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Merri e-News - March 2019

Merri e-News - March 2019
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Merri E-News

MARCH 2019

Newsletter of the Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC)

Bringing Herne Swamp back to life

flooding from trainline southwest 15 09 16

Photo above: Herne Swamp after heavy rain, Mt Fraser in background. Sept 2016.

Herne Swamp is a hidden gem on the upper Merri Creek awaiting the opportunity to be brought 'back to life'.  Lying to the south and east of the town of Wallan it has 'all the ingredients required for a spectacular restoration project'. This is the central point made in an inspiring discussion paper from the Nature Glenelg Trust -  Restoration Vision for the Wallan Wallan wetlands, including Herne Swamp, as the centrepiece of the Wallan Wallan Regional Park. The Nature Glenelg Trust are experts in wetland restoration and were invited by local community members to inspect Herne Swamp in 2018. 

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Our 2017-18 Annual Report

Annual Report 2018

Check out Merri Creek Management Committee's recent achievements by reading our latest Annual Report. In summary we:

  • organised 42 community events ranging from plantings, sowing seeds, weed management, ecological surveys, waterwatch training, and walks and talks;
  • reached over 6,000 people in our hands-on and education activities;
  • publicised 128 community events (our own and other groups');
  • commented on 18 planning permit applications;
  • supported 'Friends of' groups and hosted numerous volunteers;
  • our financial bottom line was positive!

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Award for excellence in ecological restoration


Merri Creek Management Committee's (MCMC) ecological restoration work was recognised in a recent award presented by Melbourne Water. The Exceptional Contribution Award was in recognition of MCMC's efforts to improve riparian condition through the River Health Incentives Program.

Ryan van den Hove, a Waterway and Land Officer with Melbourne Water, said it was a pleasure to present MCMC with this award that acknowledges Melbourne Water’s appreciation for the successful, high quality projects delivered by MCMC during the group's long history participating in the program.

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Growling Grass Frogs in Fawkner

Growling Grass Frog metamorph by G HeardIn January some of our field staff were lucky enough to hear several Endangered Growling Grass Frogs (Litoria raniformis) calling from Merri Creek, at two different locations in Fawkner’s Moomba Park Reserve. This is the first time these frogs have been recorded in the lower sections of the Merri for many decades, most likely due to pollution and the loss of their habitat, We don't know how long the frogs might remain in this section of the creek, as they need still or slow moving water to breed in, and heavy rains can make the creek flow ferociously.

Come along and search for Growlers and other frogs at the Frogs in Fawkner event on Friday 26 April at 6:30pm - World Save the Frogs Day. Registration essential here. Listen to the Growling Grass Frogs calling from Merri Creek .

Connecting to Wurundjeri Country

BEST group pic NarrapLunch 141218In mid-December the Wurundjeri Tribe Land Compensation & Cultural Heritage Council’s Narrap (Land Management) Team hosted a lunch at the confluence of the Merri Creek and the Yarra River. A Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony from Uncle Dave Wandin provided a rich cultural context for the 23 participants.

During his Welcome to Country, Uncle Dave Wandin stood before the three eucalypts that were scarred by representatives of the Wandin, Terrick and Nevin Wurundjeri families in September 2016. He spoke about how the Narrap Team had developed from a base of two lawn mowers, a brush cutter and no depot. Narrap Team’s new manager, Sean Hunter, spoke about the strong future for the team with four trainees now working towards their Certificate IV in Conservation and Land Management.

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Surprise visitors

Little Button Quail 18 01 19Merri Creek Management Committee staff and visitors were amazed to see a Little Button Quail in the native grassland garden at the front of MCMC's office in East Brunswick on 18 January 2019 (photo left). This species is usually associated with more inland grasslands. Its presence, even only for a couple of days, clearly shows the value of planting indigenous plants in suburban gardens.

Around the same time in January a number of people reported hearing the distinctive call of a lone male Eastern Whipbird in nearby Merri Park, Northcote and across Merri Creek in Phillips Reserve south of Blyth St in Brunswick East. It was heard by the Friends of Merri Creek bird surveyers in mid February and was still calling in mid March. Whip Birds are usually associated with wet habitats, including rainforest, eucalypt forest and dense scrub near watercourses along the coastal band of Eastern Australia.

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Creekline Tussock Grassland returns to Fawkner

Tussock Grass in FawknerCreekline Tussock Grasslands were once widespread along the floodplains and creek terraces north of Melbourne. These vegetation communities are now endangered, as grazing by sheep and cattle along Merri Creek destroyed the soft soil they depend upon.

In 2018 Merri Creek Management Committee received a $20,000 Melbourne Water Community Grant to restore Creekline Tussock Grassland and escarpment vegetation in Fawkner. Since then our Ecological Restoration team has been busy revegetating Fawkner’s creek flats, with help from Fawkner Primary School students and Friends of Merri Creek volunteers. Only six months later, Common Tussock Grass, Poa labillardieri, which forms the backbone of this community, is thriving (photo). Revegetation of creek-side cliffs in the same area has been completed.


Plan your own Merri or Edgars Creek Clean-Up

litter clean up communityWould you like to do something about the litter that gathers along the Edgars and Merri Creeks after rainfall? In 2018, twenty-nine volunteer cleanup events were held (that we know of) with 350 people contributing to this massive effort. In 2019 we are hoping for even more.

Friends of Merri Creek encourages community litter cleanups on creeks in the Merri catchment, but wants to make sure that this is done safely. See Friends of Merri Creek community litter collections page. The Friends also need your help to collect information on the type and amount of litter entering the creeks, with the aim of tracing it to its source and planning to prevent further litter from reaching the creeks. 

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Celebrating 25 years of Waterwatch

Waterwatch 30 years celebrationIt was boiling hot, then thundered with rain on the evening of 30 January, but nevertheless 30 participants enjoyed  learning about the local ecology and pollution issues of Edgars Creek at Creeds Farm Living and Learning Centre in Epping North, while celebrating 25 years of Waterwatch in Victoria.

The event, Our home, our nearby nature around Edgars Creek, organised by the Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC), featured activities for the kids, including skin art of the local animals that live in Edgars Creek, looking at live waterbugs and meeting a Spotted Marsh Frog. Participants enjoyed the a chance to network and the delicious food supplied by the City of Whittlesea.

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World Wetlands Day Walk and Talk in Darebin

World Wetlands Day Darebin 2019Merri Creek Management Committee and the City of Darebin celebrated World Wetlands Day 2019 with a walk and talk event at Edwardes Lake and the Edgars Creek wetlands in Reservoir on 31st January. The 25 participants learned about the benefits of wetlands in reducing stormwater pollution, as important habitat for local bird, aquatic and macroinvertebate species and their role in helping our local environments become more resilient to climate change. They looked for frogs, wetland birds and waterbugs, tested the salinity levels and the muddiness of Edgars Creek and learned more about what the collected Waterwatch water quality data is saying about the health of Edgars Creek and Edwardes Lake.

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Short Stuff: Understorey Habitat for Urban Birds

Red browed FinchMerri Creek Management Committee has been awarded a $17,905 Community Grant from Melbourne Water to diversify habitat structure and promote bird habitat in the vicinity of Phillips Reserve and Kirkdale Park, Brunswick East. There are many gorgeous birds that feed, play and nest along this stretch of the creek including sociable Red-Browed Firetail Finches (photo) which require habitat with a dense understorey. The grant will fund the planting of 700 understorey plants and shrubs across the sites with the help of the community, as well as weed control in the preliminary stages and whilst the plants are establishing.

You can help with the planting on 14 July at Phillips Reserve, Brunswick East.  Subscribe to our events notification emails for details of this and other events.


Saving Secret Saline Seeps at Galada Tamboore

Fireweed at Galada TambooreSaltmarsh is most often associated with coastlines, but the Merri Creek in Campbellfield and Thomastown supports some unusual vegetation dominated by salt-tolerant indigenous species. At Galada Tamboore the Merri Creek gorge has exposed ancient sediments, buried when volcanoes erupted along the Merri several million years ago. Where the lava flows and the more ancient sediments meet, naturally saline spring-water wells from the escarpment and saltmarsh plants have gained a foothold. 

In order to conserve these special ecosystems, Friends of Merri Creek has secured a $20,000 Melbourne Water Community Grant. Working with Wurundjeri Land Council and community, the project will map, protect and enhance this rare vegetation, and restore endangered shrublands along the adjoining escarpments. The Friends have contracted MCMC to deliver the project, which will run until June 2020.

Photo above: Fireweed Groundsel, Senecio linearifolius, in a vertical saltmarsh at Galada Tamboore.


Frogs and Dogs - What frogs live in Yarra

IMG 3146On the very hot evening of 24 January, 17 participants kept cool in the lovely Bargoonga Nganjin Library in North Fitzroy to learn about local frog species and populations. Merri Creek Management Committee’s Waterwatch Coordinator, Julia Cirillo, and frog researchers, Naomi and Nicholas from Canine Ecological, gave presentations on the different types of local frogs. Participants met a live Spotted Marsh Frog, learned how to identify frogs by their calls using Melbourne Water's Frog Census app, and how to build a frog bog at their own homes. Canine Ecological showed how their dogs had been trained to sniff out various fauna species, including frogs and quolls.

If your group or community is interested in a similar presentation, please contact us. We may be able to help, especially if you are located in the City of Darebin, Moreland, Whittlesea or Yarra.


MCMC Flora & Fauna Report 2017-18

Western Golden-tip (Goodia medicaginea)Our latest Fauna & Flora report summarises 53 sightings from our fauna book between October 2017 and September 2018, including Platypus and Eastern Rosellas, which are rare in the lower Merri. Significant flora include the Fireweed Groundsel, Senecio linearifolius, which is only known to occur naturally in the catchment at Galada Tamboore, and our experimental plantings of White Elderberry, Sambucus gaudichaudiana, the endangered Tough Scurf-Pea, Cullen tenax, as well as the rare Western Golden-tip, Goodia medicaginea (photo left).

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Two long-term MCMC staff members depart

Katrina Roberg head shotBrian 2017Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) recently farewelled two of our longest-serving staff members.

In January 2019, Katrina Roberg (right) resigned from her position as Manager of our Ecological Restoration Program (formerly Parkland Management Program) after 13 years.  A month earlier, Brian Bainbridge (left) said farewell after 21 years with MCMC. He resigned from his substantive position as Ecological Restoration Planner in early 2018 but stayed on for the rest of the year for one day per week. 

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We have lots of activities for you!

We have lots of activities coming up and there's bound to be something that suits you. Just check out our calendar, or if you would like to be notified about events along Merri Creek, sign up here. You can sign up to receive email notices for all events, for events in a specific area, or for certain types of events. 

Merri Creek Management Committee. 2 Lee St, East Brunswick, Victoria, Australia 3057  (view map in new window )
Phone:(03) 9380 8199     Email:
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