Origins and Purpose of the Strategy


This 2009-2014 Strategy represents a major revision of the 1999 Merri Creek & Environs Strategy. The 1999 Strategy itself evolved from a review of the Merri Creek Concept Plan Final Draft (Melbourne Parks and Waterways and Merri Creek Management Committee, 1994). The 1999 Strategy was jointly prepared and owned by Melbourne Water, the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment and the municipalities of Darebin, Hume, Moreland, Whittlesea and Yarra.

A major change from the 1999 Strategy has come about because Melbourne Water and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (now Department of Sustainability and Environment) are no longer a party to it. Whereas Melbourne Water had played a major and active role in facilitating the development of the 1999 Strategy on behalf of the Steering Committee, Melbourne Waters primary planning documents are the Regional River Health Strategy (MW & PPWCMA 2007) and its Addendum, the Melbourne Water Waterways Water Plan (MW 2008b) and Management Unit Investment Plans. As a result it has requested not to be assigned the lead role for any actions under the MCES. However Melbourne Water still broadly supports the intent of the MCES.

Another significant change is the inclusion of Mitchell Shire, thus giving complete local government coverage to the Strategy.

The process of revision of the Strategy required recognition of the role of the Port Phillip & Western Port Catchment Management Authority and close review of the PPWCMAs Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) and associated sub-strategies. Every effort has been made to ensure consistency with the RCS. Specific reference is made to the RCS objectives, targets and actions where relevant.

Revision of the Strategy was undertaken by the Merri Creek & Environs Strategy Implementation Sub-committee of the Merri Creek Management Committee. This committee undertook a review, completed in 2004, of the implementation of the 208 actions in the original Strategy. A summary of the results of the review is shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1 - Outcome of 2004 Action Review


Actions were completed and then deleted.


Actions were deleted as they were considered to be the responsibility of Melb. Water.


Actions were deleted as they were considered to be no longer appropriate/applicable.


Actions were deleted as they are now covered by a revised action.


Actions were completed and the wording was altered.


Actions (other than the completed Actions above) had their wording altered.


Total of the Actions themselves that were either deleted or had the wording altered.




Actions were altered in some way other than the actual Action wording.


Total Actions that were either deleted or altered in one way or another.




Completely new Actions were inserted.


Total of Revised Actions.

Completed actions have not been reproduced in the 2008-2013 Strategy.



The purpose of the Strategy is to provide an overview of important issues along the waterway corridors of the Merri Creek and its tributaries and to document agreed objectives, targets and actions to achieve their resolution. Many of the objectives and targets are derived from the Port Phillip and Western Port Regional Catchment Strategy 2004-2009[1], from Victorian legislation or from the Planning Schemes of member Councils. This means the Merri Creek and Environs Strategy is a tool for achieving state and regional level objectives, at a Merri Creek catchment level.

The Strategys further purpose is to facilitate coordinated action by responsible agencies. The underlying principle of the Strategy is that such coordinated action will ultimately enable protection and rehabilitation of the stream corridors in the Merri catchment.

In addition, as the community sector is recognised as a critical player in stream corridor protection, the Strategy is intended to help articulate community expectations and needs, and involve them in the ongoing achievement of the actions.

The document is intended to operate as a useful planning tool with relevance for the next five to ten years. The Strategy is an implementation aid providing agencies with a coordinated and principled planning framework to address actions along the stream corridors.

The Strategy covers the key issues with recommendations for broad actions of a strategic nature. Actions relating to each chapter are included in the appendix, each listing responsible agencies and giving an overview of the likely notional costs of implementation by all responsible parties and the priority attached to actions.

The document thereby provides a planning framework which each accountable organisation can use to develop their own plans and programs for implementation of actions.

Merri catchment Waterways- An Overview

Merri Creek and Its Catchment

Map 3 - The location of the Merri catchment

The main stem of Merri Creek rises in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, north of Melbourne, around Heathcote Junction. It winds some sixty kilometres south to its junction with the Yarra River at Dights Falls in Abbotsford. It is one of the Yarras major tributaries draining water from a catchment covering some 390 square kilometres.






Map 4 - The Merri catchment waterways

The catchment consists of nine major tributary systems including Wallan, Taylors, Kalkallo, and Curly Sedge Creeks, in predominantly rural areas; Aitken and Malcolm Creeks which drain the expanding suburb of Craigieburn; and Merlynston, Central and Edgars Creeks which flow predominantly through established urban areas (see Map 4).

Much of middle and upper reaches of the catchment is rural with the rapidly growing town of Wallan, and the small townships of Beveridge and Kalkallo. Further south on the urban fringe are the residential and industrial areas of Craigieburn and the new suburb of Aurora (North Epping). The southern part of the catchment, south of the Western Ring Road, is entirely urban.

The catchment includes parts of the municipalities of the Mitchell Shire and the Cities of Whittlesea, Hume, Moreland, Darebin and Yarra.


Land uses through the Merri catchment include pastoral, and increasingly industrial, extractive and urban/residential. Issues affecting the creeks reflect this changing pattern of land use.

Cultural heritage sites both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal are plentiful along the catchments waterways.

Most native vegetation in the catchment has been cleared and what remains is highly significant. The Grasslands and Grassy Woodland remnants of the catchment are ecosystems which are threatened nation-wide. Some have been reserved for conservation purposes but many remain on private land. A range of endangered species occur in the catchment and this has many implications for land management.

The catchments geology, dominated by the geologically recent volcanic eruptions which generated the lava flows forming the basalt plains, includes a number of sites of geological significance.

Pest plants and animals are major issues in the catchment. Erosion and salinity are issues also.

There are many opportunities to extend and improve parks along the waterways.


Like many tributaries of the Yarra River, Merri Creek contributes significant sediment, nutrient and litter loads to inner Melbourne and ultimately to Port Phillip Bay from its rural and urban sub-catchments.

Water quality and litter in the waterways are major issues for users of the waterway corridors, as well as for the ecological health of the Creek. Rural and urban land uses have major detrimental effects on the waterways, but methods to minimize these effects are under development.

Merri Creek often floods, and the protection of people and assets from flooding by the Creek is an important objective.


Within the Merri catchment a high proportion of the population belong to culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The outer suburbs are experiencing strong growth.

In the inner suburbs increasing building density is counterbalanced by declining occupancy rates, meaning relatively stable populations. Melbourne 2030 aims for increasing population densities.

The increased building density in the catchment has implications for open space provision and development, for stormwater runoff quality, quantity and management.

There are many opportunities and benefits to the community to be gained from the ongoing development of creek corridors in the Merri Catchment as open space corridors. These Corridors have the potential to:

· green the northern suburbs;

· provide city to country open space links;

· offer a source of healthy recreation; and

· provide an educational asset.

Much of the catchment outside the urban growth boundary is rural, and through these areas Merri Creek and its tributaries are in private ownership. Rural landowners can contribute significantly to the objectives of this strategy, and many already are. Improving relationships with rural landowners would provide an opportunity to create further gains, and avoid losses.

Recreation and open space

Merri Creek and its tributaries and their immediate surrounds provide important recreation opportunities for nearby communities. Recreation needs studies of the last two decades have identified a clear community preference for more recreation opportunities within informal passive open space. Such a recreational resource can be provided along the waterway corridors.

The lands of the Merri Creek and Edgars Creek corridors provide a link from the inner to the outer suburbs and a potentially diverse range of recreational and open space features. The existing open space and trail system along the Merri Creek corridor as far as the Western Ring Road is a valuable component of the metropolitan-wide network. The Merri Creek Shared Path provides links to Yarra Bend Park and the Yarra River trails, and to the Inner Circle trail and the Metropolitan Ring Road trail.

In their lower reaches, Merri Creek, Edgars Creek and Merlynston Creek flow through urbanised suburbs many with comparatively poor open space provision. The creek corridors provide a limited opportunity for such suburbs to improve their quantity and quality of open space.


Vision and Goals for the Port Phillip & Western Port Catchment

The vision for the future described in the Port Phillip and Western Port Regional Catchment Strategy is as follows:

The Port Phillip and Western Port region will have people working to achieve productive land, habitat for native plants and animals and clean water in the catchments, rivers and bays, making it a healthy, attractive and prosperous place to live, work and visit.

Water goal
Sustainable water use and healthy waterways, wetlands, estuaries, coasts and bays

Land goal
Healthy land used appropriately and productively

Biodiversity goal
Healthy and enduring ecosystems with a diversity of habitats and native species

People goal
The community valuing, understanding and celebrating the regions catchment assets and working to achieve sustainability

(RCS p.16)

The vision and goals for the Port Phillip and Western Port Catchment (see box) have been adopted as overarching principles for the MCES 2008-2013.












Vision for the Merri catchment waterway corridors

To achieve healthy living streams flowing through attractive environments which provide habitat for native animals and are valued by the community as peaceful, passive open space havens. To protect the natural and cultural features of the Merri catchment waterway corridors through sensitive management which will provide a lasting benefit for the community.

The vision for the Merri catchment waterway corridors was developed in the early 1990s and is still appropriate today.






Objectives adopted from the Regional Catchment Strategy

The following objectives were adopted or adapted from the Port Phillip and Western Port Regional Catchment Strategy 2004-2009 (the RCS). Not all objectives were adopted, as the scope of this strategy is more focused on the waterway corridors.

RCS Land objectives

LO2 Protect and improve the health of land

LO3 Ensure sensitively located and functional urban and urban-rural fringe areas with minimal impacts on the catchments biodiversity, water resources and heritage values.

LO4 Match rural land-use, development and management to land capability and minimise impacts on the catchments biodiversity, water resources and heritage values.

LO5 Provide a high-quality network of parks and open space across urban and rural areas managed for community and environmental benefit.

RCS Biodiversity objectives

BO1 Achieve a net gain in the quantity and quality of indigenous vegetation

BO2 Maintain the diversity of indigenous habitats and species in terrestrial, and aquatic environments.

BO3 Achieve sustainable populations of indigenous flora and fauna species.

BO4 Improve the connectivity and long-term security of indigenous habitats and species.

BO5 Encourage intelligent use of introduced flora and fauna species with minimal impacts on indigenous habitats and species.

RCS Water objectives

WO2 Protect and improve the environmental health and social and economic values of waterways and wetlands.

WO4 Improve water quality in catchment waterways, aquifers, and wetlands, estuaries, bays and seas.

WO5 Management of water resources to minimise risks to natural ecosystems, public land, private assets and public safety.

RCS People and organisations objectives

PO1 Enhance catchment planning, coordination, resource allocation, monitoring and reporting.

PO2 Increase the capacity and participation of people and organisations in catchment management.

PO3 Reduce the overall impact of the regional community on catchment assets.

RCS Monitoring objectives

MO1 Adequate, appropriate, efficient and cost effective monitoring of catchment assets, ecosystem processes, trends, risks, implementation of actions and outputs.

MO2 Timely, rigorous and cost effective evaluation of catchment management planning and implementation.

MO3 Timely, tailored, efficient and cost effective reporting on catchment assets, ecosystem processes, trends, risks, catchment management planning and implementation.

Objectives adopted from the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006

Recognise, protect and conserve Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria in ways that are based on respect for Aboriginal knowledge and cultural and traditional practices.

Recognise Aboriginal people as the primary guardians, keepers and knowledge holders of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Accord appropriate status to Aboriginal people with traditional or familial links with Aboriginal cultural heritage in protecting that heritage.

Promote the management of Aboriginal cultural heritage as an integral part of land and natural resource management.

Promote public awareness and understanding of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.

Objectives from the Planning and Environment Act 1987

To conserve and enhance those buildings, areas or other places which are of scientific, aesthetic, architectural or historical interest, or otherwise of special cultural value.

Objectives adopted from the Merri Creek Environmental Significance Overlays[2]

To protect and enhance the natural and visual character of the waterway corridors.

To create a peaceful, passive open space quality in the creek parkland and valley.

Additional objectives developed for this strategy

Encourage community custodianship and interest in the Creek Corridors.

Provide passive recreation, education and information facilities along Creek corridors.

Provide recreational cycling and walking trails along Creek corridors.

Create a safe environment and improve perceptions of safety along Creek Corridors.

Sites of geological or geomorphological significance are identified, protected and used for interpretation of the catchments geological history.

[1] Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (2004)

[2] The Merri Creek ESO is implemented almost identically in Yarra, Moreland, Darebin, Hume and Whittlesea, but not at this stage in Mitchell