Merri Creek Management Committee

Water sampling MP CreekMCMC Waterwatch had a busy early spring working with local community collecting information on the water quality of the Moonee Ponds Creek. We focused on the area close to Strathmore North Primary School (PS). Our aim was to get baseline data of the current water quality of the Moonee Ponds Creek at this site before works started to remove the concrete channel, and where possible, to involve the local community in this data collection.

Strathmore North PS Year 4 science students completed water testing in early October (2022). Although the salinity (720 EC) wasn’t as high as other sampling dates and pH was within normal limits, nutrient levels and turbidity (muddiness) were all high. Then, in late October, Brunswick Cubs completed water testing and found that salinity was very high (2200 EC!), as were nutrients and turbidity.

LGBTIQ Friends1Congratulations to two of our member groups on their success with the Melbourne Water Victorian Landcare Grants 2022. 

The Friends of Merri Creek LGBTQI+ subgroup, Queermates of Bababi Djinanang, were granted $14,227 for the project: Queermates - building biodiversity at Bababi Djinanang. The project will facilitate training workshops and activities to restore degraded sections of the Bababi Djinanang grassland, next to Merri Creek in Fawkner. MCMC staff developed the grant application in close consultation with the group.

Button everlasting Coronidium scorpioidesThe Wallan Environment Group received $19,785 to remove gorse and blackberry along an old rail reserve to the north of Hidden Valley on the outskirts of Wallan. This reserve, at the top of the Merri catchment, contains some stunning remnant vegetation, including wildflowers like the Button Everlasting (Coronidium scorpioides) (photo). The rail reserve is a focus for the recently formed 'Friends of Hidden Valley Bushland Reserves'. MCMC's Upper Merri Landcare Facilitator, Chris Cobern, helped with weed mapping and identification of significant plants of this area.  

EziGuard Fluted Guard Standard 324x324After the recent floods, we received many concerned comments about the number of tree guards in the debris that accumulated in Merri Creek. Here's what we plan to do about the problem.

As a general rule Merri Creek Management Committee avoids using coreflute tree guards in floodzones as they are too flimsy. However occasionally our clients require us to use materials that they provide. Because coreflute guards have now caused such a litter problem (not all from our own plantings) we are talking with our clients about using more appropriate materials for future plantings in flood-prone areas.

Wallan flooding2The Merri Creek broke its banks and moved out onto flood plains as a result of heavy rains in October. Hernes Swamp, near Wallan in the upper Merri catchment, showed why it's called a swamp (see photo) and other Wallan swamps were similarly filled. This clip gives an excellent view of the expanse of Hernes Swamp.

Downstream, parts of the Merri Shared Path were underwater and constructed wetland, Strettle Wetland in Thornbury, was filled by overflow from Merri Creek. With the floods came masses of litter and the imperative to remove entangled plastics before they degrade into microplastics and contaminate aquatic life of the Birrarung (Yarra), Port Philip Bay and beyond. MCMC and the Friends of Merri Creek were featured in the local Brunswick Voice and The Age about the problem of litter, especially plastics, in and around Merri Creek.

Allan Thomson 1988 WhitsundayAllan Thomson, a pioneer in planting native plants, and a founding member and Treasurer of the Merri Creek Coordinating Committee (the forerunner to Merri Creek Management Committee) from 1976-1987, died peacefully in early September, after a long illness. He was the co-author of Plants of the Merri Merri: A Guide to the Indigenous Vegetation of the Merri Creek Valley and Melbourne’s Northern Suburbs (1984), one of the first planting guides published on Melbourne’s waterways. Allan’s Order of Australia nomination listed 13 of his volunteer roles, but those who knew him well, know that he had even more.

Kindergarten group walkA few months ago MCMC completed the second year of a three-year nature play project funded by a Hume Council community grant. We supported three of Hume's early years communities to lead outdoor nature play in Hume's open spaces. Overall, 162 participants were involved in six sessions and visits were made to parks and wetlands within walking distance of the early years centres. In some cases it was the first time the adults had visited these nearby areas. Groups were inspired to get out into nature more regularly and to seek funding for useful clothing such as raincoats.

Early Years educators appreciated the support we gave in planning planning and undertaking nature play visits to nearby natural areas. Now we are getting ready to re-connect with Hume’s early years communities for the third year of this leadership project.

Photo: A Hume Kindergarten group walks for the first time to the nearby wetlands of Malcolm Creek 

platygroupduskwalkAt dusk on the 18th of September, 29 participants met in the pouring rain at Dights Falls on Wurundjeri Woi wurrung country  where Merri Creek meets the Birrarung (Yarra River), to learn about platypus in our local waterways. It was a part of the Australian Conservation Foundation Platy-project, a citizen science project, which aims to gather data on the presence or absence of platypus across the country. MCMC was pleased to partner on this project.

The participants learned about issues like "urban stream syndrome" where rapid stormwater runoff from hard urban surfaces (roads and roofs) after rain leads to swift increases in the amount of water and speed of flow in creeks, brings high nutrient and sediment loads, causes erosion of bank and results in low levels of sensitive aquatic macroinvertebrates (waterbugs). This threatens the breeding capacity and wellbeing of platypus, as they rely on waterbugs for their diet, and stable banks of creeks to make their burrows.

Platypus talkIt’s important to inspire the younger citizen scientists of today. As part of Platypus month, Julia Cirillo (MCMC Waterwatch Coordinator) partnered up with Ben Hudson (Melbourne Water Waterwatch Coordinator) and Charlotte Napper (Merri-bek Council Conservation Program Officer) in late September, to deliver a fun school holiday morning focused around Platypus education for children and their families within the Merri-bek municipality.

Over 40 participants learned about waterbugs and the important role they play in the Platypus ecology. The kids enjoyed presentations on the platypus, quizzes, and testing the water quality of the local wetlands. The feedback was exceptional and it was great to get kids outdoors during school holidays.

The event was funded by Merri-bek City Council.

Wurundjeri partnership with Uncle Dave talkingWe recently completed the second phase of a multi-year collaboration between MCMC and the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation (WWCHAC). The project is funded by a grant from the City of Yarra to explore cultural and ecological values at the Merri and Birrarung Confluence. 

The slideshows from two online events - Talking Merri Birrarung: Caring for Country where the Merri flows into Birrarung (Yarra River) in December 2021 and January 2022 - reflect the project’s goal to enrich community connections to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country. They are valuable resources on local intercultural responses to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung cultural practices.

MerriCreekWQsensorsGaladaTamboore2021This Webinar showcases water quality data collected in 2020-21 by two sensors in Merri Creek (located in Galada Tamboore and Nth Fitzroy) which measured water temperature and light every hour, and turbidity (water clarity) every two minutes. The project, which involved RMIT University, local councils and MCMC, enabled data to be accessed without having to enter the stream.

In the Webinar, RMIT and MCMC discuss the results and what they mean for the ongoing ecological health of Merri Creek. Also, the Cities of Merri-bek (formerly Moreland) and Whittlesea reveal the water quality improvement projects they are undertaking.