LOCATION: YARRA 5000/04.07 E23550 N15880 to E23800 N16000
Right bank valley side of the Merri Creek opposite Ross Street and Creek Parade, Northcote (although the site lies in the City of Yarra), between Keelson Reserve and the Knott Reserve, Clifton Hill. The site extends for 300 metres along the right bank east of the low level crossing, of the Merri Creek by the Merri Path.
ACCESS: Merri Path and Ross Street, Northcote.
OWNERSHIP & MUNICIPALITY: Public Land, City of Yarra.
SITE DESCRIPTION: The principal feature is a very clear exposure of at least two lava flows or flow units that form a vertical cliff face adjacent to the low level crossing of the Merri Creek by the Merri Path at the west of Creek Parade, The lowermost sections of the flows exposed are at creek level 30 metres east of the low bridge on the Merri Path. This flow is ropy with many large aligned vesicles and probably represents a thin cooling flow unit (or several units) with rapid gas escape forming aligned and elongated gas bubble holes. The flow is well exposed as it is frequently washed clean of weathered debris by floods in the Merri Creek. Overlying this and well exposed adjacent to the bridge is a massive non-ropy lava flow with complex jointing and weathering features. The lower 3 metres of the flow has persistent vertical joints with a spacing of 40 cm to 50 cm giving a distinct columnar form. Closely spaced but irregular horizontal joints divide the columns into angular sub-blocks. Overlying the columnar section with a disjunct boundary, the upper part of the flow has disorganised jointing giving an irregular fractured surface.
The weathering patterns on the lower, columnar flow are unusual in that an irregular spheroidal pattern has developed. There are some typical corestones surrounded by "onion skin" layers but in places this weathered fringe is again surrounded by basalt that is apparently little weathered.
Further east along the valley slope is a small cave in vesicular and ropy basalt. This appears to be a primary feature of thee lava flow (a small lava tube) and is not a weathering or erosion hollow.
SIGNIFICANCE RATING: REGIONAL
This is an outstanding site with very high regional significance. Because of the easy and safe access and the proximity of sites with complementary features, this site could form part of a complex in the Merri Creek gorge at Northcote that could be regarded as of STATE significance. The broader site is significant for the variety of lava structures that are shown in close proximity and with safe access. Despite the widespread occurrence of Newer Volcanics basalt in Victoria, many are on private land or in road cuttings or river cliffs that are not safely accessible. The Merri Creek sites are one of the few safely accessible and clearly displayed sites of complex jointing on Public Land. The weathering patterns and the lava cave are also unusual features.
SITE SENSITIVITY, THREATS, POTENTIAL UTILISATION
CLASS 2. This is a robust site but could he damaged by rock collection. Some sprayed graffiti has recently appeared on part of the outcrop. Both these damaging practices should be discouraged. Overgrowing by vegetation could obscure the outcrops. Priority should be given to the geological qualities of the site, and vegetation that obscures part of the outcrop should he removed. The site has great potential as a geological education site and could be linked with an interpretive study of basalt structures in the Merri Creek gorge.
REFERENCES: None known.
Photograph 7. Lava flow units at Site 6, Creek Parade.
Photograph 8. Weathered columnar basalt at Site 6
Photograph 9. Lava cave at Site 6.