In mid-December 2018 the Wurundjeri Tribe Land Compensation & Cultural Heritage Council’s Narrap (Land Management) Team hosted a lunch at the confluence of the Merri Creek and the Yarra River. A Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony from Uncle Dave Wandin provided a rich cultural context for the 23 participants.
During his Welcome to Country, Uncle Dave Wandin stood before the three eucalypts that were scarred by representatives of the Wandin, Terrick and Nevin Wurundjeri families in September 2016. He spoke about how the Narrap Team had developed from a base of two lawn mowers, a brush cutter and no depot. Narrap Team’s new manager, Sean Hunter, spoke about the strong future for the team with four trainees now working towards their Certificate IV in Conservation and Land Management.
Saltmarsh is most often associated with coastlines, but the Merri Creek in Campbellfield and Thomastown supports some unusual vegetation dominated by salt-tolerant indigenous species. At Galada Tamboore the Merri Creek gorge has exposed ancient sediments, buried when volcanoes erupted along the Merri several million years ago. Where the lava flows and the more ancient sediments meet, naturally saline spring-water wells from the escarpment and saltmarsh plants have gained a foothold.
In order to conserve these special ecosystems, Friends of Merri Creek has secured a $20,000 Melbourne Water Community Grant. Working with Wurundjeri Land Council and community, the project will map, protect and enhance this rare vegetation, and restore endangered shrublands along the adjoining escarpments. The Friends have contracted MCMC to deliver the project, which will run until June 2020.
Photo above: Fireweed Groundsel, Senecio linearifolius, in a vertical saltmarsh at Galada Tamboore.
It should not come as a surprise that MCMC's Waterwatch Program is focussed on Merri Creek. But did you know we extend beyond the Merri? With assistance from some of our member Councils we support activities and community monitors on nearby waterways such as Darebin Creek and Moonee Ponds Creek.
In late October 2018 we ran an event to recruit and train Waterwatch monitors for Darebin Creek. After an introduction to the site, close to Northland Shopping Centre, participants were trained in taking and analysing water samples - from the creek itself and from a drain outfall. One of the enthusiastic participants wrote an inspiring account of the day - see it below.
Merri Creek Management Committee's (MCMC) ecological restoration work was recognised in an award presented by Melbourne Water in March 2019. The Exceptional Contribution Award was for MCMC's efforts to improve riparian condition through Melbourne Water's River Health Incentives Program.
Ryan van den Hove, a Waterway and Land Officer with Melbourne Water, said it was a pleasure to present MCMC with this award that acknowledges Melbourne Water’s appreciation for the successful, high quality projects delivered by MCMC during the group's long history participating in the program.
During the recent Victorian election campaign, the ALP promised to create the new Upper Merri Parklands. This is a welcome recognition of the importance of the upper Merri and the potential for continuous linked parkland along the entire length of Merri Creek. It reflects a 2016 joint initiative of MCMC, Friends of Merri Creek and Wallan Environment Group for the creation of the Greater Wallan-Merri Park, a living landscape for a liveable Melbourne. We look forward to the new Labor government delivering on this promise as prompt action is needed to secure the park.
Labor's commitment also included funding a feasability study for the Wallan Regional Park. This new park, centered on the former Hernes Swamp, is a key part of our vision for the Greater Wallan - Merri Park. It includes the potential to reinstate parts of the swamp, to create an attractive, biodiverse focus for the park.
(Photo: upper Merri Creek in Merriang.)