Secretary's report

4th February 2024
By David Gifford

The Friends of Merri Creek have had a good year. Shout-out to committee observer for the last few months Jake Duyvestyn, who has now volunteered to join the full committee. As always, if you are interested in joining the committee, please reach out.

Paul Prentice has continued his relentless campaign of litter clean-ups, scrambling up and down across the creek, from Rushall Station to Craigieburn and many places in between. Clean-ups are the first Sunday of every month, except January due to the heat, and March: it's a week later to avoid clashing with Clean Up Australia Day. Anne Frost's Wednesday Volunteers have been all over as well: from Merri Park Wetland in Northcote, to bababi djinanang Grassland in Fawkner, to the Escarpment Shrubland vegetation in Somerton.

The quarterly bird surveys at ten sites were enjoyed by many participants and picked up a number of finds: Dusky Woodswallows at bababi marning, 43
species in a single outing at galgi ngarrk, and Spotted Pardalotes at many sites.

Though they are a separate group to us, I must acknowledge the efforts of the Friends of Edwardes Lake up along Edgars Creek. I believe they have planted over twenty thousand plants. From the looks of their Facebook photos, pulled out twenty million weeds. The Friends of Coburg Lake have also been studiously working away at their areas on a twice-weekly basis, as have the Friends of Merri Park in Northcote. They have managed to both do a planting and pull out a number of weeds that feels better measured in tonnes. Strettle Wetlands volunteers in Thornbury have continued with their three annual events and the Friends of Edgars Creek are still putting in a solid effort.

A big shout-out to the Friends of Bracken Creek, who had their first event this year. Sometimes, the most successful planting is one where so many people have come out and all the plants are done within an hour. I believe that bodes well for 2024.

Not all of the works for the Merri Creek this year involved taking things out of the ground, or putting them in. The Friends also organised multiple community outreach events this year. Anne Frost spearheaded a walk and talk along the Merri Creek in Fawkner, showing the good works the Merri Creek Management Committee, the Friends and the community have done. Bernie Maguire organised another bus tour up north of the Ring Road, heading up to the upper reaches of the Creek: the Hidden Valley railway reserve, Green Hill, and more sites of note.

The Committee ourselves also took National Tree Day as a chance to visit our fellows in the northern catchment, the Wallan Environment Group, who have been doing good work for decades, and attend their planting day. We thank Claire Weekley for making that happen. We visited their Taylors Creek site, which is thick with beautiful trees. They also showed us a number of sites around the area and the unique yet familiar, erosion issues. It's a very different feeling landscape up there but at the same time, it is all one catchment.

We also did some paperwork. Anne Frost and Claire Weekley put together the Child Safety Policy that we, as the Friends, now adhere to. It's important stuff, and they guided us through the nitty gritty. Bernie Maguire, Jane Miller and Sam Blake put together a brochure for new members. New blood is what will keep us going and help us do new and exciting things and evolve into the future, so this is very important too. Peter Ewer and the Merri Paddle also made progress, as well with their roundtable featuring Melbourne Water and Council officers about rehabilitating the Creek for platypuses in future. There's a long way to go there, but the first step towards progress is knowing where to go.

See you all in 2024.

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