Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Great progress restoring Sandy Creek

Sunday in late June, residents of Sandy Creek (many of them members of Riddells Creek Landcare) walked their way from the start of the creek, near the Blairs, to close to where it joins Riddells Creek. We had done a similar walk 5 years ago, and wanted to look at how the condition of the creek had improved.

We have all been involved in Melbourne Water's the Stream Frontage Program, which provides funding to get rid of weeds and plant native vegetation, though the stream sides often have plenty of seed and small plants hiding under the weeds (blackberry and gorse) that come back when spraying knocks these off.

What a change! The Red Hot Pokers on the Blairs need another round of discouragement, as do the blackberries on Vicki's place, next along the creek. But the Best's place is a delight, and the section from Ross's to Stig's has seen a big change as the blackberry dies back.

The creek keeps changing as we walk down it - the next section through to Lachlan and Suze's has a bedrock bottom, high sides, Prickly Moses Acacia verticillata  doing well, but also many sweet pittostrum.

From there we jumped to Helen's place, well out into the lower slopes, where there's a grand canyon formed only in the last 80 years. Water running fast off the cleared country has eroded the creek, but Dean reckons its stablised now.

Just a little further on, at the Godfrey's place, the creek is back to small banks. Robin Godfrey sent in this photo of this section in the 2010 floods.

Here are grabs from Dean Platt's notes:

Lachie and I found some interesting plants along the way – Gahnia radula Thatch Saw Sedge along the Nicolaides-Best frontage and what may have been Dianella tasmanica nearby to this as well.

Although there was little water in the creek, some ponds supported aquatics – I would like to get back and have another look and Russell will be able to clarify with me, but maybe there was Callitriche near the start of Best u.stream end.  I need to correct that the attractive water lily at Russell and Gill’s is actually the Cape Pond Lily Aponogeton distachyos (South African) and is a problem in parts of waterways around the Melbourne area.  So it is one to watch out for lest it becomes completely dominant.  I think the ephemeralness of the Sandy may hold it back a bit. 

It was good to see the Blackberry clearance along the way, long sections have now been cleared.  Excellent and quite probably contributing to the wombat spread into the creek now.  Logic would say that if the wombats have moved into the creek from the forests of the range above then either the habitat is now improved along the Sandy or the habitat has been degraded in the range forests.  I don’t think the latter is true so it is likely that the Sandy has improved and Blackberry removal has been a major change there.  Well done.  Remember there is a local native raspberry growing well in sections as well, hopefully it can spread now.   

We didn't make it all the way to the junction of Sandy Creek with Riddells Creek. Dean says it has "rugged volcanic steps with remnant manna gums above blackberry." Here's a photo, and this will be an adventure for another time.

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