Balancing Act
Perth Poetry Festival Gala

Of Lakes

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I've been watching Lakshmi R Kanchi (aka Soul Reserve) posting about the Cockburn wetlands and all the amazing events she created when she was their poet in residence. I wanted so badly to visit this beautiful place and this morning my dream came true!

Her husband Ro picked me up from my digs and along with the Washington State poet Laureate, Arianne True and her fiancee Liz, we headed out of town. On our way out, we drove past the Derbal Yarrigan / Swan river which is huge! After the Birrarung Mar in Naarm, I was so surprised to see this mighty river. It looks more like Sydney harbour than a river! We headed south along the coast, stopping at Cottesloe along the way to meet the Indian Ocean. Ro was a great guide telling us so many stories about the places we were driving through. 

The wetlands centre in Cockburn is on land that was going to be cut through by a major highway but local residents and scientists banded together to save the bushland. They established the wetlands centre to educate locals, especially children about the beauty and value of the swampy area containing two unique lakes and eco systems. This idea worked because when the government again tried to develop the area, the kickback from voters was immense, stopping the roads and saving the lakes.

On our arrival at the wetlands in Cockburn we were met by Lakshmi, Jaya Penelope and the WA Poets Micro Poet in Residence, Gillian . The centre is a beautiful building that until recently was shared by many local groups, including their oldest scout group in WA. They have just finished the display in the entrance which is filled with imagery and captions in Noongar. Ro introduced us to many of the people working in the wetlands centre, including some of those who fought to save it.

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We then walked through the bush to the lake. As we walked along the path about twenty metres (I think, but I'm hopeless at estimating distances!), a kwenda/bandicoot, scurried across the path behind us. It's not often that you see mammals out and about in the middle of the day (except for homo. sapiens that is). As we walked, accompanied by bird song my eyes were everywhere, drinking it all in. Seeing the details, noticing the little things and the big. Trying to see what is different and what is the same. The soil was sandy and the trees were familiar but different.

I was hoping to see some new birds but there were a lot of familiar faces. Kookaburras, fairy wrens, magpies, galahs, ravens and on the lake Eurasian coots, black swans and purple swamp hens. Walking back along the boardwalk from the lake I spotted some smaller birds in the bushes. And then later, some of the endangered black cockatoos flew over the Wetlands centre. After our walk we were treated to a traditional  Aussie BBQ cooked by the volunteers. And we met some alpine dingoes.

It was so good to be out of the city. To be in the bush. To be walking the naked land.

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Lakshmi's poetry residency has ended and as a farewell gift she left a poetry trail around the wetlands. these boxes contain treasures, writing prompts, waterproof pencils and notebooks so you can add your poetry to the collection. A wonderful idea and a great legacy for a remarkable year of poetry from a brilliant poet.