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Friends of Stony Creek

Stony Creek arises in Braybrook (Melway 41 A3) and flows through parkland, industrial and residential areas of Tottenham and West Footscray then into Cruickshank Park, Yarraville and on to the Backwash at the West Gate Bridge. Near its source is Matthews Hill, which Brimbank Council manages as remnant grassland.

In May 1993 Greening Footscray became Friends of Stony Creek and has worked ever since to restore the native vegetation along the creek, often on land that was formerly quarried and is now kept as open space. The group currently has around 40 members. Activities include monthly meetings, weeding days and water monitoring and about five major planting days each year.

Most of our work is at the Hyde St Reserve in Yarraville but we also have plantings further upstream. In 2003 a fire cleared the weeds from a slope between Cala Street and Paramount Road, West Footscray. We moved in and planted while the going was good. Some of our plants there are still thriving, albeit among abundant weeds.

We have planted more trees than would probably have been there when Batman landed, including Allocasuarina verticillata, Acacia spp, Eucalyptus spp, and Kangaroo Apple – plants which aren't harmed by rabbits once well grown. Maintaining grassland takes a good deal of effort. Near Hyde Street we have a rabbit-proof enclosed area for grasses and forbs where we have put in considerable effort in recent years. Unfortunately that area was burnt in 2006 and became a fence around scorched earth. The dianellas were the first natives to come back. The Kangaroo Apples went berserk but the drought has stressed them.

Fire and rabbits are not our only problems. Just upstream of Paramount Road, Tottenham was a patch of Yellow Rush-lilies until a construction firm dumped its rubble there and the remnant native vegetation disappeared. There have also been numerous pollution events which have affected the creek over the years.

We work with Maribyrnong City Council, although we have not always seen eye to eye. Generally they provide some plants and prepare some of our planting sites while we provide local knowledge, hands on work and have input into open space planning.

We have good working relationships with others in our community. Mobil donated a motorized hole digger for planting. Melbourne Water has provided a Waterwatch kit which we and the Friends of Cruickshank Park use to monitor water quality. Students from Victoria University (Horticulture) and Caroline Chisholm College have undertaken several plantings. Each year we do a planting with Parks Victoria in the Backwash State Park and another at Matthews Hill Reserve with Brimbank Council. Some of our work has been funded by pollution fines imposed by the EPA. This year our focus will be planting 2000 trees for GreenFleet.

Our first planting day for 2009 will be on Sunday 24 May 12-2pm at Hyde St Reserve, Yarraville (Melway 42 B11).
Contact: President Steve Wilson, ph 9332 3889, email stony_au@yahoo.com  
or Secretary Melanie Guile: email melanieguile@iinet.net.au

Article by Vernon Terrill