Merri Creek Management Committee

ToniFionnulla Meri Creek at Ncote WW group DCC vol awards 2019Congratulations to the Reservoir Frogs Group and the Merri Creek at Northcote/Brunswick East Waterwatch Group for being nominated in the Sustainability category of the City of Darebin community awards 2019. Both groups are supported by the Merri Creek Management Committee. This year there were more than 50 nominations, so the competition was tight.

Although neither group won in the category, Toni, the leader of the Merri Creek Waterwatch group in Northcote/Brunswick East commented "It was a thrill being nominated and I just wanted to share the acknowledgment with everyone in our group, as it’s a 100% team effort and I’m so lucky it’s such a wonderful group."

Moreland PS Creekside Teacher PD 7.3.19The whole Moreland Primary School community kicked off 2019 with a radical education project called Future Makers and the Merri Merri Creek. The project, coordinated by school parent Sarita Gálvez, began with a professional development day for all school staff, including two walks to Merri Creek led by Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC), and a guided talk at Bunjilaka, Melbourne Museum.

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These activities, projects and resources are suitable for Kindergarten up to Grade 2.  Merri Creek Management Committee’s educators can link several activities in a session to explore a range of concepts.

We can come to your Kindergarten, Early Learning Centre or explore the amazing outdoor classroom near our waterways with interactive sessions that stimulate the imagination, promote active learning and are great fun. We call this Nature Play. Young children remind us about the simple and amazing wonders in nature all around us. Merri Creek Management Committee’s environmental educators guide free Nature Playtime in outdoor bushy places for two to five year-olds. We emphasise the children’s experience as we wander, pause, listen and slow down together and notice the bark, clouds and creatures around us.

For further information on environmental pedagogies and pre MCMC visit activities refer to our Early Childhood Teacher’s Water Education Manual.

Waterwatch Early Years list of activities - these can be tailored to your learning needs

Kids CrittersCritters in the Creek 

Children are introduced to creek critters that call our local creeks home. This includes local animals such as the Rakali, Platypus, Sacred Kingfisher, the Short finned eel and many others. Children will meet a live Spotted Marsh frog and hear the sounds of frogs and local birds. This activity can be run as an incursion or excursion and teamed with Kingfisher on Kids, Story time with puppets, waterbug discovery and fascinating frogs.


waterbug discoveryWaterbug Discovery

There are many themes to explore with this activity including: 

  • There are bugs living in the creek – bugs have adaptations that help them  live in/on/around water
  • How different types of waterbugs move
  • Waterbugs can tell us how healthy the creek is
Fascinating FrogFascinating Frogs

Frog activities include creating frog lifecycles (craft activity), frog jumping activity, creating frog habitat and talking frogs (learn the calls of local frogs and play a game to try and remember them). Visit local wetlands to see where real frogs hang out.



5 Senses in Field

Five Senses in the Field

Use the five senses to thoughtfully observe and explore habitat values in outdoor settings. See tiny animals magnified, regard the tree canopy from below, using mirrors and binoculars, and consider the sound, smell and sensation of natural areas in a focussed way to stimulate appreciation and inquiry.



Crafty Creatures

Crafty Creatures

Children learn about creek life, consider the special adaptations of frogs and waterbugs and focus on features such as body shape. They use their observations to create similar creatures using a variety of natural and craft materials. This activity works well with Waterbug discovery and Five senses in the field. Critters can be made from materials found in nature and recycled materials.


Indigenous Cultural Heritage

Indigenous cultural heritage and waterways

Indigenous people have long recognised many values in local waterway plants for medicines and to make eel traps and baskets. In this activity children handle local waterway grasses and consider the traditions and heritage of the Wurundjeri-willam people.


Stormwater Story

Stormwater Story

Children take the roles of characters that live along Merri Creek in  various parts of the landscape such as grasslands, farmed land and urban areas. Each character adds a different type of pollution (from grass clippings to oil) into a bowl of water representing the creek to see how human activity impacts water quality.


Kingfishers on Kids

Kingfishers on Kids

Learn about the community’s role to restore indigenous habitat through environmental restoration. Consider the impact on animals such as Sacred Kingfishers who visit Merri Creek in spring after a long journey from Indonesia. Create your own clip-on Kingfisher to take home.



Whos still hiding

Who’s still hiding? Story time with finger puppets

Meet Duck, Rakali, Turtle and another special guest at the creek side in this engaging story aimed at Grade Prep and younger. Children will discuss which native animals live along Melbourne’s rivers, creeks and wetlands and how to identify them.



Catchment Map pic

Catchment map

In nature or at Kinder our huge map of the Merri Creek catchment map brings home many messages about the nature of a catchment and provides an instructive tool for discussions with children about the environment,  and animals that live on the Merri Creek. 



Learning Grounds Indig Garden

Learning Grounds – Creating an indigenous garden

Shine a light on local biodiversity and establish Kinder gardens using local indigenous plants of the Merri Creek catchment. We involve children, consider master plans, garden concepts and grant applications. Looking for inspiration? Come with us to visit other Kindergarten’s indigenous gardens.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Creek Clean Ups!

A great activity for Clean Up Australia Day, National Water Week, or an addition to any community programs or events. Children safely pick up litter around your local waterway, survey the types and amount of litter and then remove it. The data from the litter survey is uploaded onto the Statewide citizen science program LitterWatch Victoria, so we can better understand and identify the litter pollution hot spots on our waterways. All equipment is included, including children-sized gloves and litter pick-up sticks, plus safety advice, and a presentation on water quality health.

For more information

Please call 9380 8199 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Is there a charge?

Most programs and activities are offered free of charge as they are funded through a variety of sources (sessions not covered by funding can be charged to your Kindergarten or Early Learning Centre by arrangement). We look forward to hearing from you!

IMG 0999Waterwatch  activities can be easily adapted for Tertiary students. The range of Citzen Science monitoring we deliver include:

  • Water Quality monitoring (physical chemical parameters)
  • Biological monitoring - this includes aquatic macroinvertebrates (waterbugs), habitat assessment of creek bed and banks and frogs
  • Litter surveys 

All monitoring is supervised by an accredited and trained Waterwatch Leader or Coordinator. Once monitoring is completed, the results, otherwise known as "data"  is collated and uploaded onto various Citizen Science apps and databases so the data is available for the community. 

A Waterwatch Coordinator is available for Tertairy Institutions on a fee for service basis. To inquire contact the Waterwatch Coordinator Julia Cirillo on 9380 8199 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further information on Waterwatch monitoring:

Water Quality Monitoring (physical chemical parameters)

Water quality monitoring provides students with a fundamental understanding of waterway health, and as a result is a core activity of the Waterwatch program. Water quality monitoring involves the measurement of various physical and chemical properties, such as temperature, salinity, turbidity, acidity/alkalinity and nutrients. Students learn how these properties affect the health of rivers, creeks and wetlands, where they come from, and how we can minimise the impact we have upon our local waterways and the life they sustain.
When conducting water quality tests, it is important to understand why quality control is important and how to obtain the most accurate measurements; we call this QAQC - quality assurance quality control.
Depending on the age group of your students, we usually attempt to achieve secondary level QA/QC and then progress to tertiary level. Secondary level information is used by local government, schools and community groups as an indicative measure of waterway health in your local area, but if your group can attain tertiary level QA/QC the data you generate will be made available to catchment managers and will also be submitted to the Waterwatch Data portal. 

  • TEMPERATURE - Measures the average temperature of the water, which affects the chemical changes in water and affects survival of aquatic life.
  • pH - Measures the alkalinity or acidity of the water, which affect the survival of aquatic life. 
  • ELECTRICAL CONDUCTIVITY - Measures the amount of dissolved salts in the water (salinity level). Salinity affects the survival of aquatic life. 
  • TURBIDITY - Measures the clarity of the water (relates to the amount of suspended particles), which affects the survival of aquatic life. 
  • FLOW VELOCITY/RATE - Measures the stream volume and speed of water flow, which affects the survival of aquatic life. 
  • DISSOLVED OXYGEN (DO) - Measures the amount of oxygen in the water, which is essential for the survival of most organisms and aquatic plants.
  • REACTIVE PHOSPHATE- Measures the amount of phosphorus in the water, an indicator of the nutrient status, organic enrichment and subsequent health of the water body. 
  • AMMONIUM- Measures the amount of ammonium (a form of nitrogen) in the water, which indicates organic enrichment and subsequent enrichment of the water body.

Biological sampling

Aquatic Macroinvertebrate sampling (Waterbugs)

Macroinvertebrate sampling is another important and extremely popular activity for students. It involves the sampling aquatic macroinvertebrates living in our rivers, creeks and wetlands. Macroinvertebrates are best sampled during spring and autumn, where students will have the opportunity to discover these wonderful and important lesser-known creatures. Macroinvertebrates are animals without backbones (invertebrates) that are ('macro') visible with the naked eye and include insects, worms, snails, crustaceans, water mites and more.
These aquatic ‘mini beasts’ play a significant role in the health of our local freshwater rivers, creeks and wetlands and are useful indicators of stream health. Macroinvertebrates form an important part of the food chain and are essential for a healthy ecosystem. Many of these aquatic invertebrates are sensitive to even quite mild pollutants or changes in water quality. By investigating the types of macroinvertebrates present in the stream, students can learn to identify macroinvertebrates to Order, and family level, by using classification keys and charts.
The diversity and abundance of macroinvertebrates in the waterway enables students to determine a SIGNAL (Stream Index Grade Number Average Level) score, providing an indicative measure of the ecological health of the river, creek or wetland habitats being sampled. These results provide a snapshot of waterway condition, and help give the community and river health managers a broader understanding of waterway health.

Habitat assessments

The river environment, including both riparian (adjacent to the river itself) and aquatic zones, provides important habitat for many aquatic and terrestrial species, including fish, frogs, invertebrates, platypus, native water rats, and birds. Both in-stream and riparian habitat assessments are important Waterwatch activities and are a great way for students and community groups to gain an appreciation of the physical environment and how human activities can impact on river condition. 

Frog Census

The Waterwatch Coordinator can train students to identify the main frogs within the Merri and Moonee Ponds catchments, and then use the Melbourne Water Frog Census app to record and upload frog census information. All data is then available for all users of the app and is also loaded periodically onto the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas

Litter surveys and Stormwater Education

Litter and other pollutants entering our waterways via the stormwater system is a major problem for the health of local waterways across the Port Phillip and Western Port Catchments. Litter, leaves, grass clippings, soil, cigarette butts, dog droppings, garden fertiliser, car washing detergent, petrol, oil and grease from roadways can all get washed into the stormwater system and end up polluting local waterways and eventually our bays and local beaches.
Waterwatch actively encourages the implementation of stormwater awareness and management programs across the region. Students can become actively involved in this program in a variety of ways. Drain stencilling and litter surveys (both in the school grounds, within the local neighbourhood, and down at the waterway) helps to educate the wider community and provides valuable information regarding pollutants entering our waterways via the stormwater system. Students are encouraged to discuss and develop strategies to address this issue and reduce the threat of stormwater litter. Students can work on source reduction plans using data collated through our litter citizen science program.

IMG 0291Other resources available to Tertiary Institutions

  • Catchment Tours: All day events where classes can be taken on a tour of either the Merri or Moonee Ponds Catchments.  Students can track the condition of the river from the upper region to the more urban areas.  Catchment tours provide opportunities for students to learn about impacts of various land uses upon river health from their observations and monitoring on the day.  Institutions will need to organise their own transport.  Please let us know well in advance if you are interested in a catchment tour.
  •  Water testing equipment loans, and advice on selecting the best equipment for your purposes.
  •  Assistance with Grant Applications - for the purchase of testing kits or fees for service
  •  PD sessions: Training Day for teacher’s – Full day training session on the four training modules that the Waterwatch Program covers. 
  • Waterwatch Manual and Resources for Teachers – available to schools and participants for the step-by-step development of an on-going monitoring program. 
  • Becoming involved in the annual Waterbug Blitz citizen science project
  • Reports, teaching resources and specific information about the ecology history, geography and conservation of Merri creek and its tributaries are available from Merri Creek Management Committee


Waterwatch training groupCitizen Science is a phrase that’s bandied about a lot at the moment. You might think it’s a new activity but it's not. Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) has been at the forefront of citizen science water quality monitoring. As early as 1992 we initiated a citizen science program that involved local schools in water quality monitoring of Merri Creek.

By 2017/18 MCMC's Waterwatch program had consolidated to support  30 volunteer monitors at 15 regular monitoring sites. In 2017/18 we also educated around 2,000 students at more than 20 educational organisations (from early years up to tertiary level) on waterway health. The data from our monitoring sites is lodged via the Waterwatch Victoria online data portal and is used by EPA Victoria for their Annual Report card of waterway health

Merri Events Calendar