Congratulations to Friends of Merri Creek, for gaining $19,997 from the Melbourne Water River Health Incentives program 2014 to restore native vegetation at the striking Northcote Gorge. This volcanic escarpment on the east bank of Merri Creek north of Heidelberg Rd Northcote, still retains some of its original vegetation. The project, Gorge-ous Views! Restoring the Merri Creek Habitat Corridor, involves controlling serious environmental weeds, then planting trees, shrubs, and dense ground-storey plants. Merri Creek Management Committee will help the Friends to deliver the project
Everyone is invited to a community planting and BBQ on 15 June 2014 for this project. See our events calendar (lower left of page) for more details.
This will hopefully be just the first stage in the eventual conversion of the largest block of exotic weeds remaining in the area between Heidelberg Rd and High St Northcote. As this is narrow stretch of creek corridor, it vital to improve its habitat quality to increase its value as a wildlife passage.
Merri Creek Management Committee has received $19,947 from the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA for the project Getting Edgy: Addressing Edge Effects at Ngarri-djarrang Grassland Reservoir. The project aims to secure a fire break to protect Reservoir’s critically endangered Temperate Grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plains.
121 species of native plants have been recorded at Ngarri-djarrang Grassland, which is considered of State Significance for conservation due to its high plant diversity. Endangered plants like a nationally significant population of Matted Flax Lily, state-significant Rye Beetle-grass and even orchids have persisted at Ngarri-djarrang, surrounded by houses.
The project will focus on controlling the weeds at the edges of the site, particularly the eastern boundary, where grassland meets private back yards, and the area alongside the new gravel fire break. Afterwards, these areas will be revegetated by direct seeding and a community planting, scheduled for 13 July 2014. Check out our events calendar (lower left of page) for more details.
Thomastown Secondary College students have made a huge improvement to Edgars Creek near Main Street Thomastown. In late August they planted 900 trees and shrubs into a series of plots near the creek and also took time to learn about waterbugs and other features of the creek habitat. Local MP, Bronwyn Halfpenny, teachers, MCMC staff and others joined in the action.
Then, two weeks later, students created an indigenous garden in their school grounds, not far from Edgars Creek, and got more than 400 plants into the ground.
These activities were part of the Edgars Creek: Creek Connections project, funded by Port Phillip & Westernport CMA.
Believe it or not, private land titles that go to the edge of Merri Creek still exist in Melbourne’s inner suburbs.
Forty years ago there were many private land parcels to the edge of the creek. One of the earliest actions of MCMC’s predecessor, the Merri Creek Coordinating Committee, was to work on achieving a corridor of public land along the creek. This provided access for the shared trail, appreciation of the creek surrounds, and coordinated revegetation and weed control.
The lack of continuous public land still creates problems along Merri Creek, especially as private land frontage often harbours high levels of environmental weeds. This is an issue that MCMC plans to focus strongly on in the coming year.
It starts with a match. A tiny flame blossoms amid the dry grasses along the Merri Creek in early autumn. Lighting the flame is an elderly man. Witnessing the event are a dozen younger men and women, mostly strangers to the elder. They are ready with equipment to direct the growing flames and keep the fire from running away. An hour later, a hectare of blackened grass is smoking quietly, waiting for rains to rejuvenate the grassland’s wildflowers and ecological processes.
The group rejoices in a job well done and reflects on the significance of the event: an Elder of the Wurundjeri has again lit the fires that were central to his ancestors’ culture, ecology and economy for thousands of years. A few years later, and the man’s relatives are now the ones holding the hoses, the drip-torches and weather meter that are part of current burning practice for Native Grassland near the Merri Creek. The little flame of interest sparked in 2011 has taken among the Wurundjeri community. This burning season, Wurundjeri Elders and trainees from the Wurundjeri Narrap team, and even members of the next generation, took part in the ecological burns along the Merri Creek alongside MCMC and Darebin bush crews.
Mentoring and partnership has taken on new urgency as Wurundjeri build the skills to again conduct their own burns. Sites in Sunbury and Mount William were returned to Wurundjeri ownership and management in 2012. A growing exchange in knowledge between Wurundjeri and MCMC has been building through cultural days and relationships fostered through joint activities. A deeper appreciation for the land, its people and the work to repair it is growing among both groups.
Reinforcing Grassland Ecological Values in the Merri Catchment north of Melbourne is the title and intention of a
three-year project by Merri Creek Management Committee. Works are funded under the Federal Caring for Our Country grant and supported by Darebin and Hume Councils, Parks Victoria, and the Merristock agricultural company. Works have also been carried out in cooperation with VLine.
Between 2010 and 2013, five diverse significant Volcanic Plains landscapes have been subject of projects to achieve ecological improvements.
Several innovative approaches have been trialled and are being carefully monitored. Findings from these trials will be shared via communication resources developed under the grant including E-newsletter, tours, journal articles and a google Earth Tour.
Merri Creek Management Committee has been working with the Victorian National Parks Association Nature Watch program to monitor remnant populations of Plains Yam Daisy, or Murnong, on the Merri Creek at Kalkallo, north of Melbourne. A report of this program appears in the June edition of the Victorian National Parks Association magazine, Park Watch, June 2012, No. 249, on pages 8 & 9.
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This tour was prepared by Tony Faithfull.
Merri Creek is Victoria’s most popular urban waterway – says a Dept of Sustainability & Environment survey: ‘My Victorian Waterway: Personal connections with rivers, wetlands and estuaries in Victoria’ Nov. 2011, p6.