Janine Whyte penned a poem on growing up in Altona West in the 1970s. In this poem, references are made to various places – the playground in Apex Park, the fenced-in Truganina Explosives Reserve with its tramway, magazine and pier, the coast running from Altona to Werribee South and Altona Meadows which at that time was just subdivided for residential development. Local plants and animals mentioned in this poem include the Emperor Gum Moth, Pigface, Melaleuca quinquenervia trees (which can be found abundantly along Belmar Avenue), Eucalyptus tree, seagrass, frog and brown snake. This poem describes vivid scenes of a multicultural school, Altona’s industries, coal deposits in Altona, rotting seaweeds on the shores and “New Australians” climbing field fences on Sundays.
|Photo by eyeweed||Growing alongside Truganina
– ‘the swamp’ in 1970 –
where frogs croak under dark grey loam,
found with brown coal in backyard diggings.
|Photo by Anthony|
|Photo by D.Morley||Larvae of the Emperor Gum Moth
moves like plump green fingers.
Pigface sprawls succulent on vacant blocks.
|Photo by F.Cuenca|
|Photo by Fir0002||Melaleuca paperbarks peel on nature-strips.
Outlying streets cut across tawny paddocks
of tussock, thistle and basalt rock.
|Photo by T.Lieser|
|Photo by Nussbox||‘New Australians’
climb field fences on Sunday
to harvest ‘weeds’
as we feast on roast potatoes, lamb and peas.
|Photo by Dave B|
|Photo by wanderer||Seagrass washed to the shore
rots in layers
so deep, so long
thongs are lost in black muck
when retrieving sinking feet.
|Photo by P.Burgess|
|Timber train carriages
in Apex playground.
Magazine jetty with burns and
|rusted tracks over the sea.
A corrugated fence guarded explosives
and keeps the mystery.
|Photo by Anthony||History is quiet with subtle leads,
wanting to follow the water’s edge,
continuing the curve into Werribee.
|Photo by Benjamin|
|Photo by S.Goblin||Wide miles of winnowing grass
grace the ‘Meadows’
where lone wolf eucalypts
stand brave on a subdivided plain.
|Photo by artcatcher|
|Photo by Greg||No house, no road yet
disturbs the brown snake.
|Photo by teejaybee|
|Photo by Louise||Growing alongside Truganina
and aggressive industry,
Schoolfriends are Italian, Dutch, Maltese.
The land – already so shackled –
could only whisper of Volcano and Aborigine.
|Photo by B.Dieu|
Acknowledgement – I wish to express my thanks to Merrill Findlay for allowing me to reproduce this poem. The original poem can be found on this page.