Friends of Back Creek (FOBC) - Annual General Meeting

Presidents Statement 13 April 2010 

The 2009 year was one in which much of FOBC’s activities were put on hold pending decisions being made by Melbourne Water and their Waterways Alliance regarding capital works being performed along the creek. Despite their tooing and froing progress continued to be made in improving the creek amenity and creating lasting commitment to its ongoing rehabilitation. 

The membership of core supporters of our group remained stable while community participation in our main activities was also strong. FOBC Committee Members while remaining committed to the process of improving the creek have resolved to adopt a less physically active role and instead focus more on managing and supervising activities conducted along the creek. 

While FOBC’s financial position is stable and capable of fulfilling its planned activities pursuing ongoing funding will depend largely on the extent to which Melbourne Water and to a lesser extent Council choose to invest in the final stages of the creeks rehabilitation. Much of the easy work has been done and now the focus rests on Melbourne Water talking the too hard basket middle section of the creek. The terrain in this section is narrow in some parts steep and not easily accessible by people or equipment. Until significant clearing of willows and fallen debris is conducted, FOBC will have little opportunity to be involved in the creeks rehabilitation other than supporting on the fringes. 

During the past 12 months FOBC published 2 newsletters maintaining a distribution of 500 households. We conducted 11 working bees involving over 350 volunteers. Total contribution of participant time exceeded 700 hours of work.  Wattle Park Primary School participated in Schools tree day planting of over 1200 seedlings involving over 180 students and teachers in two planting sessions on 31 July. The plantings were conducted along the walkway south of Cornell St next to last years plantings. This has enabled the school children to view the progress made in the growth of plantings they did in the previous year. Council is now preparing ground on the other side of the pathway for planting by the children later this year. Over the next 5 – 10 years the section of barrel drained creek leading to Linden park will become a truly green corridor containing diverse native plantings.  

In February & March 2009 Melbourne Water completed the first stage of what was to be a 4 stage plan of willow removal and creek rehabilitation. This stage was conducted around the Quinton Rd bend of the creek and involved extensive willow removal and laying of rocks along the creek. While at present the rocks create a dominating vista effectively draining what water that may flow down the creek it is pleasing to see the extra sunlight exposure has created opportunity for the native plantings to grow. In particular the indigenous slender knotweed which was once remnant is now flourishing and its growth and spread has started to soften the impact of the rock work. It is not hard to imagine the rocks will be substantially covered by this growth in the next few years. 

Stages 2-4 of the original plan appear to have been shelved largely due to lack of funding. Consultation by FOBC with Council and Melbourne Water has continued over the past 9 months and it appears that while works conducted will be less ambitious than originally planned progressive selective removal of willows will continue over the next few years. This will provide further opportunities for FOBC and the community to be involved. The relationship and communication between the community and local authorities has improved and the prospects for improving the creek habitat appear good. 

Clean-up Australia day remains an important part of FOBC calendar of activities although early this year the onset of heavy rain resulted in rubbish being washed downstream before it could be picked up. 15 bags full of rubbish were still collected. 

FOBC’s subsidiary group operating south of Toorak Road in Glen Iris continue to make significant progress with substantial planting done along the upper slopes. Heavy rains and flkooding have become a problem with the pathways requiring constant maintenance. Albert Toet has been doing a great job keeping the momentum for activity going. 

The 2010 year ahead: 

FOBC will be more low key this year with much of our focus centering around National tree day and Schools tree day activities. Monthly working bees will concentrate more on maintenance activities with some limited planting along available slopes along the creek.  

Melbourne Water has made a start on willow removal this year but it is unknown the extent to which work will continue. Until the dust or more accurately mud settles FOBC will keep away from the creek bed. 

We aim to do the following: 

Thanks again to our local Councilor Heinz Kreutz, our local member for Burwood Bob Stensholt, the Parks and Gardens department of the City of Boroondara, in particular Janyce McMurtrie and Adrian Hotchin continue to support our group with advice labour and other resources when required. Thanks also to Melbourne Water for their understanding and listening to our views regarding the creek.  

Finally thanks to our committed committee members Chris Walta, John Cott,  Jim Breen,  Eleanor Stephenson, Bob Strickland, Barry Gallacher and Albert Toet (FOBCS) 

Robert Brierley

13 April 2009