The river that nearly died of shame

That’s the Cook’s River, which I now live quite near.

Historian Ian Tyrrell contemplated this title for his eco-history of the river, published earlier this year under the more encouraging title River Dreams. It’s a fascinating read, though Tyrrell makes an odd reference to the episcopal[ian?] church at one point, presumably reaching out to a (surely fairly small) US readership.

Perhaps one reason he rejected the title is that it is equivocal what could constitute life or death for a river which for much of its length remains basically an open stormwater drain with concrete or steel-piled banks and a paved bottom.

When I walk across it on the way to Canterbury Railway Station, I can observe the flow of the tide by the flotsam of plastic drink bottles and other detritus which floats in and out with the tide. The reviving mangrove roots trap more rubbish again.

About six weeks ago someone drove a car off the bridge into the river. I still can’t work out how he did it. Amazingly, he escaped reportedly unscathed.

Not so the car or the bridge.



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