Merri Creek Management Committee

Top Ten plants for a local indigenous gardenCommon bluebell small

Are you keen to have indigenous plants in your garden and to contribute to local biodiversity of the Merri?  Here are our top ten plants.  We've chosen them because of their:

  • attractive foliage, form and flower
  • ease of cultivation
  • adaptability to a wide range of conditions
  • size - none are too large or wide for a small garden
  • good value for attracting wildlife
  • ready cultivation by seed, cutting or division

Plains Yam DaisyThe story of the Plains Yam Daisy links us to thousands of years of this land’s traditional custodianship and to conservation challenges facing current and future generations. In May 2014, a community survey added another line to this story.

For thousands of years, the daisy’s sweet, fat roots were a staple food for local Aboriginal people. The abundance of Yam Daisy reported by early European explorers seems likely the result of the careful tending of the land to sustain important foodplants.

The introduction of sheep in 1835 broke this age-old relationship. On the grassy plains around Melbourne, the flocks ate the daisies and then dug up and ate the roots. Within a few years the daisy was decimated. Detailed knowledge around this plant disappeared along with the forced removal of Aboriginal people from their land, their language and their traditional way of life. 

The lost Aboriginal knowledge might have shed light on the botanical puzzle facing scientists in the second half of the twentieth century. Since 1800, different forms of yam daisy had been collected and named from different parts of the landscape in Australia and New Zealand. In the 1970s, when fresh collections of plants were made, it was discovered that a skinny-flowered kind once found across the basalt plains north and west of Melbourne was now extremely rare …and, it was getting rarer.

The Ecological Restoration Team

The Ecological Restoration Team manages and restores native vegetation along Merri Creek. Team members are native vegetation management practitioners who generally have qualifications in natural resource management or a related environmental field.

Key Tasks and the volunteering day

The focus of the teams' work is regeneration and restoration of indigenous vegetation, generally within public parklands. Works typically involve weed control (manual and chemical treatments) and planting (during autumn and winter), as well as other related activities such as litter removal, fencing, pruning and trail maintenance. On a day-to-day basis, the team usually works in groups of three to four staff, beginning the day at our works depot (2 Lee St Brunswick East). We start early and work all day in the field, usually quite strenuously.

The volunteer experience with the Ecological Restoration Team is most suited to students and graduates in a natural resource management related field. We also encourage those who would like to 'try out' their interest in this field of work, or those from other industries who would like to gain an insight into our work, or want to contribute to the Merri Creek's restoration. We try to be flexible to accommodate volunteers' needs; however flexibility and capacity to host volunteers may be limited at times because we have to meet our workplace commitments.

Below is an outline of the day-to-day operation of the team, what we provide and what volunteers need to bring along.

Congratulations to the Friends of Merri Creek, for gaining a $20,000 grant from the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA toKalkallo stony knoll restore critically endangered volcanic plains grassland in Kalkallo. The project: Stages in Restoration - Stony Knolls in Kalkallo aims to re-establish shrubs and continue weed control on areas of stony knolls in Kalkallo, where woody weeds have already been removed. It will also establish an access track that will also serve as a fire break, and continue woody weed removal effort along the eastern boundary of Donnybrook Cemetery. Merri Creek Management Committee is assisting the Friends in the delivery of this project in 2014-15.

Fifty-two species of indigenous plants have been identified at this Kalkallo Common Stony knoll project site. These include species that are rare in the Merri Creek valley, such as Slender Tick-trefoil, and Common Bronzewing Pigeon, which is not a common bird around here! Much of this rare remnant of stony knoll vegetation is still being smothered by dense thickets of Gorse and other woody weeds. This grant will enable the indigenous vegetation to be set free.

There’s a community planting scheduled for 22 June 2014 (see events calendar on lower left of page for details).

- the Ngarri-djarrang (Central Creek) example
Brian Bainbridge March 2009

Summary and introductory information

The State significant Ngarri-djarrang[1] Grassland Reserve covers approximately nine hectares of remnant volcanic plain grassland[2] to the east of Central Creek, a tributary of Merri Creek in the northern Melbourne suburb of Reservoir, Victoria, Australia. Threatened by weed invasion, adhoc biomass reduction and uncontrolled access, restorationof this site has been an ongoing commitment of the Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) since 1993.

Highly commended ecological restoration project by Global Restoration Network

The catchment-scale restoration of Merri Creek by Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) has been selected in the 'Highly Commended - Projects with Potential for Biodiversity Research Partnerships' category in the Ecological Management and Restoration Journal’s search for the ‘Top 20’ ecological restoration projects in Australasia.

For the project nomination we prepared a report on our experience of restoring a native grassland in the northern Melbourne suburb of Reservoir. The report Restoring a Native Grassland community – the Ngarri djarrang (Central Creek) example illustrates the ecological restoration work we undertake.

Download the Ngarri-djarrang Restoration report (pdf)