Friends of Merri Creek
The importance of urban Landcare
Merri Creek runs from the Great Dividing Range, near Heathcote Junction, through the northern suburbs of Melbourne into the Yarra River just before Dights Falls, Abbotsford. It is the longest tributary of the Yarra River.
Friends of Merri Creek (FoMC) have helped transform the southern section of Merri Creek from being seen as little more than a “rat infested drain” in the 1960s to become a highly desirable place to visit and to live near (as testified by the real estate advertisements).
The group was formed in 1988 as a result of community activism to oppose a freeway along the Creek and to protect and revegetate the Creek valley, thereby providing much-needed open space in the inner northern suburbs. It now has 289 financial members many of which are household memberships and nine of which are organisations.
Our activities include planting, weeding, mulching, litter collection, water quality monitoring and tours to the native grasslands that still survive alongside Merri Creek. Since 2000, over 48,660 indigenous plants have been planted and, in the last four years, 1765 people have attended 165 different activities organised by the group.
FoMC have also been involved in major campaigns to save native grasslands, including a particularly high profile campaign to oppose the Craigieburn Bypass - as the proposed route would have damaged some of those grasslands and crossed the Creek several times. The campaign involved taking the Federal Government to court twice, whereby the first case was won but the second was lost. Although the Bypass has been built, the final route was moved to minimise damage to the grasslands.
Our members were the first to discover two kinds of critically endangered fauna along the creek: the Growling Grass Frog (in 2000) and the Golden Sun Moth (in 2003). The group then held the first ever community surveys of Golden Sun Moths, in 2005 and 2006, developing a useful methodology to survey these rare creatures.
Unlike most Friends groups, FoMC also have a major role in the overall planning and management of the waterway - through the group’s involvement in Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC). FoMC has six representatives on MCMC and they have held most positions on the MCMC executive for many years.
Naturally FoMC works closely with MCMC as well as with local Councils, and Parks Victoria. Landcare Australia has contributed to some of the group’s proudest projects: the creation, revegetation and ongoing management of Merri Park Wetlands in Northcote, and various plantings along the creek to compensate for tree removal for the high voltage electricity transmission line.
The value of urban Landcare can be appreciated by a visit to Merri Creek – a fact that is not lost on local residents and wildlife such as Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos and many other birds, and even echidnas, kangaroos and wallabies, which are being seen more and more regularly in the creek’s vicinity.