Park News – November, 2015

Melbourne Water Maintenance

  • Melbourne Water’s woody weed removal work on the northern side of the creek between Main Street and the Laurel Grove bridge has been completed.  The main target was some Monterey Pines growing along the bank – there were concerns that the pines would damage the adjacent concrete channel.
  • In a couple of spots, the woody weed removals have created rather a blank canvas – an excellent  revegetation opportunity.  Here’s a shot of a pair of  Pacific Black ducks somewhat “stumped” by the change to their territory:


  • The revegetation work will be need to be done by Council or Melbourne Water due to safety issues with the steep creek bank there – not by a community Working Bee…

Council Works

  • Council’s path reinstatement works have been completed including the Castella topping treatment at the bottom of Gardenia Street and the diversions in Blacks Walk. The old paths in Blacks Walk are still to be torn up (planned date unknown).
  • Main Street Bridge – there has been no update on replacement of the railings. Adjacent beds have recently been mulched by Council.
  • The Kalang Pavilion is nearing completion and the Landscape Plan for the area has been posted on the fence for comment.
  • In our corridor nearby, an upgrade is planned for the Middleborough Road cyclists’ shared path along R H L Sparks Reserve. We are working with the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society to limit the loss of trees to the essential only.

Working Bee Report (Sunday 8th November)

  • Our community Working Bee on Sunday, 8th November 09:00-12:00 in Blacks Walk was a resounding success with several beds in Blacks Walk gaining much needed moisture and weed protection ahead of what promises to be a long, hot summer.
  • As planned, we finished off mulching the beds adjacent to the Laburnum Primary School fence and behind the Scout Hall – Council having provided mulch for the latter area just in time.  Here’s a picture of the action behind the Scout Hall:

mulching bee

  • Most of us got a sorely(!) needed pre-Christmas workout too – notice that the only people without noses down to the grindstone are the pair pushing barrows – they needed to see where they were going!
  • With this event, the community working bee program for 2015 has completed.  As a community, we can be very proud of the major improvements to the park we’ve made this year.  We are pleased too that Council has acknowledged our efforts in a very real way.  Committee sincerely thanks all who participated and we do hope to work with you again next year – commencing with the planting season in May.
  • To trial whether Saturday working bees facilitate others to attend, our first working bee for 2016 will be Saturday 14/5/2016. We’re planning to have six working bees from May onwards.

60 Main Street Development

southern elevation

60 Main Street – View from the Creeklands

  • The next VCAT hearing for 60 Main St is to be 10AM Monday, 14/12/2015 for one day.
  • Council and six objectors including Friends, the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society and Blackburn Village Residents Group will oppose the Applicant.

New Planning Zones Protect Our Park Better

  • Whitehorse Planning Amendment C174 has finally taken effect – from 12th November, 2015.  Schedules 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone have now been introduced into the Whitehorse Planning Scheme at last.

parks and zones

  • This means our park, also Blackburn Lake Sanctuary, McCubbin Park ( 1 Lake Road), and Jamieson Reserve (Below the Lake) too, are all surrounded by housing in the NRZ1 or NRZ3 zones. This affords our parks better protection against new unwelcome developments such as that proposed for 60 Main Street.
  • Please see click here for further information.

Help !

  • Occasionally, people somehow seem to drop off our e-mail lists or might need to advise changes eg due to selecting a new e-mail or Internet provider.
  • If you have any similar problems or requests, please don’t hesitate to use our Contacts page for electronic, phone or mail contact with us.

Far Flung Friend – Bernie from Mali Dunes

  • Our latest Far Flung Friend is Bernie from Mali Dunes.  No – not from the Sahara desert in west Africa, but west Victoria  – between the Little and Big Deserts and near the SA border not far from Nhill – a former 600 ha sheep property, now a  sanctuary, that Bernie and his partner Sue are restoring.  They are particularly interested in providing good habitat for Malleefowl and nurture, harvest and sell indigenous plant seed for restoration projects like theirs.
  • Their house is a Terradome of reinforced concrete nestling into a sandy hill in their semi-desert country:


  • To this author, Malleefowl look like a petite version of the Brush Turkeys many people would have seen up north – but with far better camouflage:


  • So why his interest in the Creeklands? – Bernie says:

I lived in Box Hill from age of six and the Lake and the creeks were regular bike-riding explorations. Bought my first ‘real’ bike from Rob’s Cycles next to the Blackburn rail-gates.  When married, moved to Blackburn and then Forest Hill. Kids went to St Thomas’.  My dad was Station Master at Blackburn.  The Lake was always a great place for the kids and offered me ‘quiet time’. Met lots of the local environmental leaders who, partly, shaped my thinking. Ended up having a stint on VNPA [Victorian National Parks Association] Council and have always been strong supporter of ‘Friends of’ groups.

  • Actually, his family connections with the area go way back to the 1850s – his maternal great-grandfather was Patrick E Trainor who was the original owner of the White Horse Hotel formerly on the corner of Elgar and Whitehorse Roads, Box Hill.   The name of the hotel lent its name to Whitehorse Road and our municipality (City of Whitehorse).
  • Bernie also sends a regular e-mail bulletin for the Victorian Environment Friends Network.  This covers environmental events throughout the state including some of ours as well as the VEFN newsletter.  If you are interested in the latter, please e-mail Bernie at .

Plant of the Month

  • Plant of the MonthBidgee-widgee – Acaena novae-zelandiae.  Bidgee-widgee is a low growing and rambling perennial herb (up to 20 cm tall) which forms dense mats covering the ground – suppressing weeds and protecting creek banks.


  • It has long leaves at the base of erect stems carrying dense, globular clusters of greenish cream flowers which become large spiny reddish-brown spherical burrs (about 1.0-1.5cm diameter).
  • The latter forms the downside of this plant – the burrs readily attach to dog fur (and socks, elastic sides of boots, weeding gloves etc).  The burrs seem omnipresent now – creating another very good reason to keep your dog on lead and on the paths! They seem to “explode” into dog fur particularly – creating a tedious removal task for their owners.
  • Because of these issues, this is not a plant we actively plant out in the park. Nevertheless, it does regenerate easily and often grows near paths in the park because it is spread by animals and people.  It also provides a good seed source for birds like Rosellas.

Weed of the Month

  • Weed family of the Month: Plantains– Plantago sp.  Plantago is a family of about 200 species of smaller, less conspicuous plants commonly called plantains or fleaworts.  We hasten to add that these plantains are not closely related to the plantain banana!
  • Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is a common weed of cultivated or disturbed land – common in lawns. The plant is a perennial herb, with leafless, hairy flower stems (standing 10–40 cm high). The basal leaves have 3-5 strong parallel veins (“ribs”).   This photo shows an example in Kalang Park:


  • Broadleaf or greater plantain (Plantago major) has a similar structure – this plant also is a rosette-forming perennial herb, with leafless, silky, hairy flower stems (10–40 cm):

broadleaf plantain

  • Both plants traditionally are held to have medicinal properties.


Meadow Argus butterfly (courtesy Ian Moodie)

Meadow Argus butterfly (courtesy Ian Moodie)

  • The Noticeboard display has recently changed over to feature a display of our butterflies. Take a look on the creek side of the Noticeboard when you get a chance!
  • Friend Andrea tells us that the Meadow Argus’s caterpillars aren’t fussy and will feed on a wide variety of plants, including weeds – especially plantains (see the well-chewed on the broadleaf  plantain leaf above).  Consequently, the butterfly is common in urban areas.


  • Normally, we talk about bird sightings in this section – in this issue, we’ll mix it around somewhat!
  • The Christmas display in Taylor&Francis’ window in the Laburnum Village was installed on 1st November (!).  Perhaps the botanical world has taken a cue from our local retail world – we have noticed Christmas Bushes flowering very early this year – starting in late October!

christmas in October

There have been several other very interesting sightings in the park:

Firstly, a rakali !

  • A rakali (Hydromys chrysogaster), also commonly known as a water-rat, is a largish (23-37cm) indigenous rodent which lives in burrows on the banks of creeks, rivers, lakes etc.  It feeds on aquatic insects, fish (hopefully the carp! [see carp sightings here]), yabbies, snails, frogs, plant material, birds’ eggs etc.
  • We’ve had reports before [January, 2014] – but this time Friend Robin was quick with his camera to produce proof:


  • It looks like a cross between a large rat and a ringtail possum.   It has partially webbed hind legs, waterproof fur, a flattened head, a long blunt snub-nose, a thick furry tail with a white tip, small ears and eyes.

Secondly, a kangaroo (no, not someone dressed up in a suit – an actual kangaroo)!

  • This incredible sighting last Friday was reported independently by Friends Pennie with Alison, Roger and Sid.   Sid has proof positive with this photo from Furness Park:

kangaroo - Furness Park

  • It is very intriguing as to where it came from or where it went next.   We did hear from someone who said he saw the kangaroo coming across the Furness bridge!  Perhaps the kangaroo caught the bus to the Creeklands?  He also said others who saw it in the park rang the RSPCA.  We haven’t heard what happened next though…  If anyone knows more, please let us know…

Thirdly, not a Christmas Beetle!

  • This beetle (2-3cm long), snapped just near the Furness bridge (which seems to be a great spot for sightings these days) is probably either a Golden Stag (Lamprima aurata) or Golden Green Stag Beetle (Lamprima latreillii) – unfortunately, to get to the species level with beetles typically requires a microscope – sadly, unavailable to our reporter at the time.
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