Thursday, May 5, 2011

Merri Creek Trail, 30th April, 2011

On a perfect late Autumn Day, eight Walkabouters met at Westfield Reserve near the confluence of the Merri Creek and Yarra River. We initially followed Merri Creek down stream...

 ...making sure to steer clear of danger...

 ....while taking in the local flora.....

...and fauna.

The Merri Creek's head waters emerge from the hills of the Great Dividing Range approximately 70 kms north of Melbourne near Heathcote Junction.

It  flows through Melbourne's northern suburbs and into the Yarra River at Dights Falls in Collingwood.

Not far from the confluence with the Yarra River, we crossed over the Creek and headed upstream.

Many years of agriculture and urbanisation has resulted in the loss of much of the original flora and fauna along the Creek. Local community groups and councils are working together to restore the Creek's natural habitat networks. The Friends of the Merri Creek organise working bees for weed removal and riparian planting days.

The park lands bordering the Creek have a range of recreational uses and users.

We headed north following Merri Creek through the suburbs of Melbourne,

under bridges....

...and over bridges,

through the gorges created by the flow of water,

all the while enjoying the dappled Autumn light filtering through the leaves on the trees that overhung our route.

Merri Creek has a number of tributary rivers including the Edgars, Merlynston, Central, Curly Sedge, Aitken and Malcolm Creeks.

Over 600 million years ago the Merri Creek basin was covered by the sea. The receding ocean left behind a layer of yellowish marine siltstone and sandstone rocks.

Then around 65 million years ago a sandy layer of non-marine sediments was left behind. 

The ancient valley of the Merri Creek develop over time as the flow of water eroded through these sedimentary layers.

From 4.6 million years ago to as recently as 800,000 years ago, volcanoes such as Hayes Hill (about 5km east of Donnybrook) and Mt Fraser (near Beveridge) erupted, sending lava on an epic journey along the ancestral valleys of the Merri and Darebin Creeks and into the valley of the Yarra River as far as the CBD of Melbourne. (Source:

Since these lava flows, the Merri Creek has continued to flow, slowly eroding through the many layers that were built up over such a long time. South of Rushall Station, we could see the geological layers of the exposed cliffs from many years of water erosion.

As we continued following the trail, we walked under more bridges.

This bridge reminded us that we were walking through the ancestral lands of 
the Wurundjeri-willam people.

The words on the bridge welcome us to Wurundjeri-willam country which now contains Melbourne's expanding northern suburbs.

  These peoples' name comes from their word wurrun, which means ‘white gum tree’. The Wurundjeri-willam was a clan made up of a number of extended families. 

During the first years of contact with early European setters, the Wurundjeri-willam people
lived on the northern bank of the Yarra and their territory extended from Yarra Bend northwards along the “Merri Merri” or “very rocky” creek."

There were lovely views along our path that were reminiscent of more exotic lands,

 and interesting contraptions that have been erected to deal with rubbish that collects in the waterways.

To see how this contraption works read the following sign for operating times and visit Victoria Street for a demonstration.

During the 1800's and much of the 1900's the banks of the Merri Creek were dotted with numerous quarries mining the basalt rock deposited all those years ago by the many volcanic lava flows.

Below is the remnants of a winch that was used to pull up basalt from the quarry below.
This winch was left behind from The Albion Quarry, which once occupied this site. The quarry was filled in by 'Whelan the Wrecker' in the 1970's and is now a park used by many local residents. 

Much of the basalt or blue stone, was used to make many of the buildings, cobbled streets and bridges around Melbourne,

like this one with the decorative light on top.
Much of Melbourne's bluestone now comes from quarries around Portland.

Lunch was enjoyed in the sunshine under tall trees growing outside the entrance to CERES.

CERES, is a not-for-profit environment and education centre and urban farm.
It was built on wasteland that was used a tip, it is now thriving community that include an Organic Farm, Market, Shop, Co-ops and Café and a Permaculture and Bushfood Nursery.

It is also home to community groups such as the Bike Shed, Community Gardens and the Chook Group. Today we just used their toilet facilities and decided to come back another day to explore this interesting and vibrant park.

We retraced our steps downstream which gave us a chance to see the views we missed out on the way up.

The above photo shows just how much debris was brought downstream in the recent floods.

This pictograph is imprinted along the footpaths to remind walkers and cyclist that they are sharing the paths with the local wildlife.

Fortunately, we didn't see any real ones.

 There were some wonderful large, old gum trees along our route that have survived the urban takeover.

We walked back under the bridges...

...lots of bricks went into making this one.

The sign on the left reads "Take care, Echidna lives here"

We didn't see the echidna, but we may have seen the tail of a platypus.

See the splash in the foreground, that wasn't a duck. There have been confirmed sightings of a platypus in Merri Creek, so whatever made that splash, it could have been a platypus.

We finished out walk back at the Westfield Reserve and then wandered down to the
Fairfield Boat House,

 and enjoyed the views of the Yarra River with yet another bridge,

and shared a plate full of scones, jam and cream to top off a perfect Autumn's day walk.

Walkabouters Club of Victoria Inc.


  1. A fantastic post - the photographs and comments really illustrate how lucky us Melbournians are with our network of paths along the waterways of our city and suburbs.

  2. Yes, I love living in Melbourne. There are so many aspects of our city to explore. I really enjoyed the walk on such a perfect day.

  3. Yes - It was a lovely walk and the perfect day was finished off in a perfect way..with a plate full of scones ;-)

  4. we are fortunate to have such good leaders for our walks. Always a nice surprise and good company!

  5. I will visit Melbourne in September and your pics and stories gave information that I am looking for about Merri Creek Trail. I look forward to be there!

  6. Hello Small Hiker. I am glad you found this post informative. Hope you enjoy your visit to Melbourne in September!


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