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Merri e-News August 2023

Merri e-News August 2023
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Merri E-News

AUGUST 2023


Newsletter of the Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC)


MCMC's new Executive Officer

Bernadette ThomasIn the first week of August, MCMC welcomed our new Executive Officer, Bernadette Thomas, taking over the baton from Luisa Macmillan, MCMC Manager of more than 21 years. Bernadette comes to us with a wealth of experience, most recently as a sustainability consultant and prior to that, as Manager, Sustainable Environment, at Hume City Council for 12 years. Bernadette brings her experience of managing Hume’s Conservation Estate; climate, energy, and water programs; strategy and policy development; and environment community development and leadership programs. Bernadette said that she is delighted to begin working alongside an experienced team and continuing the important legacy created by so many current and former staff and volunteers.

Luisa remains at MCMC for the time being in a part-time capacity, assisting with the transition and working on priority environmental planning projects.

MCMC President awarded OAM

Ann McGregor 20 6 23The President of Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC), Ann McGregor, has received an Order of Australia Medal in the King’s Birthday awards for service to conservation and the environment.

Along with her husband Bruce, Ann was a key figure in the campaign in the late-1970s to save Merri Creek from being lined with concrete as part of a project to build a new freeway running along the Merri Creek valley in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. Soon after moving to Brunswick, Ann and Bruce formed the Brunswick Merri Creek Action Group in 1976 and over almost half a century have helped to turn Merri Creek from an open drain into the environmental and recreation asset that it is today. A webinar from Ann and Bruce explains this important history.


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Generous Donors offer help to Growling Grass Frogs

GGF for MCEF 2023Our sincere thanks to the 73 generous donors to our 2023 Merri Creek Environment Fund appeal, Help our endangered Growling Grass Frogs. The appeal raised $19,444 and will be a great help in finding out more about these frogs in the Merri Parklands in northern Fawkner. We want to know whether and where they're breeding in the vicinity, whether they’ll make use of the new wetland that Merri-bek Council has developed in Moomba Park and how we can best support them to thrive in the Merri Parklands. 

We received some very appreciative comments from donors: 
"I'm always inspired by your work and efforts, keep up the great work and thank you!!"
"Love your work in bringing nature to the urban environment."
We also received a delightful letter with a donation from Merri Creek itself - see the incredible full story in the article below.

Donation from Merri Creek iselfDonation from Merri Creek itself!

We were amazed and very touched when our 2023 Merri Creek Environment Fund appeal received a $100 donation from Merri Creek itself!!  It came to MCMC with a letter addressed to the creek from Clifton Hill resident, Bruce Lavender, apologising for the bad treatment over the years and the heaps of rubbish that it has had to put up with, but noting the many attempts to improve it. The $100 note was one of the many things Bruce and his partner found on one of their clean-ups.

See the full letter under Read More.


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Cultural Connections at the Merri-Birrarung Confluence

Uncle Dave audience at confluence In July, MCMC and the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation concluded a special 3-year partnership project whereby hundreds of people connected to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country by sharing ecological and cultural understandings of the confluence of Merri Creek and Birrarung (Yarra River).  On Saturday 1 July, despite the cold and rain, over 40 people joined Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Dave Wandin, MCMC and eight leaders from Yarra’s Climate Change Alliance for the Community Climate Change Conversations on Country in Yarra event.

The 3 year partnership project was funded by a grant from the City of Yarra Community Grants program. We are exploring ways to continue to provide community connections to this significant area. These powerpoints, from a two-part webinar held in 2012/22 Talking Merri Birrarung: Caring for Country where the Merri flows into Birrarung Part 1 and Part 2 provide highlights of the approach we take.

New WaterWatch group in Coburg

Merri Birdies WQ testingMeet the new Merri Birdies WaterWatch group! This keen group of lovely locals will be monitoring the water quality of the Merri Creek in Coburg on a monthly basis. They plan to include other activities, such as litter clean-ups and waterbug sampling and monitoring. Their site is an important site for the monitoring of habitat and food sources for platypus, so good luck to the group on their water quality journey of discovery!!  Thank you to #melbournewater and #cityofmerribek for supporting this group and the MCMC WaterWatch program. To join them, contact JuliaCirillo@mcmc.org.au

More Silver Banksias for our Tree Banksia Orchard

Silver Banksias in yardMCMC has received a fresh batch of 180 Silver Banksia seedlings (Banksia marginata, tree form) from the Friends of the Forgotten Woodlands, a volunteer group who have been working hard to rebuild the Banksia, Bursaria and Sheoak woodlands that were once a keystone in the ecology of the Victorian Volcanic Plains. Together with 50 seedlings grown by VINC, these plants will be added into our Tree Banksia Orchard which was established in Fawkner last year with help from many volunteers and support from the Merri Creek Environment Fund. The Orchard currently brings together genetic material from 10 different Silver Banksia populations across the volcanic plains, alongside material from three populations growing in locations whose current climate matches Melbourne’s future modelled climate. This year we will be adding provenances from Clarkfield and Eynesbury to the mix, bringing the number of volcanic plains populations represented in the Orchard to twelve.

Help plant Silver Banksias with LGBTIQ Friends of Bababi Djinanang and MCMC at 11am on Saturday 12th August, at the east end of Jukes Rd, Fawkner.


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Our early years work in local natural areas grows

Muddy handsOur support of early years communities doing Bush Kinder and Nature Play programs in local natural areas continues to strengthen with projects funded by the Cities of Whittlesea and Hume. MCMC’s philosophy reflects both the state education requirements for early years and local government concerns about the impacts on public open spaces. Our philosophy is: Leave no footprint; Listen to children; Acknowledge Wurundjeri Country in age-appropriate ways; Respect early years educators.

For more on the benefits of these progams, follow the read more prompt.


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Whittlesea College students get into WaterWatch

Whittlesea College Students do WaterWatchA small but enthusiastic group of Year 12 Geography students from Whittlesea Secondary College joined MCMC at Merri Creek in Donnybrook to conduct WaterWatch physical chemical testing of parameters such as salinity (EC), pH, turbidity, temperature and nutrients (phosphate and ammonium). 

This testing site is downstream of new housing developments and just upstream of the confluence of Kalkallo Creek. Both creeks and nearby dams and wetlands support an important population of endangered Growling Grass Frogs (Litoria raniformis). The students were studying the ecological impacts of urban development on waterways.


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Have you seen the new marram baba signs?

Dianna Wells Marram Baba Signage GaladaStriking new interpretative and way-finding signs have recently been installed in parts of marram baba Merri Creek Parklands. You can see many of them at galada tamboore, an area of public parkland on the Merri Creek north of the Ring Rd. With  permission from Wurundjeri Woi-wurrurng Elders, the signs include a welcome in Woi-wurrung and an arresting logo designed by Lewis Wandin-Burstall. Four of the interpretive signs include text provided by Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Doreen Garvey-Wandin.

The project was funded by the State Government and led by Merri Creek Management Committee on behalf of the marram baba Parkland Partners - the Cities of Hume and Whittlesea, Mitchell Shire, Melbourne Water, Yarra Valley Water, Parks Victoria and the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.


Read More

Drawing in NAIDOC Week

NAIDOC article imageMCMC supported Yarra and Merri-bek Libraries’ vacation programs with very well-attended activities that highlighted NAIDOC Week and local indigenous plants. Together we thought about Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country, language, seasons and plants using a variety of resources. Kids joined in very enthusiastically and produced many carefully produced booklets illustrated with their own botanic drawings.

We met in the Woi-wurrung season waring which spans April to July, Melbourne’s coldest months which correspond to winter. The indigenous plants we worked with in NAIDOC Week reflected the season, especially in relation to the lack of new flowers which occurs in later stages depending on the plant. We used The Plants of Coranderrk as a guide to plant names in Woi-wurring.

The indigenous plants we spent time becoming familiar with by touching, sniffing and drawing, included bowat (Poa labillardierei, Common Tussock-grass), garawun (Lomandra longifolia, Spiny-headed Mat-rush), galertiwan (Pomaderis aspera, Hazel Pomaderris) and muyan (Acacia dealbata, Silver wattle).

For help with such an activity: admin@mcmc.org.au

Connecting teachers to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country

Darebins Educators imageMCMC supports educators, from early years to tertiary level, to teach Indigenous perspectives with local biodiversity references and stories. In 2022 we led the first Community of Practice gathering in Darebin to situate Merri Creek’s catchment, especially our waterways and biodiversity and to support educator’s local connection to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country, seasons, and language.

In our aim to connect educators to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country, and as non-Indigenous educators, we follow advice which asks us not to tell First Nations People's creation stories. Instead, we are able to connect interculturally with stories about different concepts of seasons or material stories such as those about uses of indigenous plants, various plant language names and signs around us such as about the name ‘Merri Creek.’ Few people comprehend this as a bilingual phrase: Merri (Woi-wurrung) and Creek (English).

In July we were joined by people from 17 organisations at our second gathering in NAIDOC Week. We all spent time on our ecoliteracy by drawing indigenous plants and noting their Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung language names where they are known.

A key highlight was a presentation by the principal of Northcote High School, Chris Jones, about decolonising the school’s library - see The Age article about this.

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