Concrete Creeks. Excursion 8. The tunnel of love.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Today we pick up where we left off just a few days ago at Chester Street footbridge, to see if it’s possible to walk beside Johnstons Creek canal as far as Booth Street. We find there is public access behind houses but the ground is rough and covered with leaves from overhanging trees. Garden rubbish tossed over from backyards, most of it large palm fronds, makes the going tougher. Mosquitoes are biting in the shade but ahead the canal makes an elegant S-curve and, backlit by the autumn sun, the arch under Booth Street becomes a Tunnel of Love.

We scramble up to the roadway via another mini-reserve, this one called Badu Park. Cyclone fencing, orange plastic barriers and a roadside port-a-loo signal that the bridge is a construction site. It’s being widened, the notices on the fences say, and will have better footpaths and a bike path. Hopefully the two present-day councils responsible came to an agreement about who paid for what without the years of bitter feuding and name-calling that went on between Leichhardt and Camperdown Councils when the present bridge was built around 1898 to replace an old wooden bridge.

Beside the canal where it emerges from under the bridge there is a quaint brick and sandstone Federation-style building, partially hidden by trees and fences. It’s SPS 3 or, as I later confirm from Sydney Water’s heritage listings, Sewage Pumping Station No.3 built around 1901.

To get a better look at SPS 3, I walk down a stump of a road and across a small bridge below the level of Booth Street. From here I can also see where the canal continues around a bend before it is joined by Orphan School Creek near Wigram Road. That confluence was the location for one or our earlier excursions.

This is as far as we are going today. There’s a cafĂ© nearby but if we want coffee we must line up in an orderly and properly distanced queue.

Postscript. By coincidence, in the following morning’s Sydney Morning Herald there’s an article about a $20 million scheme to upgrade small public spaces in Sydney’s inner west. One of the projects is a shared pedestrian and cycle path to be constructed along Johnstons Creek from Wigram Road to Chester Street. That’s the same rocky route we have just taken. Soon there will be no tossing of dead palm fronds over back fences.

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