Touching this earth lightly


Most evenings, I take the dog for a walk near my home. This means that there is period on most days that I am reminded that I currently live in one of the most beautiful parts of the most wonderful cities in the whole world. I am very grateful for this fact. The coastline nearby, which is on Boonwurrung country, is a stunning diversity of marine, plant, bird, and reptile life. Over recent years, local community groups and responsible residents, Parks Victoria, the state government, schools and universities, and others, have worked hard to recover, re-create, care for, and protect a precious part of it.

It is heartbreaking therefore to see people despoiling the beautiful gift that is the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary. An apparently ‘forgotten and unspoilt place’, this small section of coastline is usually teeming with bird and marine life. But on warmer days, the world’s most destructive creature arrives in significant numbers, and our feathered friends are pushed to the edges. I assume the fish nick off too.

This, as they say, is the nature of things.

It’s wonderful to see (mostly) local people enjoying this special place. But I never cease to marvel at the levels of insouciance that must be required in order to think (if thinking is indeed involved at all) that taking a dump in your own backyard might be a good thing. What kind of creature does this to its own habitat, its own world?


I stood there today and wept at what I saw. It was not for the first time. It was unlikely to be for the last time.

Love does stuff like that. I love this place. I want our great grandchildren and our neighbour’s great grandchildren to be able to love it too. I want us to live with the pelicans, swans, snapper, and urchins. Perhaps the feeling is mutual? But this means, as this country’s first people wisely put it, ‘One must touch this earth lightly’.

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