Our vision for continuous public parklands along Merri Creek is one step closer with the Victorian government’s 2023 adoption of the Future Directions Plan for the marram baba Merri Creek Regional Parklands, a proposed chain of parks and conservation reserves stretching from Campbellfield to Beveridge in Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung country. marram baba means “body of mother” in Woi-wurrung language.

The proposed parklands will join a number of existing reserves with other areas proposed for parklands acquisition as urban development proceeds.  The expected completion date is 2050. The park will offer habitat for a suite of grassland and woodland species like the vulnerable Growling Grass Frog and critically endangered Golden Sun Moth among many others as well as important opportunities for people to connect with nature.

marram baba

The vision for the Parklands is: marram baba Merri Creek Regional Parklands is the preeminent natural corridor running through Melbourne’s north on Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country, connecting and nurturing culture, nature, water, and people.

The Plan recognises the goals of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people for future management of the Parklands.  Returning land to Traditional Owner management will be a gradual process, with conservation zone parts of the Parklands being the first focus. Funding will be needed to ensure meaningful partnerships with Traditional Owners to support them to work on and care for Country.

According to Merri Creek Management Committee President Ann McGregor, who has been working on a vision for continuous Merri Parklands for close to 50 years, the plan is a long-term, strategic plan involving many government, private and community partners, which will allow native species to move across the landscape.

“A lot of species that need to move to find food or within the seasons are finding that increasingly hard as Melbourne continues to expand,” says Ann. “A connected habitat is vital for these animals.”

“The Future Directions Plan is a good plan for providing an integrated parklands concept, to protect key sites with conservation value. It represents a lot of good intentions but resourcing it will be the key to its effectiveness.”

One of the birds that Ann loves to see along the Merri Creek is the Flame Robin, a seasonal migrant that breeds in the mountains in summer and moves to lowland plains and grasslands, including those along the Merri, in winter.

Flame Robin

“They’re a bright spot in the landscape,” says Ann. “If you see one, then you may well see a dozen. They move in flocks, which is unusual for robins.”

The Flame Robin relies on continuous habitat for its migration, such that Ann and the Merri Creek Management Committee (along with Friends of Merri Creek and Wallan Environment Group) has been fighting for, for decades. Ann’s love of wildlife and birds has inspired her to keep fighting through lengthy planning processes, in which she has learnt the skills of collaborating with organisations and government bodies.

“We’ve learnt how to work with all sorts of people from different organisations. It’s about saying ‘this is what we want’ and building support for our vision, bringing others along for the ride.”

Merri Creek Management Committee will continue to put these lessons in place with its ongoing advocacy work for other parklands, including the wallan wallan Regional Park, a park that will link to the northern extent of marram baba Merri Creek Regional Parklands.

The marram baba Merri Creek Future Directions Plan represents a significant achievement for all who have long advocated for continuous parklands along Merri Creek, including Ann, and all of our supporters and partners. The Merri Creek Management Committee participated in the Parklands Partnership Group, along with local Councils Hume, Mitchell and Whittlesea, DEECA, Melbourne Water, Yarra Valley Water, ParksVic and, most importantly the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation. This group facilitated critical collaboration across all the multiple organisations to develop the plan.  The background hard work was undertaken by staff in the Victorian Suburban Parks Program who readily took on a wealth of specialist information and perspectives from all the parkland partners.

“The lower Merri valley was once a place with very few visitors, where tyres, cars and general waste were dumped,” says Ann. “The marram baba plan is an important step in extending today’s valued and loved bush corridor all the way upstream to Beveridge.”

marram baba signage project nominated for Melbourne Design Award

Merri Creek Management Committee, together with graphic design company Diadem, is celebrating the selection of our wayfinding signage project for the marram baba Parklands in the Melbourne Design Awards. The signage project was funded by the State government’s Suburban Parks Program and was designed for users of the parklands shared trails, viewing platforms and picnic areas.

 “We are proud to support the Merri Creek Management Committee in their critical work to protect and restore the Merri Creek,” says Louise Waters from Diadem. “Through this project, we have gained a newfound appreciation for the creek's natural beauty in the marram baba Parklands, and the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung’s connection to and continual care of Country.”

marram baba signage

Endorsed by the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elders, the Traditional Owners of the marram baba Parkland, the signage includes a welcome in Woi-wurrung and a trail icon designed by Wurundjeri artist Lewis Wandin-Burstall. Four signs feature text provided by Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Doreen Garvey-Wandin. The design embodies core wayfinding principles, providing relevant information at the right time in an easily understandable manner, enhancing the experience of being ‘on Country’.

Special thanks to Dr. Toni Roberts of Hatchling Studio.