Saturday, September 03, 2011

A Goat Track

A goat track might be an obvious pair of words, but it has a meaning when planners are deciding where paths go. A contractor was once telling me about some work he was doing at Monash University. The plans for a path across an open grassed area were clearly marked, but a so called goat track had already worn into the grass where the students were walking. He wanted the plans amended so that the path would be laid where the goat track had formed. His request was denied. The last time he was on the site proved the point. No one was using the path but continuing to use the goat track. Paths must go where people actually walk as the building next to us discovered.

Look at the photo. See the path enclosing the garden bed? It is kind of horse shoe shaped around the garden bed. An additional path passes through the middle of the bed. That was how it was originally.

But the it is a corner block. People were taking a short cut, across lawn to get to the path and cut off the street corner, so a short section was added that leads to the main footpath, on the left of the photo. It became a practical shortcut to cut off the corner. It was a curvy path and if you have seen the movie Mon Oncle, it was somewhat like walking the garden path to the front door of the house. I always walked on the path whereas R cut out the curve in the path and walked across the lawn.

Many people cut across the lawn and while the lawn was watered, it coped with the foot traffic, but come the drought and the water was shut off, a hard goat track was worn to shortcut the winding path. You can see the dirt area between the old and new paths.

Now a more direct path has been laid and no one will be walking on the grass anymore. The bright white new path meets the old path just out of the photo on the right. Paths need to go where people will walk, not where planners and landscapers think they should go.

A pinch of acrophobia was involved in taking this photo.


  1. Very interesting post, you have taken something that is "everyday" and turned it into a thought, given it life. From this perspective your photograph really is an interesting layer of many movements of life.

  2. Thanks Thomas. You wouldn't think you could say much about a path.

  3. Common sense - not many can haz it

  4. That is what really bugs me in life Fen, the bleeding obvious.