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Merri e-News May 2023

Merri e-News May 2023
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Merri E-News

MAY 2023

Newsletter of the Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC)

Our 2022 achievements

MCMC Annual Report 2021 22 CoverCheck out Merri Creek Management Committee's recent achievements by reading our latest Annual Report (2021-22). The easing of COVID-19 restrictions allowed a bumper year of face-to-face community events.

  • 1000 volunteers provided hands-on help;
  • 6775 people participated in environmental education activities;
  • 333 community events and school-based sessions were delivered;
  • we partnered with 102 organisations;
  • we worked with 34 clients and funding bodies;
  • our financial bottom line was once again very positive!

You'll find more details on the sources of our funding and expenditure of our various programs in the 2022 Treasurer's Report and the 2022 Auditor's Report.

VCAT refuses Harrison St development

Harrison St cottageWe were greatly heartened by a recent VCAT decison that affirms the importance of the visual character of the Merri Creek and its parklands. VCAT upheld Merri-bek Council's refusal to approve a permit for seven townhouses at 38 Harrison St Brunswick East.

The site is next to a striking Russian Orthodox Church and includes an historic cottage (photo left). The cottage was to be retained and restored, a plus for the proposal. But the six townhouses located at the rear of the property were a problem in terms of scale and siting. The proposed landscaping between the driveway, which serviced the rear of the continuous row of townhouses, and the site's rear boundary was minimal.

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Have your say on marram baba Merri Creek Parklands

Galada Gorge specky RRThe marram baba Parklands will provide continuous public open space along Merri Creek from the Ring Road to Beveridge. The draft marram baba Merri Creek Regional Parklands Future Directions Plan which outlines thes plans is now out for community consultation. The parkland partners, including MCMC, would appreciate your feedback. Consultation closes on 8 May. Follow this link to have your say.

The marram baba parklands will:

  • Protect nature and support Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung cultural heritage;
  • Expand and link existing parks with new conservation areas;
  • Create more publicly accessible open spaces and shared walking and cycling trails.

Welcome additions to marram baba Parklands

Growling Grass Frog juvenileTwo significant parcels of privately-owned conservation land were recently acquired by the State Government for inclusion in the marram baba Merri Creek Parklands. One of these is a 40ha site at 605 OHerns Rd, Epping with a long frontage to Merri Creek. It includes critical Growling Grass Frog habitat and has been a missing link in public land south of galgi ngarrk (Craigieburn Grasslands). 

The second site, 112ha at 490 Craigieburn Rd, Wollert, is an important remnant grassland associated with Curly Sedge Creek, north of Craigieburn Rd East. In a significant step, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung's Narrap Team will manage the site, a very welcome recognition of Traditional Owners as custodians of the parklands country.

Woi-wurrung grasslands names finally formalised

Common bluebell smallLong awaited Woi-wurrung names for two Merri Creek grasslands managed by Parks Victoria were formally gazetted on 22 December 2022. This is 16 years after Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder, Aunty Doreen Garvey-Wandin, provided a series of innovative names for Merri Creek grasslands, based on body parts of the mother kangaroo, at the request of the Friends of Merri Creek.

The newly gazetted names are: galgi ngarrk (backbone) for the Craigieburn Grassland Nature Conservation Reserve and bababi marning (mother’s hand) for Cooper St Grassland NCR. The name marram baba (body of the mother kangaroo) has also been adopted for the proposed parklands that extend along Merri Creek from the Ring Rd to Beveridge. The use of lower case for the first letter in the names is a Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung preference and has been accepted by Geographic Names Victoria.

Other names in the original series, submitted many years, were approved using conventional capitalisation: Bababi Djinanang (mother’s foot) for Jukes Rd Grassland in Fawkner; and Ngarri-djarrang (thigh) for Central Creek Grassland in Reservoir.

Ex MCMC Vice President awarded posthumous OAM

David TurnbullDavid Turnbull, who served as the City of Whittlesea's representative on Merri Creek Management Committee from 2001 to 2011, including as Vice President from 2007-09, was awarded a posthumous Order of Australia in January 2023 for his service to local government administration. We are pleased to acknowledge his long-term support for MCMC as one of his achievements. David's most recent appoinments were as CEO of Whittlesea City Council 2007-15 and CEO of Mitchell Shire Council 2016-20. He died  in 2020. RMIT University awards The David Turnbull Memorial Prize in his honour.  

Litter continues to blight urban creeks

Rapid Response to Litter Report Cover picMCMC's Rapid Response to Litter after Rainfall (RRLC)¬†has produced a Litter Report¬†that sums up our efforts in¬†2022.¬†747 participants at 71 events collected 94,418 pieces of litter. This litter was overwhelmingly made up of plastics ‚Äď single use plastic bags and plastic food packaging. ¬†¬†

The RRLC program, which began in 2018 thanks to a grant from the Port Phillip Bay Fund, supports local community to safely remove litter from the waterways of Merri Creek. It has enabled expansion of the litter clean-up program run successfully for over 20 years by Friends of Merri Creek.

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We can help with indigenous gardens in schools

School Indigenous gardenWe have over 20 year’s experience working with school communities to guide the development of indigenous gardens. This includes support for funding applications, tips for plant lists and delivery of appropriate learning involvement for students of every age. 

In February Marymede Catholic College in South Morang created a pop-up outdoor classroom in their garden which was planted in 2022. It's a great place to develop more awareness of indigenous habitat and Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country. For help with your own plan, contact us:

Teaching Indigenous perspectives with local seasons

Kids Art photo for Merri e NewsAs non-Indigenous educators, respectfully teaching Indigenous perspectives is challenging and always evolving. After MCMC’s education specialists provide school incursions that connect with Indigenous perspectives, we sometimes see educators build on the experience and develop their own initiatives. Our congratulations to Carlton Primary School’s Kaytlin Beattie and Winter Dunstone who developed their teaching of Indigenous perspectives by using the school’s indigenous garden to connect with Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung language and enrich an understanding of the seasons.

The image (right) shows an example of how Grade 1 students departed from the common, stereotypical seasonal ideas associated with ‚Äėsummer‚Äô. Instead of using a blue palette of skies and beaches, they used yellow, gold and brown, which is more attuned to the local conditions of ‚Äėbiderap,‚Äô the hot and dry season ‚Äď as conveyed by the grasslands of Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country.¬†

Please contact our specialist educators via to discuss opportunities for professional development, incursions and excursions.

Grassland species brochure

Grassland leaflet screenshotAlong with 15 other organisations MCMC contributed funds to reprint the Natural Temperate Grassland Species of the Victorian Volcanic Plain brochure. This brochure illustrates many plants and some animals of our native grasslands and was produced by the Grassy Plains Network. You can now download the brochure here or contact us for a sturdy, laminated copy.

Merri in the evening for rakali

Rakali swimming Michael Hamel GreenIn February rakali activity was reporting at dusk in the Preston-Coburg reach of Merri Creek. A busy rakali was observed busy foraging, swimming, diving, and nibbling. Rakali have also been regularly spotted at Coburg Lake.

How to tell the difference between rakali and platypus
  1. Rakali are typically similar in size to small platypus and have brownish colouring and furry skin in common. However rakali has a long, skinny, white-tipped tail compared to a platypus' paddle-like shaped tail. Also, platypus have a very wide, flattish bill, while rakali have a pointy shaped face. 
  2. The ripples formed on the water surface by submerged rakali differ from diving birds and platypus, as their swimming and diving movements are subtly different. 
    More spotting tips here. 

Read More

Early years leadership for educators and little kids

Kinder Kids dwarfed by the bushMCMC advocates for leadership beyond kindergarten settings, paricularly on connecting with Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country. Our activities have included:       In 2022 Joining with Barry Beckett Children's Centre at the Yaruk'ho Wilam wetlands in Coburg for a film by the Victorian Curriculum & Assessment Authority (VCAA). The VCAA are responsible for creating curriculum across schools and early childhood centres in Victoria. Also in 2022, supporting the Keele St Kindergarten Collingwood. This kindergarten won the Victorian Government’s Early Years Excellence in Educational Leadership Award for their Yarra Bend Bush Kinder program. Congratulations! Hosting a  well-attended webinar for early years educators in February 2023, funded by the City of Whittlesea.

WaterWatch volunteers hone their monitoring skills

Waterwatch 30 years milestoneMCMC WaterWatch held workshops for our volunteers in Autumn 2023 to revise and increase volunteers' skills and understanding of water quality testing, biological monitoring and assessment waterway ecological health. 

The suite of free workshops included:

  • Interpreting Waterwatch data and entering it on the website;
  • Training for new monitors and those requiring a refresher;
  • Waterbug census on Edgars Creek with Friends of Edwardes Lake;
  • Waterbug census on Merri Creek, Coburg.

More information is available on the WaterWatch Community Portal. Thanks to Melbourne Water and the Cities of Darebin and Merri-bek which funded the workshops.

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WaterWatch celebrates 30 years of citizen science!

WaterWatch 30Years celebrationThis year WaterWatch Victoria celebrates 30 years of community water quality monitoring. Some groups have continuously monitoring every month for over 25 years! Huge appreciation to all of these hard working volunteers.

This milestone was celebrated late March when North Central Catchment Management Authority presented awards to Waterwatch and Estuarywatch volunteers from all over Victoria. Three Waterwatch groups supported by MCMC were awarded outstanding service awards: the Reservoir Frogs Waterwatch group; the Friends of Merri Creek Streamteam and the Westgate Park Waterwatch group. 

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