Stories from my Dad Wal and his friend Ted Cheal used to fascinate me. They told me of people going walkabout. In a literal sense, that simply means that someone had gone for a walk. But back in 1986 when I was relatively new to Australian colloquialism, I didn’t know that it had a vast meaning. And vast meaning indeed; it also meant that someone had gone on a very long trek!
In the same year, the movie ‘Crocodile Dundee’ came out. It was actually based on a true story about Rodney Ansell who went walkabout … for a few months. So, “walkabout” means going places. I dreamt of doing the same thing so fast track to 2013 and I did my own walkabout. It wasn’t a very long one.
If you don’t step out of your own backyard, you’ll never know how much beauty and nature has been preserved. Australians tend to be a bit more disciplined when it comes to nature and so one day, I went to Google maps to see where I could go walkabout, but still be within the comforts and confines of suburban amenities. I found Parabianga Reserve at Wentworthville.
I wasn’t expecting much more than a typical reserve that had green grass and some trees. But when I carefully and quietly made my way about, I thought that a bunch of people that had been collecting blue plastic bottle caps had dumped their collection in the park! Then it hit me – the circular pattern of the blue bottle caps meant that there was purpose and deliberation, and so then I noticed the bower in the middle of it!
Bowerbirds and their bowers are usually only found in National Parks where human interference is unlikely and here I was staring at one. I thought I’d sit around quietly to see if the bowerbird would come but all I heard was someone laughing at me. I looked around and then I realised that a kookaburra had been the lone sentry observing my every move.
See for yourself! Go to the end of Clarence Street at Wentworthville. You’ll know that you’re in the right spot when you see a tropically designed house on the left hand side. Park your car and go out n’ back to the footpath on the left. If you look carefully as you walk off the concrete path, you’ll see a shopping trolley cleverly hidden behind a tree. Just near that will be the bowerbird nest. You’ll also see some beautiful flower and bugs.
Follow the path to the right, along the creek and you’ll see a timber footbridge. Cross the bridge when you get there and step into the bush. Sections of it are dense enough that the light can only stream through sections of tree branches. Carefully make your way down to Toongabbie Creek and if you’re quiet and still, the fish might jump for you. Take your camera … plenty to see … if you want to go walkabout.