You've probably driven past it without a second thought. St Kilda Junction is used as a gateway to ferry busy commuters to and from work. But it also houses one of Melbourne's oldest living things.
Tucked away in the very south-east corner of Albert Park is the ‘Ngargee’ Tree, a 20 metre, 700 year old, river red gum tree of huge Indigenous significance. It is believed to be a meeting place for boys who for hundreds of years, would embark on initiation journeys. Women would also meet there before heading to special places on the coast to learn birthing secrets. In recent years, the tree has stood firm despite proposed construction works and vehicle impact.
For approximately 10 years the elongated pond leading up to the tree sat empty and unloved. That was until late 2017, when Save Albert Park’s group of volunteers took it upon themselves to breathe new life into the pond. They successfully applied for a Small Poppy Neighbourhood Grant from City of Port Phillip Council and set about lining the pond and replanting the area with native vegetation.
During the lining of the pond other park visitors inquired about the project and insisted on rolling up their sleeves and lending a hand. Parks Victoria endorsed the project and contributed $500 for water plants and native vegetation around the pond.
On the day I visited, the Corroboree Tree is perfectly reﬂected in the pond, native birds drink from the pond and swoop down to bathe and a couple sit on the bench overlooking the pond and admire the view.
"The pond is now full to overflowing and the first aquatic plants have been set in place. it's being enjoying by park goers and wildlife. We hope we have provided a pond that will reﬂect the cultural signiﬁcance Ngargee Tree", said Peter, park volunteer.
My own reflection as I sat and soaked up the beauty was that, when people come together with a shared vision, great things can happen.