No one knows where they came from or how they got to Riddells Creek, north of Melbourne, but the community’s 60-strong gaggle of geese is starting to divide opinion.
The geese often hold up traffic as they slowly waddle across the road in comical fashion to the amusement of locals and visitors.
For David Laurie of Riddells Creek, they are a welcome distraction from the rush of modern living.
“If you have to sit there for a minute as the geese cross the road it gives you a chance to draw breath and appreciate your surroundings,” Mr Laurie said.
The geese are very comical and they’ve all got their own individual characters, and sooner or later they’ll get off the road and we’ll get on our way.’’
Mr Laurie said the geese had been in the town for about 20 years, and it was not known exactly where they came from.
“Perhaps someone just dropped them off, someone who had geese and didn’t want them any more. We initially had very small numbers,” Mr Laurie said.
“Last year, I actually tried to count them and I got up to 60, which is a lot.”
His wife Susie said the geese had put the small town on the map.
She said a little lake in the town, where the geese liked to congregate, was an “unknown” drawcard until they arrived.
“Now people come here, feed the geese and go ‘Oh, look at this beautiful space’,” she said.
The geese also inspired artist Miffy Howell to create a series of paintings, one of which even got put on a T-shirt by the local Neighbourhood House.
“I like painting them so that they look like they have a bit of character,” Ms Howell said.
The shape is nice and simple that you can add things to it, like popping on a hat or a jacket.’’
Ms Howell said she had never heard of the geese attacking anyone, but they did get overexcited when people fed them.
“They just come up close, and when there’s a whole group of them doing it, they can get a little bit on the scary side, but it’s all good,” Ms Howell said.
“I really like them. They’re like the town pets, and I don’t mind being stopped for one or two minutes as they cross the road.”
Mr Laurie said that while most people in town liked the geese, there were people who were not so keen.
“Probably the main thing people complain about is the poo,” Mr Laurie said.
You’ve got 60 geese around the town. There’s a fair bit of poo, but it seems to wash away very quickly.’’
Kate Poulton, who runs an auto garage in town, said the geese had been known to cause road accidents.
“There was one recently where a motorbike ended up going into the back of a car because they’d pulled up for the geese,” Ms Poulton said.
Most supporters agree the gaggle has grown too big and could be dangerous when crossing the road.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council director of assets and operations Shane Walden said the council was asking VicRoads to reduce the speed limit to 50 kilometres per hour on Main Road and to install educational signs about feeding the geese.
“If you are travelling through Riddells Creek, please be mindful of the geese and slow down when approaching this area,” Mr Walden said.
Council said there were no plans to remove the geese from the area.
Supporters are hopeful they do not suffer a similar fate to those in the tourist town of Daylesford, where the council removed all of the geese from a lake.
“I think it would be a tragedy to remove our geese. It gives the town our character,” Mr Laurie said.
We’ve got kangaroos, we’ve got geese and the occasional wombat, and it’s part of living in the country. It’s just lovely.’’