A rubbish dump, a potential gold mine or an environmental treasure.
Opinions on the Bendigo Creek and its uses vary wildly, but most would agree some form of change is needed.
As the City of Greater Bendigo calls for public help to create a 50-year vision for the creek, the Bendigo Advertiser considers some long-term options for the waterway.
Cycling groups have long argued for greater connectedness of the creek.
Shared paths surrounding the waterway would improve recreational uses of the creek, and help populate an often forgotten area, cyclists say.
It does appear recreational benefits of the creek will be supported by the COGB.
In announcing their Reimagining Bendigo Creek collaborative project late last year the council said two working groups will focus on a number of areas including; ecology, water, management, infrastructure, cultural heritage, tourism, transport, walking and cycling.
Mayor Margaret O’Rourke described the project as a “once in a generation opportunity”.
“We want people to tell us what aspects they value the most about the creek and identify areas that they regard as special. This will help us build a conceptual vision for the creek for the next generation,” she said.
“We’re looking for people in the community who have different interests, backgrounds or specialist knowledge of the Bendigo Creek to join our workshops which will meet approximately five times over the course of the one year project.
“We want to create a cherished place within the city landscape where the community and visitors can come together and celebrate the creek’s unique natural environment and heritage.”
One potential stumbling block in the natural vision for the creek could be the interests of various mining groups.
Many are still of the opinion residual gold from the 19th century gold rush remains in the creek and its surrounds.
The state’s mining regulator in April gave conditional approval for a plan to recover gold from mine tailings near the Bendigo Creek in Huntly.
Earth Resources Regulation granted a mining licence to Eaglehawk-based company Twenty-Seventh Yeneb Pty Ltd for the 110 hectare site, located west of the township near Leans Road.
Environmental groups and those living close to the site raised concerns after plans were revealed.
Bendigo and District Environmental Council mining spokesperson Simon Perrin said the idea, in principle, would be damaging for the creek, suggesting mine tailings contained toxic materials.
“Your essentially mobilising toxic material that shouldn't be disturbed unless your separating those out and treating them as well,” he said.
“There will be a significant impact on the vegetation out there.”
A spokesperson for ERR at the time said a detailed work plan will need to be submitted for environmental assessment by Earth Resources Regulation and other agencies including Parks Victoria, Goulburn Murray Water, EPA and the City of Greater Bendigo.
The company is yet to lodge a planning application with the City of Greater Bendigo, but has promised to rehabilitate the land to create wetlands if the project is approved.
It’s understood a smaller mining group is considering another project close to another section of the creek, but no formal application to ERR has been lodged yet.
Work already underway
The Bendigo Creek Project, a collaborative plan between the North Central Catchment Management Authority and traditional owners from the Dja Dja Wurrung community, has improved the habitat for native flora and fauna through restoration works.
The project, known as Wanyarram Dhelk in the local Indigenous language, meaning “good waterhole”, has increased the cultural values of the project sites by reintroducing culturally significant food and fibre plants back into country.
Read more: Bendigo Creek cash splash
The Bendigo Creek also formed part of a recent investigation into how Bendigo could transition itself to a water-sensitive city.
To submit expressions of interest for the COGB working groups, visit www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/bendigocreek
The closing date for EOI is January 31.
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