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 2022, 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.

Allan ran the Pascoe Vale Naturalists for 30 years, after it was established by his sons, Kelvin (later MP for Wills) and Lex. He was heavily involved in the restoration of the Coburg Lake wall, following proposals for its removal in the early 1970s. When the Coburg Council officers recommended $60,000 in drainage infrastructure to deal with run off into the Coburg Lake from Sydney Rd (probably $500,000 in today’s money), Allan offered to save Council the money by having the Naturalists Club take over the site and plant it with appropriate plants and maintain it. Some of the trees he planted there are now around 50 years old.

During 1980, Allan assisted in mapping the route for the Merri pathway in Coburg, which is now a reality. He also proposed a litter study for Coburg Lake, which became a Melbourne first. The Strettle Wetland in Thornbury is another one of many direct outcomes of Allan’s actions.

Allan Thomson OAM certainly led a life that mattered: he made a difference!