquenervia trees (which can be found abundantly along Belmar Avenue), Eucalyptus tree, seagrass, frog and brown snake. This poem describes vivid scenes of a multicultural school, Altona's industries, coal deposits in Altona, rotting seaweeds on the shores and "New Australians" climbing field fences on Sundays.


Litoria fallax croaking_3821Photo by eyeweed
Growing alongside Truganina
- ‘the swamp’ in 1970 –
where frogs croak under dark grey loam,
found with brown coal in backyard diggings.
Cherry Lake 047Photo by Anthony
Emperor Gum moth (Opodiphthera eucalypti) caterpillars, 2nd instarPhoto by D.Morley
Larvae of the Emperor Gum Moth
moves like plump green fingers.
Pigface sprawls succulent on vacant blocks.
Flor de Carpobrotus edulis o diente de leonPhoto by F.Cuenca
Melbourne PaperbackPhoto by Fir0002Melaleuca paperbarks peel on nature-strips.
Outlying streets cut across tawny paddocks
of tussock, thistle and basalt rock.

the heart of it allPhoto by T.Lieser
20080914_Fence Climbing_0138Photo by Nussbox‘New Australians’
climb field fences on Sunday
to harvest ‘weeds’
as we feast on roast potatoes, lamb and peas.

Dinner @ The LAN HousePhoto by Dave B
TidepoolPhoto by wandererSeagrass washed to the shore
rots in layers
so deep, so long
thongs are lost in black muck
when retrieving sinking feet.

MudPhoto by P.Burgess
Eastern Beach Trains 002Timber train carriages
in Apex playground.
Magazine jetty with burns and
Old Photo showing the Pier
Truganina Explosives Reserve  Train Track 2rusted tracks over the sea.
A corrugated fence guarded explosives
and keeps the mystery.

Truganina Explosives Reserve  Train Track 1
Laverton Creek EPhoto by AnthonyHistory is quiet with subtle leads,
wanting to follow the water’s edge,
continuing the curve into Werribee.

108 7447Photo by Benjamin
Wind on the grassPhoto by S.GoblinWide miles of winnowing grass
grace the ‘Meadows’
where lone wolf eucalypts
stand brave on a subdivided plain.
Buttercups and meadow grassPhoto by artcatcher
Eucalyptus Tree TrunkPhoto by GregNo house, no road yet
disturbs the brown snake.

Sssssssssssssssmiley!Photo by teejaybee
AltonaPhoto by LouiseGrowing alongside Truganina
and aggressive industry,
Schoolfriends are Italian, Dutch, Maltese.
The land – already so shackled –
could only whisper of Volcano and Aborigine.


Aboriginal ArtPhoto by B.Dieu

Acknowledgement - I wish to express my thanks to Merrill Findlay for allowing me to reproduce this poem. The original poem can be found on this page.

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