News – January, 2014 [updated 14/3]

Happy New Year!

We trust all our Friends had as wonderful a New Year and holiday break as possible.  We had quite a busy year in 2013 and are now looking forward to the challenges of 2014.

Melbourne Water Grant

  • The Committee is delighted to announce that our grant application to Melbourne Water has been successful!  This provides $5,300 over 18 months for plants and equipment.
  • Once approved by Council, the grant’s resources will be allocated to rehabilitating the land adjacent to 60 Main Street and also for revegetating the Malcolm Street Billabong surrounds.

“Aussie quiet-achiever” Recognised on Australia Day

  • Many of our Friends will know Alan Lodge as a familiar face at working bees, in the park and in the community in general.  Alan received a City of Whitehorse Community Achievement Award on Australia Day for the enormous contributions he has made over many decades to Blackburn Creeklands and to the Bungalook nursery run by Whitehorse Community Indigenous Plant Program.

alan

  • Alan is one of those tireless, regular and persistent contributors who has really made a very significant difference to the quality of our local environment which we all share in – derived from more than 25 years of community service as a quintessential “Aussie quiet-achiever”.
  • Alan’s professional expertise in surveying and storm-water management derived from his long and successful career with the MMBW has been of considerable value – as has his commonsense and willingness to contribute in general.  He works tirelessly in the park weeding, collecting seed, propagating and planting throughout the year.
  • One of Alan’s major successes in the park is the challenging Blacks Walk Hill area which he has weeded and revegetated with indigenous plants over many years.  He also recognised the remnant indigenous grasses there and lobbied council to protect them from the mowers.    In recent times, a rare subspecies of grass has been identified growing on the Hill.  It would be thanks to Alan that it is still in existence.
  • One group of knowledgeable visitors to the Creeklands recently commented that it was “lucky we had no blackberries”.  In fact, this was no matter of luck – it is largely due to Alan’s persistent and often single handed activities directed at removal of that challenging weed.
  • Alan’s passion and enthusiasm is unique as is his capacity for hard work regardless of the weather.  One example is a patch of ground just east of the Middleborough Road entrance which contained a lovely but stressed old Eucalypt surrounded by rock-hard compacted soil -formerly a horse corral when Alan first arrived in Blackburn.  Over a number of years Alan was the motivating force and one of two who worked in all weather to dig over the soil, plant and to bucket water from the steep-banked creek nearby to keep the plants alive through years of drought.  Looking at the area of “bush” now, it is almost impossible to imagine the area as it was. The eucalypt also has had a new lease of life too.  And, best of all, the dense vegetation masks the sights, sounds and pollution from the busy intersection nearby.

Malcolm Street Billabong Reinstatement

  • We are hopeful that the Malcolm Street Billabong Reinstatement Project will gain approval from council to complement the revegetation work described above.
  • Although the project was unsuccessful in gaining funding last year, we are hopeful for next financial year (2014/2015) .   Unfortunately, the funding for the Kalang Park pavilion upgrade work may cause a further delay – even though it is for totally unrelated purposes.
  • A project concept/design has been developed to reinstate diverted storm water to restore the Malcolm Street billabong.  Committee has provided significant input to the design so as to “keep it simple” to lower costs and increase the probability of funds being justified for the work.   Local councillors have shown support for the project.
  • The billabong is just south of creek in central Kalang Park and occasionally holds water for a short time after heavy rain.  It does not behave as it used to due to a combination of the creek’s water level dropping very significantly (due to more drainage going into Gardiner’s Creek as Melbourne’s development burgeoned eastwards) and less water reaching the billabong from the Malcolm Street slope due to street/housing storm water drainage.
  • The concept is to reinstate its normal function by taking a feed from a nearby storm-water pit which would be fitted with the ability to control how much water is diverted (to tune it).   The area holds some good trees – arborists have confirmed the trees will not suffer from the changed conditions.
  • Of course, there’s much to do in addition to construction of the feed from the storm water pit.  The Monday weeders have cleaned up the site and revegetated the area south of the track.  Regvegetaton is also needed on the north of the track to the creek.  There are also two depressons on that side.  These are thought to be man-made but will nevertheless be put to good use.  They will work as overflow ponds regulating the flow to the creek after heavy falls.

Kalang Park Pavilion Upgrade

  • Council has allocated funds in this financial year’s budget for design of the Kalang Park Pavilion Refurbishment and Extension.
  • To date, the Creeklands Committee has not had a great deal of input to this restore-and-extend project.  Direct users of the facility have provided input to the design process.  We will meet with Council shortly to provide our input.

Whitehorse Housing and Neighbourhood Character Review

  • The latest Council documentation confirms that, excepting the western side of Middleborough Road, neighbouring properties are all now defined under Limited Change (to become NRZ).  Also, the Natural Change with Access category has been abandoned. However, “with access” lives on – in that these areas will be zoned GRZ rather than the more protected NRZ in the new scheme even if “Bush Suburban”.
  • Update:  A final community consultation is underway and will run for 4 weeks from 14 February to 14 March, 2014.  Please visit the project website ( http://www.ourhousingfuture.com.au/ ) for more details.

Dead-head your Agies!

  • The photograph shows an Agapanthus growing at the water’s edge in Furness Park (since removed by the Monday Weeders with gusto!):

agapanthus_furness_park

  • On the positive side, Agapanthus is drought resistant and good at stabilizing banks.  On the negative side, it is a prolific and hard-to-eradicate introduced weed.  We’d like all our friends and neighbours to dead-head your Agies once flowering is finished,  so seed does not enter the creek system via storm-water.
  • Alternatively, you might consider replacing them with an indigenous plant of similar habits (eg a species of Dianella or Lomandra).  Please see our Useful Links page for details of the local indigenous plant nurseries who will be able to help you with choices.

Plant of the Month

  • Plant of the Month is the Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).  It has been looking beautiful this year with an unusually prolific display of  white flowers and copes well with hot spells.

bursaria

  • If you look closely at the photo above provided by our Friend Megan, you’ll see that one Bursaria bush in Kalang Park was laden down with something else as well as flowers…

plague soldier beetles

  • They are the colourful Plague Soldier Beetles (Chauliognathus lugubris) and are 10 -15 mm in length.  Of course, the beetles voted rather unsportingly as a block to ensure their favoured plant won the coveted Plant of the Month award.
  • They are found across large parts of Australia.  Adults can be seen from spring to autumn and can appear in very large numbers in mating swarms.  If you have a plant hosting a swarm, don’t be too concerned – following mating, the beetles tend to disperse.
  • Please visit the CSIRO web-site for further information.  Alternatively, the CSIRO and Melbourne Museum have collaborated to produce an interesting book on Melbourne’s fauna and flora if you are interested in more information (suitable for amateurs – this author uses it with grandchildren when something unusual turns up in the garden or park).  Blackburn library reference is:  591.99451 MEL .

Sightings

  • Friend Mark reports that he has seen a Rakali (Native Water Rat) at the junction of the creeks (Gardiners and Blackburn) in Blacks Walk.
  • He says: “Same as the notice board. White tip on the tail. I thought it rather odd that a Rattus rattus [black rat] would dive under the water.”  Note:  Unfortunately, the Noticeboard display has changed since Mark’s report.
  • Mark and several others also report seeing foxes and active dens.
  • There have been many interesting bird sightings:
    • White Ibis at Laurel Grove bridge
    • Buff-banded Rail’s nest in Furness Park
    • Willie Wagtail and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
    • 2 Buff-banded Rails in Kalang Park north of the creek
    • Yellow-throated Miner
    • Eastern Spinebill
    • Bronze-winged Pigeon near Bowling Club.
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