Merri Creek Management Committee

NEROC MUVP (B) 9, Biosites 3514
Hume – Remnant Vegetation Sites 129, (118), [158]

Calocephalus citreus at Cooper Street Grasslands Western extensionLocation

An area of approximately 100 ha of open space along and surrounding Merri Creek between Barry Road and Cooper Street including the 52.6 ha Cooper Street Grassland Reserve managed by Parks Victoria.

Ecological Communities

The Cooper Street grassland supports large areas of Plains Grassland. Along the Merri Creek are Reference Stands* of Woolly Tea-tree Riparian Scrub (along with those in Craigieburn Grassland, the most intact in NEM) (Beardsell 1997).
Escarpment Shrublands and patches of Red Gum Plains Grassy Woodland also remain.
  • Reference stands:Woolly Tea-tree riparian scrub (18.2); Kangaroo Grass plains grassland (23.2)
  • Relatively intact and extensive stands: Brown-back Wallaby-grass seasonal wetland (25.3)
  • Partially intact or small stands: River Red Gum (volcanic plain) grassy woodland (14.1); Lightwood-Tree Violet cliff/escarpment shrubland (20.5); Kangaroo Grass stony knoll grassland (22.1); Common Tussock-grass plains grassland (23.1)
  • Critical assemblages or populations: Reference stands of Woolly Tea-tree riparian scrub (along with those at Craigieburn Grassland, the most intact in NEM) and Kangaroo Grass plains grassland (one of few ungrazed, species rich stands in NEM).

Flora

The Cooper Street Grassland supports two plant species of national significance (Swollen Swamp Wallaby-grass and Gilgai Blown Grass), and three plant species of State significance. DCE (1990) listed 157 native vascular plant species for the grassland.
The endangered White Diurus and Vulnerable Swamp Diurus occurred on grey soils (similar to those at Cooper St and the O’Herns Road section of Craigieburn Grassland) nearby on the North Eastern Railway reserve at Somerton railway Station until the construction of the standard guage line in the early 1960s (Ros Garnett pers. comm.). The Vulnerable and regionally extinct Leafy Greenhood was a collected along the Merri Creek at Campbellfield in September 1896 by Reverend R. H. Rupp. It more than likely grew in association with the Woolly Tea-tree shrubland on the basalt pavement sections of the floodplain. (NEROC DRAFT – Sept 1992 p. 57)

Fauna

Significant fauna located at the site include the nationally significant Golden Sun Moth, Growling Grass Frog and Striped Legless Lizard, also Swift Parrots have been sighted at the southern end of the grassland. Faunal species of State significance include Little Button Quail and Spotted Harrier.
The patches of Red Gum Plains Grassy Woodland and areas of Escarpment Shrubland support a diverse population of wood/shrubland birds including Australian Owlet-nightjar, Tawny Frogmouth, Dusky Woodswallow, Grey Shrike Thrush and Striated Pardalote.
Beardsell (1997) recorded 92 native fauna species for this site. This included 70 birds, 3 mammals and 19 frogs and reptiles.
Birds – Spotted Harrier, Swift Parrot, Whistling Kite, Swift Parrot, Rufous Songlark, Banded Lapwing, Australian Hobby, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Long-billed Corella, Brown Songlark, Singing Bushlark, Black-shouldered Kite, Banded Lapwing, Musk Lorikeet, Eastern Rosella, Tawny frogmouth, Australian Owlet-nightjar, Tree Martin, Grey Shrike-thrush, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Dusky Woodswallow, Mistletoebird, Striated Pardalote, Grey Butcherbird, Australian Raven
Mammals – Water Rat
Reptiles – Striped Legless Lizard, Red-bellied Black Snake, Common Long-necked Tortoise, Large Striped Skink, Cunningham Skink, Little Whip Snake, Tussock Skink, Common Blue-tongue Lizard, Eastern Three-lined Skink, Southern Water Skink, Eastern Brown Snake, Lowland Copperhead
Frogs – Growling Grass Frog, Bibron’s Toadlet, Common Froglet, Southern Bullfrog, Spotted Marsh Frog, Southern Brown Tree Frog

Site Significance

Overall the area has a high degree of habitat variation, and is of State-National significance for conservation.

The Plains Grassland area is of national significance as habitat for two nationally significant species. The grassland was rated as having State (floral) significance (DCE 1990) and is one of the largest areas of relatively undisturbed native grasslands in the Melbourne area.

The Merri Creek and the River Red Gums along the escarpment are rated as State significance on the basis that the trees infrequently provide habitat for endangered species.

Cooper Street Grassland, together with Craigieburn Grassland and the link between, is listed on the Register of the National Estate (Australian Heritage Commission 1998). The listing was on the basis that the

grasslands are some of the best remaining examples of the grasslands which covered much of the western basalt plains grasslands in Victoria, a community which is considered endangered in Victoria …..Cooper Street grassland display a high degree of habitat variation as it contains large areas of plains grassland, escarpment scrubland, riparian scrub and red gum plains grassy woodland, a rare and restricted vegetation community in Victoria…..”
 

Threats and Management

“Maintenance of faunal significance depends on management investment. Further fragmentation of the grasslands for factory or residential areas and severance of links to Craigieburn Grassland will eliminate reptile species. Loss of the Striped Legless Lizard could result in a decline to low significance.” (Beardsell 1997 V.2 p.66)

Maintain intact riparian link upstream to Craigieburn Grassland and downstream to Barry Road Gorge.

Land tenure and reservation outlook:

DCE (1990) listed Cooper Street Grassland, as one of eight highly significant grasslands in the Melbourne area in private ownership. It recommended investigating its purchase by the government and reservation for conservation.

A small section (22 ha) was subsequently acquired by the state government as a Crown Land Reserve and is managed for conservation. A further 21 ha was added to the reserve in compensation for construction of the Craigieburn Bypass, and the Merri Creek frontage was transferred to Crown Land as part of a deal with the Istra Social Club which owned it as part of the title to their Clubroom area.

Approximately 40 ha of the grassland was lost in 2007-8 to industrial development.

At the southern end of the site there is a stream and floodway zone managed by Melbourne Water. In 2003 a group of wetlands were constructed on part of this site for stormwater treatment.

Strong consideration must be given to acquiring the creek frontage east side adjacent to the reserved land (and linking adjacent sites) from the private owners. In addition to protection of the important species and communities occurring there, and maintaining the habitat corridor - having control of the creek-line is important for protecting the reserved areas from incursions such as the infamous "Jerilderie Cattle Invasion of Merri Creek" of Nov 2002 - late April 2003. (Friends of Merri Creek 2003, p. 4-5)

Private land on which the Golden Sun Moth population has been discovered must be acquired for inclusion in the reserve and appropriately managed to maintain the Austrodanthonia food plants of the larvae.


*Reference Stand: one of the most viable and intact stands representative of its habitat known in GM (Greater Melbourne) (Beardsell 1997 Vol. 1, p. xxv)

There is less than 2% of Victoria’s original volcanic plains grasslands remaining. These grasslands are listed as critically endangered by the Federal Government. Click here for fact sheet. (external pdf).

This is why the Craigieburn Grassland Reserve is so important. The grassland covers approximately 400 hectares between Craigieburn Rd East and OHerns Rd in Melbourne's outer north. It contains Nationally Significant endangered plants such as the Matted Flax-lily Dianella amoena (external pdf) and Curly Sedge Carex tasmanica (external pdf). The grassland is also home to Nationally significant fauna such as the Striped Legless Lizard, the Plains-wanderer and the Golden Sun Moth.

To visit the Craigieburn Grassland Reserve permission must first be obtained from Parks Victoria.

Golden Sun Moth

The Golden Sun Moth is a sun loving moth that is found in the Craigieburn Grassland. The moth was only rediscovered in this area in 2003. Individuals start emerging from their cocoons around mid-November and are rarely seen later than mid-February. They live out their short adult life span in only a few days. See the Golden Sun Moth Lifecycle.

Female Golden Sun Moth showing her colours

This critically endandered animal has made a friend in the Friends of Merri Creek who have planted 7,500 small wallaby grasses in the Craigieburn Grassland Reserve. These wallaby grasses are the favoured food for the Golden Sun Moth caterpillar . The female is thought to lay her eggs in the base of the grasses.

The grasses also provide a playground for the mating dance, with the male moth patrolling the grasslands between 11am and 2pm on sunny days, flying rapidly about a metre above the grass searching for females to mate with while dodging predatory dragonflies and birds.

Females rarely fly. They sit on the ground and flash their brilliantly coloured wings of metallic gold to attract the male (photo above: female Golden Sun Moth).

The Friends of Merri Creek and Merri Creek Management Committee have undertaken surveys of this critically endangered species. Look at a summary of the results of the Golden Sun Moth surveys. Click here for a more detailed report on the Golden Sun Moth surveys (pdf).

More detail on the Craigieburn Grasslands can be found here.

View Craigieburn Grasslands in Google Maps.

Craigieburn Grasslands in Late Summer

Craigieburn Grasslands is made up of Plains Grassland, Grassy Wetland, Stony Knoll Grasslands and Escaprment Shrublands

 

Plains Wanderer

 

 

 

 

The Plains Wanderer is a small, rare ground-dwelling bird found in lowland grasslands, such as Craigieburn Grassland.

 

 

Moomba Park consists of approximately 30 hectatres of open space on the western side of Merri Creek, in Fawkner.

The park was the site of Merri Creek Managment Committee’s bicentennial (1988) planting project at which many thousands of indigenous trees and shrubs were planted in hundreds of plots across the landscape.

These plots now provide, extensive woodland habitat across the landscape, supporting woodland birds and animals such as the Crested Shrike-tit and visiting Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos.

Moomba Park consists of approximately 30 ha of open space on the western side of the Merri Creek, in Fawkner.

Moomba Park in 1988 – Bicentennial planting site

Moomba Park is now a valuable habitat site

Moomba Park is now a valuable habitat site (photo from 2006)

However this site is still under threat from patches of un-managed land within the park which harbour weeds such as blackkberry and pest animals such as rabbits that threaten existing native remnants and revegetation plantings.

People of the area

The Fawkner and the Reservoir communities that surround the Merri Creek in Moomba Park are notable for being a community with a highly diverse ethnic background, including a high proportion of recently arrived migrants. Moomba Park Primary School has also been engaged in many environmental activities at this site.

To find out about the geology of this site click here.

View Moomba Park in Google Maps.

Galada Tamboore is part of Kulin land for which the Wurundjeri, the traditional owners, are custodians. It is about 15km north of Melbourne’s CBD. The Wurundjeri named the area Galada Tamboore meaning ‘creek waterhole’.

Merri Creek runs through Galada Tamboore with the suburb of Campbellfield to the west and Thomastown to the east. A large part of Galada’s nearly 100 hectares is managed by Melbourne Water. Hume Council and Whittlesea Council own adjacent land. Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) helps with management. An important area of grassland will soon be managed by Parks Victoria.

Landscape

The landscape was formed by volcanic eruptions over millions of years. The resulting lava flows shaped the course of Merri Creek and formed the impressive basalt escarpments that are found along the creek valley. Merri Merri means ‘very rocky’ in the language of the Wurundjeri.
The dark boulders are formed of basalt rock from volcanic eruptions nearly one million years ago. The lighter coloured rock, lying below the basalt, is Silurian sandstone - approximately 400 million years old from a time when Australia was covered by seawater!

Find out more about the geology of Galada Tamboore

Galada Tamboore landscape
Environmental imacts
Environmental impacts
There is a stormwater drain outlet in Galada Tamboore that
is full of litter and weeds. How does it get there?
Rubbish gets to Galada Tamboore from schools, parks and
the streets when it rains and the water washes the litter
into Merri Creek via stormwater drains.
How many types of litter can you find in this picture?
Weeds

Exotic weeds such as Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and Soursob (Oxalis pes-caprae) invade Galada Tamboore and threaten indigenous plants.

Exotic weeds

A Rich Land

Wurundjeri-willam people

Galada Tamboore has been a significant site for many thousands of years. The locals created tools near Merri Creek whilst looking out across the grasslands. Tool fragment scatterings from this work make up twelve sites considered to be archaeologically significant. These important sites also include scar trees, from which bowls and sometimes canoes were cut.
Find out more about the Wurundjeri-willam: Aboriginal Heritage of Merri Creek.

Current land use

Galada Tamboore is surrounded by urban and industrial development. Lack of knowledge about the environmental significance of Galada Tamboore has led to its use as a dumping ground for garden and building waste.

Merri Creek Management Committee and Friends of the Merri Creek have been working towards regenerating Galada Tamboore. This includes planting indigenous species, weeding and ecological burns.
Some of the plants being restored include: Tree violet, Sweet bursaria, Hopbush, Yellowbox eucalypts, Red gum, Black wattle and Manna gum.

Life at Galada Tamboore

Habitat for significant fauna

Escarpment cliffs are valuable habitat to many reptiles as well as birds of prey such as kites, kestrels, falcons and eagles which enjoy the soaring updrafts.

The north-facing slopes of the grasslands are warm and full of insects and therefore a great hunting ground for insect eating birds.

In-stream life

Within the creek there is an ever changing waterbug life including dragonfly nymphs, caddisfly larvae, freshwater shrimp and needle bugs (pictured). The needle-bug has a stick-like body and a tail that acts like a snorkel.

Pippit Nest – ground nesting bird A Needle bug collected from the section of Merri Creek which runs through Galada Tamboore
Pippit Nest – ground nesting bird A Needle bug collected from the section of Merri Creek which runs through Galada Tamboore

Find out more about Galada Tamboore.

View Galada Tamboore in Google Maps.