CU Jane Miller on the Merri

My place: a Q&A with the people who love and protect the Merri

Favourite spot on the Merri Creek?

My two favourite spots are bababi marning and galgi ngarrk native grassland reserves. These places feel far-removed from urban Melbourne, even with the city skyline on the horizon. ngarri-djarrang is a treasure trove of grassland species, and spending time walking there – eyes down and peeled – is a meditation.

Favourite time of year on the Merri?

I love autumn and winter, as things recover from summer, and even though weeds arrive, it’s the time to plant too, so a time of positivity and optimism. The light slants through the trees beautifully, casting shadows across the water and the paths. And I do love weeding! A transformative act.

A memory you hold dear of seeing a native animal or plant on the creek?

I went on an MCMC trip to galgi ngarrk in 2022, on a typical September day, to see alternately, shafts of sunlight and grey skies. Seeing the curly sedge alongside Curly Sedge Creek and the species that found homes in and around the stony knolls was a highlight.

What’s your favourite Merri Creek bird/animal/plant?

Wahlenbergia Native Bluebell – I love blue and this plant is a mix of fragility and persistence – except when I try to grow it! Sweet Bursaria is another favourite. And the scented tree violet, and the wonderful varieties of grasses.

Which person that you met volunteering on the creek will you never forget and why?

I have met such a committed, generous and knowledgeable group of people working together and contributing in many and varied ways to the shared task – and over a sustained 40 plus years. Special mention of Ann and Bruce McGregor, from the Friends of Merri Creek, and Luisa Macmillan and Tony Faithfull, from Merri Creek Management Committee – remarkable contributions!

What inspired you to start volunteering for Merri Creek?

I am fortunate to live near the creek and walked along various sections regularly, so after attending an AGM for the Friends of the Merri Creek and hearing the callout for committee members – I joined.

What achievement are you most proud of through volunteering for Merri Creek?

Being part of a group of people working together. It is a wonderful opportunity, being able to contribute to caring for and protecting Merri Creek as it flows through Wurundjeri Country.Watching a site restore over time, and see it change through the seasons is inspiring. I value helping to spread the word into the online world (through my Facebook work) on the Friends and subgroups – and on the range of issues impacting waterways and parklands in urban settings, and their threatened and vulnerable species and ecosystems.

What would you say to someone considering joining a Friends of group?

Do it! So much essential caring and restorative work is done by volunteers – in many settings – not just the natural world. And you learn so much, through pitching in and connecting with the (often) local community.

Jane Miller is a former MCMC Committee of Management member and has played a huge role in putting together the Merri Growler and the Friends of Merri Creek Facebook page. Friends of Merri Creek is the community member group for Merri Creek Management Committee. Sign up to hear volunteer events here.