Congratulations Ann McGregor!
28th July 2023
We are thrilled to share the news of Ann McGregor's Order of Australia Medal awarded in this year's King's Birthday Honours, for services to conservation and the environment.
On moving to Brunswick in 1976, Ann and Bruce discovered both the parlous state, and the potential, of Merri Creek.
Ann's significant contributions to the efforts to save the Merri from a concrete death sentence, have seen the Merri corridor flourish as an absolute haven in the midst of a steadily urbanising Melbourne. Having both the vision, and the skills, commitment, passion and capacity to engage community and decision makers, Ann and Bruce have worked tirelessly on all fronts.
Bruce and Ann McGregor, photograph by Madeline Bishop
The Merri was long known as a toxic and smelly stream, the Argus, reporting in 1910: "[the smell] is so strong that it takes the paint off the Merri Creek bridge". The Brunswick Merri Creek Action Group undertook some of the first local initiatives to restore the health of the Merri. Formed in 1976, the group campaigned for a path along the creek and the revegetation of the surrounding landscape using locally indigenous plants. Involvement of the "creek councils" was formalised with the Merri Creek Coordinating Committee - becoming the Merri Creek Management Committee in 1989.
Ann was instrumental in forming both those early groups and the Friends of Merri Creek in 1988, and has served as an office bearer on many occasions, including as Vice president since 2002. Ann's professional life as an environmental planner has delivered great benefits and insights into the Merri project, and her environmental interests spread wide, beyond the Merri. Ann's activities match big picture strategic planning and thinking, with on-ground practical works that bring people to the cause, to learn, be inspired, care and spread the word.
Ann inaugurated the Merri Birdwatch in 2008 - a quarterly bird survey in a range of sites along the creek that is building an invaluable data bank recording the bird life in Melbourne's northern suburbs, and has introduced hundreds of people to birding. The Nature Stewards Environmental Education Program initiated and supported by the McGregor family gives participants the opportunity to learn about their surrounding landscapes and ecosystems. Now in its 6th year, there are programs run across the state.
As Friends committee members, we all feel so fortunate to have Ann's experience, knowledge and generosity to guide and support us in furthering the vision. The work continues with advocacy for the natural features near developments to the north. The marram baba Merri Regional Parklands in the middle of the catchment and further north, the Wallan Regional Park, including Herne Swamp, burrung buluk, and the soft green hills, are remnants of Victoria's distant volcanic past. The ecological restoration project has succeeded in drawing communities to the parklands as willing workers, and sharing in the creation of a much loved and cared for piece of the natural world.
Ann continues to be involved in the planning processes which will define these new suburbs, striving to deliver them their own piece of the dream of the Merri parklands, home to indigenous flora and fauna, from the headwaters to the confluence with the Birrarung in Abbotsford.
Our congratulations and thanks to you Ann!
Note: Wurundjeri Woi wurrung have requested Woi wurrung place names be lower case.
The transformation: Merri Park, 1990 and 2015. Images: MCMC