Friends of Cowies Creek

The Friends of Cowies Creek (FOCC) committee of management has a range of activities planned to encourage residents to enjoy the area and contribute to its care.

Weekly Creekly Walks are held every Friday morning, meeting at the end of Peacock Avenue at 9.30am for a 9.45am start. This is an inclusive group for anyone wanting to connect with their local community and place. 

A clean-up is planned for the area in front of the Wathaurong Co-op in Morgan Street on Sunday, June 13 from 10am until 1pm. The FOCC committee of management said: “Wathaurong people have been caring for this land for countless generations, this is a chance say thanks by cleaning up some rubbish that’s building up near their facility along the creek.”

In July and August, Geelong Landcare Network will hold three public tree planting days in support of Friends of Cowies Creek. The dates and locations are:

  • Sunday, July 4, 10am-1pm, on the banks of the creek closest to the end of Nowra Court. Park on The Boulevard near Arunga Avenue and access the creek from there.
  • Sunday, July 18, 10am-1pm, on the banks of the creek closest to the end of Moran Place, near Thompson Rd. Park near 29 Moran Street and access the creek path from there.
  • Sunday, August 1, 10am-1pm, on the banks of the creek closest to the end of Peacock Avenue, over the other side of the bridge.

“All are welcome at the planting days, all ages and abilities,” the committee of management said. “Even if you don’t feel up to planting any trees just come along for a chat it would be great to meet you.

“There’s always lots happening on Cowies Creek. The ground is moist as we move into winter. Things feel pretty lush. Mushrooms are popping up from under leaf litter, some migratory birds have arrived, such as the Golden Whistler. Wattles are set to start flowering soon. Keep an eye out for the yellow puffs. “What have you observed on the creek? We’d love to know. Contact us on Facebook or email”

Country music with a charity focus

Norlane resident Eric Cook has been sharing his passion for country music for almost 24 years, at the same time raising money for charity.

Eric said he’d always enjoyed listening to country music and discovered Geelong Country Music about 30 years ago. “I was raising my four boys on my own then, and as well as getting to enjoy country music, I got a lot of support from people in the group,” he said. “I found my community there.”

Initially, Eric wasn’t a performer but concentrated on helping the club stage shows for walk-up artists, giving them a chance to perform and enjoy the music. 

“I started singing and playing guitar about 20 years ago,” he said. “I thought I’d give it a go. Back in those days everyone was supportive, so I took that step.” 

For almost 24 years Eric has been running Pleasant Sunday Country events for walk-up performers. A house band supports anyone who wants to “come and have a go”.

“I never know where they are coming from,” he said. “They might come from Geelong, Melbourne, Shepparton, Bendigo, Ballarat and anywhere in between. It’s just a fun day.”

Proceeds of the monthly shows are donated to charity and profits this year will be donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. 

Pleasant Sunday Country shows are held on the third Sunday of the month at The Sphinx in North Geelong. The show runs from 1pm until 5pm and also includes raffles and door prizes. Entry is $8. Doors open early and meals are available.

Corio volunteer awarded

Corio Victoria State Emergency (VICSES) Unit Deputy Controller Felicity Hughes was recently announced as the recipient of the prestigious Fred Grove Memorial Award.

Celebrations were held at the Lara Sporting Club, with Ambulance Victoria, Country Fire Authority (CFA), and Victoria Police also among the recipients, each awarded for their dedication and commitment to their communities. 

The Fred Grove Memorial Award is in memory of Fred Grove, a much-loved and highly regarded member of Lara’s emergency services and broader community. A CFA volunteer for 52 years, Fred also served as a Victoria Police member for more than 40 years and was an active Rotarian for more than 25 years. 

As recipient of the award, Felicity was recognised for her commitment to community and for going above and beyond as a VICSES volunteer. She is a well-respected leader and role model within the unit, throwing herself at any challenge that comes her way. 

Consistently making herself available to attend incidents day or night, Felicity has attended more than 400 requests for assistance in her volunteer career,144 of these in 2020 alone.

In addition to attending operational incidents, Felicity also dedicates her time to training fellow members and assisting in managing the day-to-day operations of the unit. 

In her role as Deputy Controller – Operations, Felicity is responsible for ensuring the readiness of the Corio Unit for all emergency operations – from maintenance and restocking to strategic planning and positioning of personnel and assets for emergencies.

VICSES Assistant Chief Officer, Nick Cowham, said: “Felicity is the epitome of what it means to be a VICSES volunteer. Her dedication to the service and the community is truly outstanding. Felicity’s passion, leadership and dedication to developing our members is truly commendable.

“Felicity’s unwavering passion for her community and commitment to ensuring the VICSES Corio Unit continues to support them in emergencies, makes her a fitting recipient of the Fred Grove Memorial Award.”

Trevor to the rescue

Corio author John Smithers is celebrating publishing his first children’s book and plans for a television series.

John has written six books in the Trevor The Tram series, with fellow train enthusiast David Barnes the illustrator. The first to be printed, Trevor The Tram and the little lost boy, has been well received by children, parents and educators.

“Trevor was inspired by a procession of W Class trams I encountered while working as a railway signalman in Melbourne one night,” John said. “The name stuck and inspired the stories.”

John said Trevor is a helpful tram who comes to the rescue, including when other modes of transport fail.  

“The first book took me about a week to write and 12 to 18 months to have David complete the illustrations,” John said. “I’ve learnt a lot about self-publishing and I’m happy to say the printing was done here in Geelong.”

In a recent development, John has signed a deal with Matt Poidevin Pictures, which is planning to produce a children’s TV series of the books. John will retain artistic control and hold all rights to the children’s book series.  He’s hoping Trevor could become Australia’s answer to Thomas the Tank Engine.To order a copy of Trevor The Tram and the little lost boy, go to

Bringing lantern trail to life

Community members contributed to a northern suburbs art project celebrating the winter solstice, by working with artists to create colourful objects from recycled plastic bottle tops and bottles.

Norlane, Rosewall and Cloverdale community centres hosted artists Beth McMahon and Mike Bevitt from the indirect Object, and community members, as they made large-scale recycled plastic lanterns and flowers for the June solstice illuminated lantern trail.

Over three months from late March, the indirect Object artists worked at Norlane and Cloverdale to design and make four large sculptural lanterns and a field of 400 flowers from recycled plastics collected and donated by the community.

To coincide with the winter solstice, the lanterns were illuminated and displayed together as the North Geelong Community Lantern Trail. The lanterns will be returned to the community centres to become solar-powered illuminated artworks and play spaces.

Beth said the team was delighted with the welcome they received at the community centres and the participation of a wide range of people.  

​Founded in 2006, the indirect Object is an award-winning arts group creating original interactive and immersive experiences for non-traditional spaces. They create works for children, families, the general public and adults. 

Funding for the North Geelong Community Lantern Trail project was provided by the City of Greater Geelong. 

Summer gardening ideas

Here we go with a brand-new year, which just has to be better than 2020.

What better way to celebrate than to create a pretty, productive garden to keep our spirits up and lower our living costs with fresh, full of flavor, home grown vegetables, surrounded by colourful scented flowers.

Number one after the new year is to plant some new tomato seedlings to ensure you can harvest a second crop later in the autumn. Our summer season has been forecast to last longer than usual and nothing sets off a salad better than home-grown tomatoes. Any excess tomatoes can always be frozen for use in winter casseroles or to make your own tomato sauce.

Most gardens have a shady area where you despair of ever growing something nice, but some plants prefer such a spot. A spectacular example is a Clivia, which comes in several shades from pale lemon to bright red and show to advantage against the bright green strappy leaves.

An added benefit is that they don’t require much water and don’t suffer much damage from slugs, snails and other pests. Upkeep is easy as they clump and they can stay in the same place and keep flowering for many years and stay green all year round, definitely a win/win situation.

One tip to remember is very simple – if using pine bark or wood chips as mulch, mix in a nitrogen-rich fertilizer before applying to the garden beds. This replaces the nitrogen lost from the soil in the process of the mulch breaking down and your plants will thrive instead of being deprived of this essential element.

Another couple of tips to make your summer easier and to ensure your plants get the best care and yield good results. Always water early in the day if possible, which makes sure the plants get the moisture required during the heat of the day.

Watering at night encourages insect life, particularly mosquitoes, which are tipped to be very bad this year. If the soil is shrinking away from the sides of your pots, soak them in a large container full of water that comes over the top of the pot until all the bubbles stop – these bubbles show that your pot has dried out. You can put a bit of liquid fertilizer in the water, which does two jobs in one.

St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally the time to plant sweet peas for the winter colour burst. What is more cheerful on a cold winter’s day than a vase of beautiful, sweet smelling sweet peas? Add some lime and well-rotted compost to the area where you want to plant the seeds.

Save money this year and plant seeds of winter vegies such as cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, silver beet and onions to name a few. These will then be ready to plant out at a later date, instead of buying seedlings, giving you a head start on the cooler weather and leaving more cash in your pocket. Other things to plant include broad beans, leeks, lettuce, radish, spring onions, parsnips and turnips.

Volunteer program a winner

Rosewall Neighbourhood Centre is celebrating the work of its volunteers after winning the 2020 Learn Local Volunteer Team Award.

The Learn Local Awards are held annually to recognise outstanding achievement in a range of categories. The Volunteer Team Award is for a group of up to 10 people who have worked together on a common project and demonstrated that effective or shared effort can achieve greater outcomes.

The award nomination said: “The dynamic Rosewall Learning and Creative Team from Rosewall Neighbourhood Centre, are sowing the seeds for a successful life in their English Conversation and Sewing Group.

“This humble activity is paying big dividends for new arrivals from across the globe. The six volunteers warmly receive women from places such as Afghanistan, Iran, Cambodia, Africa, Israel and Pakistan. Many of them have been victims of persecution in their home country and are faced with marginalisation in Australia.

“As they’re taught to sew, they develop their spoken English, literacy and problem-solving skills. Financial literacy comes from exploring moneymaking ventures and developing their long-term career aspirations.

“Some of the sewn items are sold through Rosewall’s small sales table and Torquay Community House. Funds raised are used to buy haberdashery and food vouchers for needy participants.

“Importantly, friendships develop as participants work as a team and connect with community. Rosewall volunteers have a diverse range of complementary skills from sewing machine mechanics, to sewing, crafting, and delivering ESL courses.

“With personal attention and care, they’ve created a robust, enduring program that boosts the confidence, morale and employability of women who might otherwise be disengaged and isolated.”

Cloverdale Community Centre also won a Learn Local Award in 2020, for its Collaboration with The Gordon TAFE. Cloverdale created and delivered education programs to help local learners pathway to TAFE and supported TAFE students who needed extra help with language and literacy.

Connecting with community

Friends of Cowies Creek (FoCC) is a community group in Norlane whose members foster care for Cowies Creek by connecting with the local community to protect and regenerate the creek and its native biodiversity. The group holds public clean-ups and indigenous planting days.

Spokesman Lachie Chomley said members acknowledge that their activities take place on the stolen land of the Wadawurrung people and that the creek was traditionally used by the Wadawurrung people as a source of fresh water, food and medicine. 

“The creek starts in the Moorabool hills and flows through Bell Post Hill and Norlane, out into Corio Bay at Corio Quay,” Lachie said. “It is home to lots of amazing wildlife including loads of birds, reptiles, fish, insects and frogs.

“The endangered growling grass frog (featured in our logo) makes a home along the creek. You might hear them if you stay quiet; their growling sounds more like snoring.

“Near any larger body of water, you might also find our native otter, the Rakali. Look out for the white tip of its tail as it dips down underwater in search of food.”
Lachie said FoCC members believe it’s important and exciting for locals to get connected with and help protect all of the precious life along Cowies Creek, particularly as in-fill development impacts the catchment.

“Lots of people we talk to don’t even know the creek exists,” he said. “We encourage everyone to respectfully spend time by the creek and see what you discover.” 
For people who want to get more involved, FoCC organises regular events for local community to get involved. A public rubbish clean-up will be held at the Fountain of Friendship Park on Sunday, February 14 from 10am-1pm.

To stay in touch with other future events and ‘creekly’ happenings you can find the group on Facebook or email

Renee rewarded for kindness

Norlane West Scout Group member Renee Brown has been recognised for her compassion, integrity and kindness by winning the Fred Hollows Humanity Award.

The Humanity Award is a national initiative of The Fred Hollows Foundation that acknowledges Year Six students who follow in Fred’s footsteps by demonstrating humanitarian values towards others. It includes a scholarship for secondary schooling in 2021.

Renee (pictured) was nominated by Scout Leader Kim Brian, for her enthusiasm for helping others and doing the right thing.

“Renee has volunteered countless hours of her time helping those less fortunate than herself – from cooking snacks and meals for the local food bank, to collecting toys and winter clothes for the homeless,” Kim said. “She is one of our younger, quieter members but stands her ground for what she believes in.”

Kim was delighted that the nomination was successful and that Renee’s activities and experiences in Scouting helped her achieve it.

Since 2012, the Fred Hollows Humanity Award has recognised more than 1500 students who follow in Fred’s footsteps by making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Founding Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation Gabi Hollows congratulated 254 students from across the nation, for their kindness, compassion and integrity.

“This year, more than ever, it’s important to recognise these values,” Gabi Hollows said.

“So it thrills me to know that amidst everything going on in the world, The Foundation was able to celebrate these fine young leaders and highlight the differences they are making in their communities.

“Fred would have been incredibly proud of the contribution these students are making to society, no matter how big or small their actions.”

Fitness, fun and connection

A group of Northern Bay College’s Year 9 students will this year be the first in Geelong to participate in Blue Edge, the flagship program of Blue Light Victoria.

Blue Edge is based on the concept of local police members engaging with youth in positive ways. It uses a physical activity program to bring local police and students together twice-weekly.

State program co-ordinator Cathy Williams said the program includes 45-minute fitness sessions before school, where the police members are out of uniform and getting sweaty alongside the students. The fitness sessions also include team-building activities.

Following the session, the group has breakfast together where there are opportunities for the students to be mentored, learn life skills, goal setting, leadership and opportunities for them after the program – in work, social and sport settings.

Ms Williams said the program aligns well with the school’s SEED (Sports, Empowerment, Education and Development) program. She said Director of Sport Steven ‘Stoofa’ Lewry had played a key part in bringing Blue Edge to Geelong.

Acting Sergeant Shaun Johnson and Leading Senior Constable Alecia Spalding, from Corio Police, will be involved in the pilot.

Acting Sergeant Johnson, who is the co-ordinator, said he and the other officers who will be regulars are excited to be involved in the program, the first of its kind in Geelong.

“This is a way we can give back to the school,” he said. “It’s good for us to work with the kids and important for us to know the up-and-coming youth in the northern suburbs. They are the next generation of community leaders. They will be changing the face of the northern suburbs.”

Students Laura, Elmin and Josh were successful applicants and are looking forward to participating. All three are keen to develop their fitness and skills, have some fun and get to know their local police.