Weaving reeds into objects of beauty

Weavers Ah Soe and Poe Aung. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

By Alesha Capone

Reeds cut from the mouth of Werribee River are being woven into items such as baskets and fishing traps, as part of an innovative program at the Wyndham Community and Education Centre.
Elders from Burma, who volunteer at the Werribee centre, are weaving the reeds into stylish and useful objects.
The centre’s Settlement Services Coordinator, Richard Dove, said that the Spiny Rush (Juncus acutus) reeds were cut from near the river’s mouth by Wyndham council.
“The volunteers who are traditional weavers from Burma are used to utiliising the resources around them to create baskets, Mr Dove said.
“By working with Wyndham city council, who would normally cut the Spiny Rushes and let them compost into the ground, instead this gives us the opportunity to use a local resource and create baskets and fishing traps from it.”
The reeds come from Grahams Westland Reserve, which more than 20 hectares in size and comprised mainly of salt marsh vegetation, some of the last remaining of its type in Wyndham.
It is a bird habitat, and together with the adjacent Melbourne Water Treatment Plant, forms a Ramsar-accredited wetland of international importance.
Spiny Rush, which is native to Europe, Africa and North America, is a declared noxious weed in Victoria, and primarily invades saline areas.
The word “Juncus” derives from the Latin word “junction”, meaning joining, and refers to the use of rushes in weaving baskets across the globe.