Thursday, March 16, 2017

Elwood Canal

People know it as Elwood Canal, but it is more correctly called Elster Creek. Gattina? What does the word elster mean in a language you know? Don't be confused by me using different nouns. It is a creek, a drain, a canal, and a waterway.

Much of Elwood was swamp land. some as low as two metres above sea level. It is prone to flooding as a large amount of water flows from many directions to the Elwood Canal and then drains into the sea. My prime motivation for walking the not too far length of the exposed canal was that I remember there was at least one suburban street ford and it was not where I thought it was. I did find two on a map and I wanted to have a look. I caught the 216 bus to the corner of New and Rusden Streets, in I suppose Elwood.  The first open part of the the creek that I explored runs through Elsternwick Golf Course, so I am risking been knocked on the noggin by a stray golf ball, but that was to be my starting point.

A quite interesting house near where I left the bus.

I did not know there were housing commission flats here, that is state owned public housing. It is a an expensive area to buy or rent in.

I had checked using Google Street View and this gate was unlocked and open, appearing as if it was never shut or locked. Well, this has stymied me.

Oh, it does not look very enticing.

Further upstream when I crossed back over the road, it is a very wide constructed drain.

So I had to divert around the golf course, not such a bad thing and no longer at risk of golf ball concussion. This is a nice picnicking shelter, with a barbeque.

With flooding being a big problem, some of this park and lake is lower than the banks of the canal and acts as flood water retaining basin.

Here is where water will spread out from the creek across the flat land.

Oh yes, I went out to take photos, without my camera. Idiot. I had to make do with the phone camera and there were a number of out of focus photos and many of the photos aren't so good.

I am now standing in St Kilda Street, looking upstream in the golf course. Apparently the bridge I am standing on was designed by Sir John Monash. He was a respected local engineer and we have many things named after him, such as Monash Freeway, Monash University, Monash Hospital.

There is now on an excellent and well used path along the edge of the canal. I soon reached the Foam Street ford. A small drain goes under the road but if there is an excess of water, it just flows over the well laid paving. Note the flood depth indicator.

The water is now flowing in a bluestone block lined channel.

The transparent plastic around the tree is probably to prevent possums climbing to the upper branches. I have no idea what the lower device is, but clearly something to do with wildlife. Its centre is hollow.

Here is the second ford, at Wave Street.

How good that this old tree trunk was kept. I cannot guess why the earth around the tree is bare. Later: This is believed to be an Aboriginal scar tree, a tree scarred by Aborigines removing bark to use for various purposes, including making canoes.

It is all looking quite neat now. I had to cross to the other side of canal now and join Paul Hester Walk. Hester was a well known musician and a member of the bands Split Enz and Crowded House and a local resident. He suicided in 2005 and the path was named in memoriam.

Looking upstream on the far side of Glenhuntly Road.

Gee, it is not the most attractive at this point.

I would imagine it is now tidal here. I can smell rotting seaweed and note the dumped shopping trolley.

For launching some sort of boat.

Right along the banks massive drains empty into the canal. If there is a king tide (high tide) combined with lots of rain, the water banks back up in the drains and floods local streets and at times houses. This water bird had spied something interesting and ran along the canal bed.

More drains and plenty of sandy silt on the canal bed now. Note the graffiti with the name Sinch. Sinch was a graffitist and was killed while on a train roof near Balaclava Station.

A couple of litter traps.

I came across this attractive 1960s flat block and remembered I had a female friend who once lived there and I visited her a few times here. I think I was about 19 years old then. Are they are crepe myrtles blooming in the garden? This is the only building that I saw that faced the canal.

This was a bit sad. It took four shots to capture it all with the phone but you don't need to see them all. It says, "People used to dump unwanted animals into the canal. You would always know it was a dog as all the neighbourhood pooches would start howling. We'd go out and rescue them".

 This seagull was puddling the silt.

At a couple of bridges were these lengths of concrete before and after the bridges. Investigation required. They look very old and I am sure there is some earlier history to them.

Difficult to see, but there are eye hooks in the canal walls, for tying up watercraft.

Tis a queer thing that this Ruskin Street two way bridge was turned into a one car at a time bridge, with some of the former space used for a bicycle lane. It is such a quiet street, I am not sure why the bicycle lane was needed.

I've now reached Marine Parade and just beyond the canal flows into Port Phillip Bay.

A footbridge joining two large beachside grass reserves of land claimed from the sea where the canal flows into the bay. I am a bit curious about what the canal looks like at high tide.

I turned around, looking back towards Barkly Street.

I found another inscription, a little more pleasant than the last. "There have always been dreams for the Elwood Canal. In the 1880s they wanted to transform the waterway into a little Venice and have gondolas plying up and down the canal."

I caught the 246 bus to Acland Street with a heap of black African heritage school children and then had some afternoon tea, and caught the 16 tram home.

Later edit: HRH Prince Charles once swam in the sea near the Elwood Canal and suggested it was like swimming in diluted sewerage. It probably was back then, and at times of flood, possibly still is.


  1. A mostly very enjoyable and pretty walk. Thank you.

  2. Some sections are prettier than others, but a good walk anyway. That first interesting house looks more like a school building to me.
    I like that older block of flats, nicer to look at than the one I live in, the trees are crepe myrtle.
    I think the Aboriginal scar tree would look nicer without the street signs and electric wires. Someone should do something about that and mark it a heritage spot.

    1. River, I forget exactly how it was phrased. It could have been 'said to be an Aboriginal scar tree'. Or maybe even 'thought to be'. Normally such a tree would marked by a sign or similar.

  3. I sent you some pics! I used to walk down to the creek a bit with my niece. It's not very attractive in parts.

    1. I agree Fen, not great in parts, but its prime function is to drain. Beautification has only been quite recent. To me, it is quite special in my memories.

  4. Super walk Andrew. You might have to brave the weather at some point when you've had lots of rain so we can see the canal a lot deeper and more Venice like ☺