ARSENIC in Bendigo Creek bears witness to the legacy mining left on the waterway.
It's among the environmental issues that plague the often-maligned creek - including the smell of rotten eggs - according to a report from the City of Greater Bendigo.
But the city's project to re-imagine the waterway has found opportunities for Bendigo to embrace the creek.
The city depends on the creek largely as a drain to manage the city's flood risk, according to the report. It follows years of degradation that began with the gold rush.
But the creek thrived under thousand years management by the Dja Dja Wurrung peoples, the report stated.
Re-imagining the creek has brought together eight stakeholder groups, among them the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation.
Chair of the Reimagining Bendigo Creek steering committee Councillor James Williams said the group aimed to change people's perceptions of the creek, to create a shared vision.
Cr Williams said the support and engagement of the Dja Dja Wurrung with plans for the creek was particularly significant
The report detailed issues with the creek, and conversely its opportunities into the future.
Pollution, rising groundwater tables and the legacy left by mining, are among the issues addressed.
The creek suffers from pest plants and animals, erosion, soil contamination and salinity according to the report. Much native vegetation has been removed.
Many Bendigo residents feel a limited connection with the creek, the report stated. While it connects major parts of the city, community members reported feeling isolated and unsafe using creek paths.
But it could become a place where members of the Dja Dja Wurrung share their stories and celebrate their history.
The city has a chance to protect and enhance the ecosystem, encourage community engagement and improve water quality, according to the report.
Cr Williams said the creek was an important asset to the city, with water the city's most valuable resource into the future.
In the coming years, Cr Williams said he'd like to see the creek as a place for everyone to enjoy.
"The vision for the future is a place that engages the environment, is warm and welcoming and creates an environment that people can embrace and feel safe in, and also animals, birds the whole lot," he said.
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