"The oftener one sees, the better one knows; the better one knows, the more one loves." Charles Kingsley
We’ve been up to the family acres for the annual family pilgrimage. Somehow or other the January time frame suits this sojourn and regardless of the weather we journey up.
Swan Hill is the destination and of late we’ve been staying across the river (That would be the Murray River for the geographically embarrassed), at the Murray Downs Golf Resort.
When I was but a mere broth of a lad, the area was mostly salt bush and mud flat, but good old ingenuity, and the application of many hundreds of thousands of dollars has transformed the area to a fine golfclub resort. And the side benefit for the average birder is that the many water features and trees has provided a suitable haven for many of the birds of area. But, more of that on another blog methinks.
A few kilometres down the road from Swan Hill is a small isolated patch of scrub, that is now incorporated into the “Goschen Roadside Reserve”.
And is wont of those in the Parks department it is now suitably fenced off to keep undesirables on the outside and protect that which is on the inside. Not that there is much to protect anymore.
And so begins the enigma. Goschen was to be a little township that happened after the first world war. (Yes, it should be in caps, but really does it deserve such honour?) Many such small communities were established. But, the one thing about Goschen is— Lack of Water (in caps because, well, it’s the singularly most important part of the enigma)
Drive just 5 more minutes down the road and you’ll come over a sandy rise and all is green before you. The result of irrigation. Water. And the rich farming area of grapes, stone fruit and citrus. Just 5 minutes. Had the water extended out to Goschen, then all would have been different and hopes and dreams would have turned to riches, instead of just being blown away like the dust.
To their credit, the early settlers and the government officials of the time, did try. A school, community hall, cricket field and tennis courts were all part of the scheme and were built. Now all that remains is a plaque for the school—and some of the old concrete flooring in the toilets—the community hall rapidly deteriorating as the fencing off has protected it somewhat from vandalism, and also meant it is ignored by the fence erectors. A search among the long grass to the east will also find the remains of the concrete cricket pitch.
The years past and the area, as often happened began to revert to its ordinary existence. And the area became a little haven for birds both local and migrants.
And another challenge. An area that can be an honeypot on occasions and frustratingly quiet on others. It’s not just a seasonal thing, nor a food thing. It’s Goschen.
Continue reading “Wrestling with the enigma that is Goschen”