This has been a mixed year for the Friends of Cobbler Creek and certainly one of the
more contentious. Undoubtedly as a community group we have survived the year
well. On the other hand, despite the best efforts of our liaison ranger, the overall
level of strategic support received from the Department has disappointed. More
particularly there has been a noticeable decline in the level of commitment given to
the Cobbler Creek Stakeholder Management Group.

In my Annual Report two years ago I made the following observations: -

“The Stakeholder Management Group (SMG) still has the potential to be a powerful
mechanism for getting things done and for strengthening the relationship between
state, local government and community volunteers such as ourselves……………………….
A suitable replacement for David Plumridge has yet to be identified and our meetings
have been less regular than hitherto which has disappointed me greatly. The SMG
has been an invaluable mechanism for keeping all of the signatories to the Heads of
Agreement honest. Certainly Cobbler Creek has received excellent support from the
staff of the Adelaide Region of DEH. Salisbury Council has contributed funding and
expertise and whilst we have not yet managed to encourage CTTG to open their
treasury purse they have provided enthusiastic support through a number of their
staff. A more effective and active SMG could I believe achieve a whole lot more for
our collective communities”.

Regrettably my hopes for the SMG have not been realised. The level of supporting
staff work for the Group has fallen short of expectations, meetings have been
infrequent and there has been a noticeable lack of resolve on key issues. Certainly
there have been some very difficult water-related issues to contend with but, despite
a huge amount of time and effort on the part of FOCC members, solutions have been
difficult to find. This eventually lead to a letter being sent to the Minister for
Environment and Conservation requesting that he intervene in an attempt to find
some satisfactory resolution to the two main problems, sewage leaks and silt run-off
from an upstream residential development.

Neither issue is new. Again I quote from my Annual Report of two years ago: -

“Having found some sort of a solution to the quarry industry silt problem we are now
confronted with considerable muddy run-off from the Crouch Road development
where site-works have removed every skerrick of ground cover. Consequently when
it rains large quantities of earth and topsoil are washed into Slate Creek. This has
been reported to CTTG on a number of occasions but it is clear that proper site
maintenance by the developer is honoured more in the breach than the observance.
This issue will most likely be a serious one for the local community for some time to

and again: -

“Even more serious could be the increased incidence of sewage leaks and spills into
the creek from Spring Hill right down to the Middleton Crescent area. It has been
suggested that the infrastructure is not coping with the increased population
numbers in the Golden Grove/Greenwith area. DEH are in the process of raising this
as a potentially serious environmental and public health issue with the relevant water
authorities. We can, however, be certain that it will not be quickly or cheaply

Admittedly the issues identified are not the direct responsibility of DEH and do not
originate within Cobbler Creek Recreation Park. They do, however, seriously impact
upon the park and as the government’s primary environmental agency DEH must
surely have some duty of care to ensure that solutions are found or at least
appropriate negotiations are brokered. Only after sending a letter to the Minister
have we seen a series of inspections, meetings and discussions aimed at achieving
some sort of solutions to the water issues. This has required involving senior
executives of DEH, ministerial advisers, discussions with the Mayor of Tea Tree Gully
and intervention by Jennifer Rankine as the local Member of Parliament. Much of this
could have been short-circuited by a more pro-active approach by all parties involved
in the Stakeholder Management Group under the leadership of DEH.

More generally Friends of Cobbler Creek continues to survive although with a fairly
stable membership (I refer of course to our numbers and not our mental state!). We
are seriously considering making overtures to local schools to engender some local
support and hopefully involvement. Plenty of people seem to support our activities
and efforts but as yet we haven’t been able to find a way of converting such interest
into increased membership. This is a challenge that faces many Friends of Parks
groups and other community organisations. We need some fresh approaches.

We haven’t been as consistent in our Saturday morning working bees as in recent
years but have started to slip in the occasional Wednesday morning. We have,
morover, under the leadership of Peter Townsend, paid a number of visits to the
Teakle ruins for some further stabilisation work. Peter has been supported at various
times by John Mellor, Paul, Keith Goulsbra and Graham Douglass. We have also been
fortunate, courtesy of Keith, to access some community support from the Bunnings
Megastore on the North East Road at Modbury. The work is progressing well.

Guest speakers have been increasingly hard to find but during the year Heather has
managed to organise talks on first aid training, water harvesting and waste
management. Brian and Heather also hosted one of our monthly meetings with a
display of Cobbler Creek memorabilia and a showing of a Milhench-produced Cobbler
Creek docudrama. Heather and the President also participated in the production of a
TAFE media student’s DVD, sponsored by the City of Tea Tree Gully, about the
community benefits of the park. Paul organised an enjoyable and informative trip to
the salt flats beyond the Salisbury wetlands for a group of the Friends and Kath and
Arthur hosted the annual December sundowner at KafnArfa’s Ark. On a much more
serious but nevertheless entertaining note we also had an on-site inspection of the
Cobbler Creek pumping station and an explanation by United Water staff of the
system, operations and challenges.

Next year is our 20th anniversary and we intend planning some sort of special
celebration. The group started with a group of concerned local citizens anxious to see
the area preserved for future generations. One major highway, a telephone tower, a
large dam, an established and dismantled district headquarters and lots of
revegetation and weeding later we are still here battling to ensure some sort of
future for Cobbler Creek. That must surely be worth celebrating.
In conclusion my thanks to all of you for your support and commitment to the park
and the neighbourhood. We managed during the year to argue successfully against
possible closure of the compound and workshop area as part of the department’s
asset rationalisation program and your support in that exercise was much
appreciated. Special thanks to Steve Taylor as liaison ranger and to all DEH staff who
take care of slashing, collection of rubbish and removal of graffiti. Volunteers and
staff working together can achieve a huge amount and I look forward to that
relationship going from strength to strength in the year ahead. Who knows, by this
time next year we may even be able to look forward to some progress on
stormwater harvesting.

David Mitchell
26 August 2009

To top