17 June, 2014

Branching out - Cargerie Creek

Recently I had an opportunity to walk the course of a part of the Barwon River catchment which I had not seen before: Cargerie Creek. This little creek rises outside of Elaine and runs down through local farmland to confluence with the Leigh River on private land almost 3km south west of the Meredith-Mount Mercer Road.

Cargerie Creek
For the first few kilometres, the watercourse is shallow, however it soon becomes quite steep and rocky.
Cargerie Creek looking south from below the Mt Mercer-Meredith Road
Cargerie Creek, further south
This history of this little creek is similar to that of much of the district. Prior to European settlement, the creek flowed through the lands of the Wathaurong people who lived, hunted and gathered their food along its banks. This is attested to in the Journal and proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales (1877-1884) where the presence of indigenous cooking mounds (described in some detail) were noted along the banks of Cargerie and Woodbourne Creeks. Whether any indication of their existence still remains, I do not know.
The arrival of European settlers in the area saw Cargerie Creek incorporated into the large squatting runs which were taken up in the area. I have not been able to determine exact boundaries however the creek itself may well have formed the dividing line between the more northerly run of George F. Read Jnr known as Cargerie and the more southerly Woodbourne No. 2 Run held initially by the Wilson brothers and then by William James Reid.
The track leading down to the confluence of Cargerie Creek and the Leigh River
In the wake of the squatters, selectors moved into the district during the 1870s. It was at this time that much of the land along the west bank of Cargerie Creek was purchased by the Nolan family whose descendants remain on the property to the present day but whose initial purchase appears to have been a small block of land on the banks of the creek several decades earlier in 1839. East of the creek, things were a little slower to get moving, with that land (including the property I grew up on) not selected until the last few decades of the 19th century.
The lower end of Cargerie Creek is similar to the Leigh and Moorabool Rivers in that it runs through a deep channel which I assume would cause the water level to rise quickly in times of flood which is certainly the case for the Leigh a little further downstream.

Looking up the Leigh River near the confluence with Cargerie Creek
Looking down the Leigh River just above the confluence with Cargerie Creek
Below the confluence of creek and river, the channel remains steep and rocky whilst the land around is relatively flat.

The Leigh below Cargerie Creek
Walking beside the river, there are expansive views across the surrounding farmland and the occasional sign of the earlier days of European settlement.

Abandoned hut on the Leigh River below Cargerie Creek
Below the creek, the Leigh meanders first south and then south east to meet Wilsons/Woodbourne Creek several kilometres downstream. Our walk on this occasion, took us almost 3km past Cargerie Creek along the Leigh to a little ford which lead us to the property of our guide for the day (Marg Cooper) on the opposite side of the river.

Ford on the Leigh River

Looking upstream from the ford

Downstream of the ford
Whilst the ford marked the extent of our walk, the conjunction with Wilsons Creek is  further 10km downstream following the watercourse or a distance of less than 7km via the direct route, but that walk will have to wait for another day.

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