The Barwon Blog, Jo

Out with the oars and the Alice,

And homeward let us glide

Up with the brisk south-easter,

Up with the swirling tide:

The Barwon Heads and the ocean

Soon shall we leave astern,

And the hills with the wattle waving

Over the crimson fern —    © James Lister Cuthbertson.

Poetry features in the Barwon Blog published by Jo Mitchell. The Barwon Blog is about anything and everything to do with Barwon River. Geelong resident and founder of the Barwon Blog, Jo Mitchell, completed a science degree at Monash University followed by a PhD.  A keen and active supporter of the ecology and history of the Barwon River area, Jo is also interested in science, art and sport.  In art, her preferred medium is mosaic, an interest she practices and exhibits at Fyansford mosaic studio.

Jo Mitchell Barwon Blog 2(002)

Through the Barwon Blog Jo has documented photos and information of the Barwon River region, from ‘mountain to mouth’, including activities she has participated in along the river.   Jo’s photos while running, walking and riding along the river and a variety of related information about birds, plants and trees are fascinating.

Jo reports that many people use the blog to further their own knowledge, including the noted Eugene von Guérard scholar Dr Ruth Pullin, author of the extensive catalogue the Artist as Traveller: the Sketchbooks of Eugene von Guerard.  The writer cited Jo’s research for the Ballarat Art Gallery Eugene von Guérard exhibition held earlier this year, co-curated by Dr Pullin. In June 2016, Jo spent time locating the property from where the artwork previously titled Mr Levien’s Hut on the Barwon, was initially created. The painting was recently retitled View from Fritz Wilhelmberg, Herne Hill, Geelong after further investigation by Dr Pullin.

Jo is very fond of her online publication, the first post in the Barwon Blog was published in December 2009.  Her contributions require a lot of work, especially when they require research of detailed historical accounts.

Jo Mitchell- the barown blog (002)

Her initial posts did not have a particular audience in mind, but as they became increasingly historical in nature, Jo found great interest in her work from historians in local community groups, PhD students and professional historians.                                                                                                     Environmental groups, and river users such as fishermen, runners and kayakers also make use of the blog, whilst schools often cite the blog as a useful source for their students’ projects. There also seems to be a substantial number of people interested in reports of ghosts haunting buildings along the river!

The purpose of the blog also arose as the subject matter developed, initially aiming to showcase parts of the river the public may not have known much about. When Jo acquired a kayak, she was able to discover exciting parts of the river that were just as new to her as to her avid readers.        The kayak also provided another means of exercise.  Jo does not have specific plans for the future development of the blog at this stage, but a printed form of the publication is an idea she is seriously considering.

Story: Zahidah Zeytoun Millie. Photos: Supplied