Friends of Merri Creek
Darebin Council to buy Lakeside College land

Thanks to the Darebin City Council, for voting on 5 September, to purchase approximately 1.8h of creek frontage abutting the former Lakeside College from the Education Department for $270,000 plus GST. This is a great win for the environment, as now the land, which includes Critically Endangered indigenous vegetation as well as the shared path, will continue to be cared for by Darebin Council, rather than left to be taken over by weeds, which is usually the case with private developers.

The Council also offered $6.9 million for the former Ruthven Primary School site, to be used as open space. The unfortunate side to these great outcomes is that the public has to pay twice for the land. Thanks to our members and supporters who lobbied for this win.

New "Help the Blue-banded Bee" crowd-funding campaign

This project aims to increase the numbers and reproductive potential of the Matted Flax-lily, Dianella amoena along the Merri Creek. The Matted Flax-lily is Critically Endangered Australia-wide due to destruction of its grassland habitat. Only a few thousand plants have been mapped through Victoria and Tasmania.  Remnant plants are threatened by competition from weeds and population isolation that can lead to genetic decline and low fertility. 

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Changes along Merri path
New wetland in Moreland: We now have a wetland in Moreland near the Edgars Creek confluence with Merri Creek in Coburg. Major excavation works were completed by May and some ponds are already holding water. Plant stock has been secured and planting will begin once conditions are favourable.
New footbridge south of Murray Rd: Construction is progressing well on this bridge near Connolly Ave Coburg.
Playground upgrade: The playground at Kirkdale Reserve East Brunswick is complete and includes a bird hide and cubby house.
A Stroll Along the Merri
Abigail Belfrage has written about a walk along Merri Creek through Northcote and Brunswick, using historic material from Victoria’s Public Record Office and her own photos. She aims to provide material which evokes a cultural landscape and enable a greater understanding of the local history. See the article here.
Latest Submissions (July 2016)
Our members, Ann McGregor and Yasmin Kelsall, have been constantly busy making submissions to Precinct Structure Plans on behalf of FoMC. The latest submission was to proposed Amendment GC28, Whittlesea & Mitchell Planning Schemes Donnybrook-Woodstock Precinct Structure Plan. Ann has also commented on the re-zoning of an industrial site next to Merri Creek on Moreland Rd, where multi-storey apartments are proposed.
Woody Weeds get Whacked
Amazingly, the Woody Weed Whackers (or ‘Impossible Mission’ Force) has now removed the Gorse, Broom, and Briar Rose bushes from about three-quarters of Bababi Marning (Cooper St Grasslands) and we’re now moving into the last stretch. This group has expanded lately as more people have begun to appreciate the immediate rewards of liberating the grassland from woody weeds. Parks Victoria has helped our work, mainly on the Merri Creek escarpment, by supplying us with $400 worth of tools and the employment of contractors who removed the heaviest infestations from the flat areas. But we could do with some more help – and you would also get to enjoy the big mob of kangaroos that always show up. See "What's On" for our next activities.
Upcoming FoMC changes
We are looking at providing on-line membership, thanks to our webmaster, Simon D’Alfonso, and our Membership Secretary, Monica Williamson, with valuable input from Yasmin Kelsall, and we are also considering a new email address.
Lakeside College land issue update
FoMC has been part of a community campaign where we’ve written letters, made submissions and participated in meetings to argue for the creek frontage of the former Lakeside Secondary College at Radford Rd Reservoir staying in public ownership. We are encouraged by Darebin Council’s recent decision to offer to buy the creek frontage land, although taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the land twice.
Successful grant for Happenstance Festival
FoMC is the auspice organisation for a $5,000 Celebrating Place Grant from Moreland Council for this innovative series of art happenings that will occur along the Merri Creek trail in Fawkner on one afternoon in summer 2017. There will be interactive non-verbal performances that aim to increase appreciation of the natural environment and encourage audiences to look at their area as a place full of wonder and beauty.
Successful Grant Applications 2016

We have started off 2016 well with the following two grants:

  • A Community Volunteer Action Grant of $19,890 for the project: Matted and Tangled: Fine scale threat reduction for urban Flax-lily populations; which aims to improve the habitat for critically endangered plants.
  • A Melbourne Water Community Grant of $22,919.60 for the project: East Brunswick habitats for fauna, flora and people, for planting and weed control along 700m of creek near CERES in East Brunswick. Melbourne Water also gave us a Group Support Grant of $550 for provision of much-needed display material for community events.
Help keep the Merri Creek Parklands in public hands
Victrack is proposing to sell public land alongside Merri Creek in Northcote for development. Click HERE to lodge your opposition to it.
Successful Grant Applications 2015
We have kicked off 2015 by receiving the following grants, thanks to MCMC’s Conservation Program Manager, Katrina Roberg:
$49,810.15 from Communities For Nature for the project: The Need for Seed, to enhance remnant vegetation along the Merri Creek and establish genetically selected plantings of three depleted plants to act as ‘seed orchards.’
$20,000 from Melbourne Water River Health Incentives program for the project: Koonda lat is where it’s at, to control weeds, restore habitat and engage the new residents of nearby apartments near the Koonda Lat bridge on the shared path in Northcote. Plus a $1,000 Melbourne Water Group Support Grant for purchase of loppers, barbecue, hand mattocks, and admin support.
$3,000 from Parks Victoria, through their Volunteer Group Long Service Award, for the project: Celebrating Nature in our Native Grasslands - Cooper St Grassland, for woody weed control, a bird talk, activity day, reptile display and barbecue.
Protecting the Upper Merri
Recently, FoMC has made three submissions to protect biodiversity from large scale development occurring in the upper Merri: to the Wallan Structure Plan; to the Craigieburn North Employment Area Precinct Structure Plan; and to the English Street Precinct Structure Plan and draft Amendment C183 to the Whittlesea Planning Scheme. Thank you to Yasmin Kelsall and Ann McGregor for putting these submissions together.
Goodbye to FoMC office
We have now left the office at Brunswick Town Hall after at least 14 years, marking the end of a significant era for the group. Read More
$1000 Donation
We received this generous donation from The Grove Wholistic Centre for Spirituality Inc., which has ceased operating and distributed its remaining assets to organisations “that have purposes or values closely connected to those of The Grove.” Read More
Merri Trail land for sale

The Education Department intends to sell the former Lakeside Secondary College site in Reservoir, which includes the Merri Trail.

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Poetry on the Merri
Radio National on 7 June 2014 broadcast the program Poetica Spirit of Place: Genii Loci, featuring John Anderson and his love of the Merri Creek and Red Gum forests. You can hear it at:
Gnawing away at Beavers Rd Northcote
FoMC has been in discussion with Darebin City Council about the ownership and management of the land alongside Merri Creek between Beavers and Arthurton Roads Northcote. Currently, the land is privately owned by the businesses fronting the creek and they have failed miserably to look after the steep escarpment, which is ugly and covered with weeds. Not only that, but they can’t even properly maintain the buildings on the rest of the site, with the underpinnings spilling out onto the access road from a holding wall due to missing sleepers that haven’t been replaced for well over a year.
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Darebin Natural Heritage Plan approved
Thanks to those Darebin members who responded to the campaign run by new community group, Wild Darebin, to urge Darebin Council to fund the finalisation of the Natural Heritage Plan ($30,000) in their 2014/15 Budget. This plan was presented as a draft in 2011 and identifies important flora and geological sites in the area, especially on the Merri and Darebin Creeks. The campaign, strongly supported by FoMC and Greens Councillor Trent McCarthy, was successful and Darebin Council approved the funding on 30 June. Now the next step is to ensure that the plan retains its effectiveness and is implemented rigorously once it is adopted.
Brunswick Terminal Station
We were stunned to find out that Moreland Council had issued a permit for the proposed works at the Brunswick Terminal Station. The high level of community concern expressed at a well-attended public meeting had led us to believe that there would be further consultation before approval.
We now have quite a battle on our hands to try and mitigate the effects of concrete retaining walls that are 80m long and 4m high (in places) on the boundary. These walls are a big departure from the original plan, so we’ll definitely try for a more acceptable solution.
Another successful grant
FoMC thanks the Moreland Community Grants Program for $5500 which allows our sub-group MECCARG to continue gathering Murnong at their unique Wurundjeri Cultural Renewal & Community Craft Day on 8 November. (Put this date in your diary now.)
New Honorary Life Members
Congratulations to our newest Honorary Life Members: Irene Baker for coordinating the Streamteam Group for over ten years; and Dean Lombard for his superb layouts of the Friends’ newsletter for over ten years.
Celebrating FoMC’s 25th birthday
In November this year it will be 25 years since the Friends of Merri Creek was formed. We want to hear your ideas about how to celebrate this anniversary: please email your suggestions to before the end of August. Read More
Merri BirdWatch data - scientifically valuable
Our bird surveys since November 2008 have amassed a significant body of data. Susanna Bryceson has analysed the data from 199 surveys as part of her Biological Sciences studies at La Trobe University. The analyses explored bird diversity along the Merri’s rural to inner-urban corridor, relationship to habitat types and to rainfall, and aspects of seasonal migration. Here are some of her interesting findings. Read More
Upper Merri developments
Conservationists trying to protect nature in the upper Merri have been dealt a very poor hand from a deck heavily stacked in favour of developers by the Victorian Government.
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Improving gorge-ous views

Friends of Merri Creek, has received $19,997 from the Melbourne Water River Health Incentives program for restoring 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. Everyone is invited to the community planting and BBQ on 15 June.

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Entire Merri Creek walked
From Good Friday to 4 April, FoMC member and artist Rebecca Mayo walked all the way from the source of Merri Creek to its confluence with the Yarra River. Find out all about her seven day walk on he blog: Read More
Vale Jack Svendsen
Jack Svendsen, who was a long term volunteer in the FoMC office, died on Friday 19 October 2012, just a few days short of his 83rd birthday. Read More
National Landcare Awards - results

Unfortunately, Friends of Merri Creek didn't win the National Urban Landcare Award, but we received a Special Commendation, which was equivalent to coming second. Thanks to those who voted for us to win the People's Choice Award, but this went to Youngtown Primary School in Tasmania.

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Seeking action on Marran Baba

We have written to the Chief Executive of Parks Victoria, Dr Bill Jackson, asking him to ensure action on Marran Baba (Merri Creek Parklands north of the Western Ring Road) and enclosing a timeline showing a list of delays extending over almost ten years (see the May Merri Growler, p 4-5).


Photo gallery of Merri creek

See photos of Merri Creek by Darron Davies at:


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