Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Even suburban places have small bits of uncultured open space in them.

Not parks - parks are great, but they are planned, laid out, designed.

Not built remains - derelict houses and secretive laneways are fun, fuel for the imagination, but they are human remnants nonetheless.

No, I mean patches or stretches of land that's "unimproved" (strange word, that. As if the human footprint is of necessity an improvement).

Sometimes - often - you find these scraps of country alongside waterways or the foreshore.

Sometimes the land is boggy, or low-lying, or in some other way unsuitable for development.

Sometimes it's protected, because of flora or fauna, or water quality preservation, or any other thing, and thus safe from being cultivated, shaped, bent around to a need. (At least for now).

Sometimes it is made to serve purposes - both those that authority intends, and those that people impose, from the dismal dumping of rubbish to the illicit but blood-stirring low roar of dirt bikes.

Sometimes it's clasped between houses and factories, train lines and freeways, in a smooth bowl of stillness. A world between the worlds.

Sometimes it grows coastal plants and tall, rustling reed grasses, higher than a 3 year old's head, and is starred with tiny, perfect purple flowers for just a few weeks in spring.

Sometimes the children find delicate, fingernail-sized shells, so light and fragile that a firm touch will shatter them, cast up from a receded sea.

Sometimes dogs and children need to be kept close and taught caution, in the seasons when snakes, the alpha native species of this place, are moving about.

Sometimes walking there is an adventure, and sometimes it is peace.

Always, it is more than it seems, this suburban corner with its great big sky and its whispering grass, its tiny frogs and rare blossoms, its bike trail marks and sea mud and shells and trains not so far.

It is our Littlewild.


  1. Beautiful. Richard louv, who coined the nature deficit disorder would love this piece.

  2. Oh that's beautiful. One thing I love about Darwin is all the natural bush.
    Sadly, I don't think it will be around much longer, as we become more urban. :(

  3. Beautiful. At a time when my corner of the world is being heavily developed, your words are a treasure.

  4. Lovely! I think this is a term I'm going to add to my families vocab :)