Rowville reminiscence – 40 years on.

Turn onto Wellington Rd, from what use to be called the South-Eastern Freeway, and six broad lanes take you to (or from) Rowville.

Not so long ago the boughs of gumtrees created a tunnel above you for most of the drive along Wellington Rd which curled and guided you along the natural undulations up to meet Stud Rd.

Today the clear line of bitumen presents the decapitated brow of the foothills of Lysterfield.

Just a few kilometres further along, where the old road used to dip down and where flood waters often rose high enough to stop our access to school, the road now lifts seamlessly over the new Eastern Link Freeway which offers motorists and transporters a comfortable journey over miles of smothered natural flood plain.

A once steep incline at the corner of Stud and Wellington Rds, which twisted up onto a wooded outcrop and where we’d stop on our horses under the cover of trees until the rain passed before we went on up to Taylor’s Lane, is now razed for easy access to a  7/11 and a Hungry Jacks.

Take the road left up to the old school and once farmed grassland is now buried by oversized houses with little gardens. There are few trees now, but stumps and unkempt lawn around the high school (secondary college) only gives a glimpse of the once arcadia of a bushland playground.

So we, who led the first urban exodus from Melbourne to find more space in Rowville, inevitably drew more and more people after us.

Mum used to say she loved the smell of the mountain and that she always felt on holiday there . There were mists and fogs in winter.

Insects, butterflies and birds filled the air with sound and colour in spring. Today it is another land.

**

 

****

Recalling what Rowville was like not so long ago – although it sounds so idyllic it might have been the 19th Century – and coming to terms with the place today is a harsh reflection.

Mostly I am trying to understand why this is a common story of the Australian urban migrant into the new peri-urban world – that we so happily and recklessly take an environment which we love and live in and turn it into somewhere which may even become a place where we don’t really want to be.

Or is it that we just don’t see this change because it is incremental and we feel that each small piece won’t matter?

Whatever the answer to this human conundrum I had a great time at the Rowville Primary School 40th Birthday Party tonight.

While the school has both expanded and been impinged upon by the Secondary School and the bush is gone, it still looks like a cocoon which every kid must love to go to each day.

The ‘old’ early building is still there – refurbished brightly and warmly compared with its fairly austere beginnings.

And they’re immensely proud of their heritage as a bush school with a treasured lizard logo after the blue tongue lizards we used to find in the playground. Look at that cake!

So there is still plenty of heart, soul and passion in the Rowville school community and that’s a wonderful thing to see.

****

The school really kindly posted my story about my first day at school, the Rope Swing, so their history is just as valued as any great school of much longer standing.

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