Barrm Birrm, the place of many yam roots, lies 2.4 kilometres up Gap Road from Riddells Creek Main Road, and it is a lovely place for that simple pass-time of walking in the bush. You'll have the place to yourself. The dog walkers sometimes carry on Gap Road into Barrm Birrm, and do a stretch up the hill to its steep part then down again, but they don't seem to venture sideways along the slopes. In 4 years of walking semi-regularly, I have come upon other walkers perhaps 4 times, and one of those was the Field Naturalists from Keilor Plains, chattering away and stopping intermittently to murmur over plants.
It's strange that more people from Riddells don't venture out, for one of the lovely things about Barrm Birrm is its choice of tracks. It has them running every which way, to suit you style of walking. The roads put in for the failed development of the 1970s have now descended into muddy traps in the gullies, with new tracks made around the deep pools for the less adventurous, a reminder of the human folly that spawned the creation of this estate.
These same roads nevertheless form a firm boulevard on higher ground, as they head up and along the ridges, very suitable for talking and walking with guests after a boozy lunch, or in the twilight before dinner.
Running laterally across the slopes, the main road also provide access to the many other tracks that give off into the bush. There are tracks running straight up and down the slope, connecting to the other laterals, and narrow tracks made by motor bike riders seeking more difficult passage.
The fragile alliance of plant life and topsoil broken, these tracks are slowly but inevitably eroding, each season washing more clay away and exposing the broken river aggregate from which this part of the Macedon is made. In Conglomerate gully, those stones are fused together, but here they have no binding, and the eroding tracks make for stony and difficult walking.
Wandering less directly across the slopes are the tracks made by the people with horses, who sought out an alternative to the stony tracks, and took their horses through untouched bush. Since the horse people sold up, these tracks are happily stabilising, the grasses returning slowly, but they provide a soft track underfoot, and make for a slow movement through the bush.
Then there are the animal tracks, that give themselves up only when you've spent a bit of time in the bush, and become comfortable there. I took me good while walking here to see this lacework of movement, made by the permanent residents of Barrm Birrm, the wallabies and Eastern Grey Kangaroo. Their tracks traverse the slopes in gentle lines, undeterred by fallen timber and low hanging branches. Stepping over and through these obstacles, they make for the most intimate journey.
Walking any other track, you'll come across these soft-footed pathways, giving off to one side, and when you look, yes there it is on the other side, coming through and crossing right here. Now there's an invitation, to leave the main path and follow the wallaby, the living presence of the bush quiet around you, available.
Check out Riddells Landcare's blog http://nutsaboutnaturercl.blogspot.com.au/ for photos of the tracks of Barrm Birrm.
Join us for an “every now and then” working bee, where we do fun things like cut up trees that have fallen on track, to avoid impatient motorcyclists and 4WDers driving around the timber and making more tracks. Or poisoning sweet potostrum. Give me call to put yourself on our mailing list.
Ross Colliver, Riddells Creek Landcare, 0411226519