Jayden Archie | Environment Victoria

Donate Now

Jayden Archie: Enjoys the quieter side of nature

He's jumped off logs, swum in waterholes, dived for mussels and chased after yabbies, but for Jayden Archie, the Goulburn River is also the perfect place to enjoy the quieter side of nature.

“I’ve been going down to the river all my life,” says Jayden, 12. “At night, when you’re camping down there, you can shut your eyes and hear birdcalls, crickets, frogs, even fish splashing in the water. It’s really soothing – it helps me drift off to sleep.”

To the kids at Toolamba Primary School, just south of Shepparton, the Goulburn River is many things: a family picnic and camping spot, a local hang-out, a place to swap stories and go exploring with friends. “The river means a lot to people round here,” says Jayden. “It’s so close, we can always ride our bikes down for a swim. When it’s hot our whole family goes down there. It probably makes us healthy, having the river so close.”
Having grown up along the Goulburn, Jayden and his friends are tuned in to the river’s changing moods: seasonal shifts, safe swimming areas, the health of the water and local wildlife. He’s also one of many Toolamba residents who take a hands-on approach to protecting their waterway.

The Goulburn at Toolamba. Diving for mussels, Jayden finally got to the bottom in April of this year. “It took me five goes, it’s pretty deep so you have to hold your breath.”

This year, on Clean up Australia Day, the grade six students headed down to the river, armed with rubbish bags. Jayden was shocked at what they found. “Eighteen of us collected five big rubbish bags each, full of bottles and cans. We cleaned up a year’s worth of dumped rubbish. I couldn’t believe how much there was. It made me sick.” Now, whenever he and his pals go swimming or playing down by the river, they pick up any rubbish they find: “It’s just automatic now.”

Jayden has also joined school trips led by John Lang, head of the local Landcare group, who shows students how to check water quality along their stretch of the Goulburn: “We use microscopes to look for different kinds of nymphs and shrimps,” says Jayden.

“If you find lots of those little river bugs [macroinvertebrates], you know the river’s healthy.”

With its shady trees and waterholes, the river is a much-loved gathering point for the Toolamba community. Locals have set up their own two-day catch-and-release fishing contest, and when there’s no fire ban it’s a popular barbecue spot. When Jayden’s Nan and Pop came over from Tasmania the family got together for a riverside picnic, and when his dad comes to visit they catch up over a spot of fishing.

Toolamba relies on the Goulburn for its household water, so residents feel a direct link to the river and its natural environment. At Jayden’s school, even the youngest kids study sustainability. “This year we’re planting a nature strip and making a frog bog,” he says. “We’re lucky to live so close to the river. It’s a pretty special place. I hope people realise what we’ve got sitting right here, and look after it.”

Story by Meg Mundell, 2007.

Latest stories

Green Action stories

  • Peter owns and operates Waterwheel Wines in Bridgewater On Loddon...

  • Theo says his forefathers would be shocked by its condition...

  • Amanda Stone has a small vegetable patch at Collingwood Children’s Farm...

  • Denise Acocks stands on the riverbank, pointing out the place...

  • Robyn Grant helped stop the proposal to dam the Mitchel...

  • Keith is a BirdLife Australia representative...

  • Writer Louise Crisp searches for the answers to our environmental issues...

  • Robyn is living local, loving gardens and looking for better transport options...

  • Boorhaman Primary School paved mural is a tribute to the Ovens River...

  • Standing on the banks of the Maribyrnong River, there is a good chance that you might see the slim, blade-like hull of a rowing boat slicing its way through the calm currents...


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required


© 2016 Environment Victoria