It was a glorious sun drenched winter’s day yesterday with a bright blue sky. My partner John and I decided to spend the day cycling and exploring more of our locality. There are a few paths and places that we wanted to investigate leading in to a proposed community based and collaborative project we hope to undertake that explores, speculates about and imagines an alternative future for a road reserve. If realised the road will further fragment and slice the area, which already seems like a disjointed archipelago of suburban wedges.
The Enabling Suburbs group is proposing to undertake an investigation of the road corridor with a view to engaging the community in cultural mapping and community design, possibly culminating in a community cultural development initiative, such as a public artwork, social space or event. The intention is to recognise this dormant and underutilised community asset while also providing a platform for community resilience and wellbeing. Given the pattern of cul-de-sac development emerging along Ridley Road as large parcels of land are redeveloped, there will be an established suburban population living along the corridor by the time road works commence.
At present the land reserved for the corridor is used for a range of formal and informal uses that support community wellbeing including as an ecosystem services corridor for waterways, remnant vegetation, habitat and biodiversity. Informal uses include play and active living, fruit growing, gardening and car parking. As the land is preserved for transport infrastructure, it is not suitable for redevelopment and older buildings and uses are also retained e.g. stables and former farmhouses. Presently the land, especially where it is publicly accessible, seems to play the role of ‘community common’ or ‘common use infrastructure’. Proximity of houses, especially backyards, to much of this area provides for passive surveillance, making it a safe place for many community activities.
The stretch of road reserve that runs between Graham Road and Ridley Road is particularly interesting and promising. Following are some photographs from our trip, which are the beginning of an inquiry that may involve a community cultural development initiative that links current and future uses.
Billabong and Creek. There is a billabong near Beams Road into which a narrow creek runs. The billabong disappeared under the road and is shaded by well established trees. This creek runs the length of the road reserve with some insensitive storm water management treatment. There are other storm water management interventions throughout the site.
Makeshft swing. A broken and rusted metal shaft with fittings that suggest it once held a swing hangs between two trees.
Paperbarks. Near the billabong.
Banana Tree Grove. A scattering of well established banana trees on the site including this cluster. Other plantings suggest people are intentionally growing fruit and/or trees.
Makeshift play and outdoor furniture interventions. This includes a swing and cubby in one of the trees and a brick and plant bench. There are other interventions throughout the site including: a punching bag hanging off a tree, a trampoline, additional swings and other things suspended from trees.
Mango Trees. A grove of well-established mango trees.
Pathways, parkland and bush. There is a gravel and dirt pathway that runs through most of the site. The site is generally maintained – obviously mowed – and retains a ‘natural’ look and feel in parts, particularly around the billabong.
Stormwater Management. A creek or creeklet runs through the site, with this heavy handed approach to stormwater management.
Stormwater Management. Another view of the stormwater management in the creek or creeklet.