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Celebrating 50 Years

On 30 September 2018, a Jubilee celebration was held at Alvie Hall by the Friends of Damper Creek Reserve, attended by over 100 guests, including Councillors and Council staff (past and present), special guests being Mr Tony Brindley and his wife, Melbourne Water representative Mr Nathan Mattinson. The occasion was partially funded through a grant from the Monash Council together with the Friends of Damper Creek, to provide a lunch in honour of the guests and the occasion. As part of the celebration, a plaque was unveiled marking the 50 years since the “saving” of Damper Creek and the work of DCCD and the Friends over all those years.

 

Highlights 2010 -2018

In 2010, a large litter trap (supplementing an older less effective trap) was installed by Monash Council in the storm water pipe at the northern end of the creek. This trap has helped reduce litter swept into the creek by run-off from the surrounding streets. Unfortunately, a number of other smaller storm unfiltered water drains feed into the creek contributing to an ongoing litter problem.

In 2014 Melbourne Water installed a newly designed “fence” over the creek at the shared boundary of Damper Creek Reserve with Riversdale Golf Course. The new “fence” is made up of well-spaced horizontal bars replacing the former unsatisfactory barrier. The former barrier failed due to excessive buildup of debris at that point which resulted in the backyards of neighbouring Yatama Court properties being partially inundated during torrential downpours.

In June 2015, Monash Council commenced work on creating a small ephemeral Wetland and Boardwalk crossing at the south end of the Reserve near the Park Road playground. Alongside significant plantings and signage, this has made an attractive southern entrance to the Reserve.

May 2018, a Community Planting Day was held to plant out the Park Road nature strips with indigenous tube stock, in preparation for the Friends of Damper Creek Conservation Reserve Jubilee celebration, and as a demonstration of what can be achieved with nature strip planting.

Celebrating 40 years

In 2008 the annual End of Year Barbeque incorporated the 40 years celebration (26/9/1968 – 26/9/2008) of the saving of the Damper Creek and surrounding bushland. The event was well attended by many residents, current and past members including many original committee members of the Damper Creek Conservation and Development Group. A plaque was unveiled on “Mushroom Rock” near the Alice Street (Palma’s Plummet) bridge to mark the occasion.

In 2009/2010, and later years, further creek rock work by Melbourne Water was undertaken in Damper Creek East (including desilting) to attempt to slow the water flow during torrential rain events to prevent scouring of the creek bed and subsequent erosion. This work has met with limited success.

Over recent years, desilting of the main ponds (located in the main arm of Damper Creek itself) has been carried by the Monash Council and the build up of silt in these locations is reviewed for further action from time to time. Silt build-up caused by erosion is a continual problem in both arms of the creek

Creek bed and Bank Restoration

The proposed project attracted much initial comment and discussion. Melbourne Water, the authority responsible for the creek bed from the Bengal Crescent tributary southwards, was supportive and in 1993 it was agreed that Stage 1 be constructed to demonstrate the method and assess the results following high flow rates from winter rains. The creek bed and bank restoration works were undertaken by “Wetland and Wildlife Creations” otherwise known as the “Two Tonys” (Tony Brindley and Tony Della Rosa) who submitted the successful tender for all stages except Stage 4 (wetlands). Stage 2 was undertaken in 1994, while Stage 3 was undertaken in 1995.

Unfortunately, under the then new compulsory competitive tendering process, Monash Council was compelled to accept the lowest tender for Stage 4. This was a decision which was later regretted as the Wetland dam walls failed and after several attempts by the then contractor to remedy the problem Council withheld final payment and the contractor walked away. At the beginning of 2000 the “Two Tonys” were employed to repair the dam walls. This was successfully undertaken.

The honeycomb basalt rockwork in Damper Creek is not indigenous to the area and was sourced from the Victorian Western District. Some other basalt (25%) was sourced from the north of Melbourne. Claystone is the indigenous rock hence the historical brickmaking in the area. The large and flat basalt stones (called “floaters”) were carefully positioned and interlocked into layers to provide strength and preclude the rushing waters from eroding the earth behind the rocks. During construction of the main sewer in the 1970s some large granite rocks were placed in the creek and these were carefully repositioned and integrated with the basalt rock work. The “waterfalls” seen in various places along the creek are not natural and were carefully constructed to slow down the flow and provide some turbulence to aerate the water.

The restoration work continued on later with in another four stages, being the area on the corner of Park Road and High Street Road, Damper Creek East (including the area alongside the Mt Waverley Bowling Club, and the area from Alvie Road to the fence line of the Riversdale Golf Course,) and Bellbird corner. The project was completed with Stage 8 which terminates at the Riversdale Golf Course boundary.

In 2003/4 further restoration work was commenced in Bellbird Corner (Corner High Street Road and Stephensons Road Mt Waverley) by Monash Council. These works were undertaken by the Council with outside contractors without the participation of Melbourne Water which had no funding available for the project at the time. In 2005, when funding became available, Melbourne Water engaged contractors to rebuild the base of the two arms of the East Branch of Damper Creek (between Stephensons Road and High Street Road). Many tons of rocks were dropped into the deep creek bed at that location but they gradually sank into the clay base. High flow rates in this area of the creek illustrate how erosion eventually causes severe problems.

Creek Restoration Project

Following an invitation to residents (from the City of Waverley (letter dated 4 May 1993), to form a Friends of Damper Creek Reserve, a meeting was held on 14 May 1993 at 7pm in Alvie Hall, Cnr. Alvie Road and High St Rd Mt Waverley.

The Council had announced it planned to commence maintenance work in Damper Creek Reserve, and were seeking assistance from the community. A restoration program was to be partially funded by the Waverley Council and the Board of Works and this proposal was strongly supported by the residents.

After this public meeting the following were elected to the executive of the Friends of Damper Creek Reserve Committee: Chairman Mr Barry Hunter, Vice Chairman, Mr Frank Palma, Secretary, Mr Kevin Ryland, Treasurer Mr Len Waters.

The Council began the major engineering component to stabilise and reconstruct the creek bed and banks, while the Friends successfully applied to Melbourne Parks and Waterways (now Parks Victoria) for funding of plants.

Later work by the Friends to improve the Reserve has included: planting, general clean ups and weeding; construction of the middle bridge (known informally as Palma’s Plummet or the Alice Street Bridge); the boardwalk over the Bengal Crescent tributary; the Park Road noticeboard, erosion control sleepers; bench seats; temporary fencing and assistance with the main ponds.

From its inception, the Friends of Damper Creek Reserve have worked closely with the Monash Council in the planting and weeding of the Reserve. Of recent times Community Planting Days, (funded by Melbourne Water project grants and with Bushcrew assistance from the Monash City Council) and monthly working bees have been held each year. Over the years the Friends have successfully applied for over $130,000 in grants for indigenous tube stock plants, (mostly from Melbourne Water but in the early days from Parks Victoria and other contributors). Together with Monash Council this has enabled a large-scale replanting and maintenance of the Reserve.

The creek restoration project initially comprised four stages:

Stage 1 from the Alice Street bridge (Palma’s Plummet) to the Tarella bridge;

Stage 2 Tarella Bridge to Stephensons Road;

Stage 3 Alice Street bridge south 250 metres;

Stage 4 Wetlands(main ponds) South to Park Road)

Saving the bushland by Damper Creek Conservation & Development Group

In 1968, Damper Creek and the surrounding bushland were saved from being barrel drained, road construction and residential subdivision.

A meeting was called for residents to attend on Thursday 26 September 1968 at 1 Oak Court, Mt Waverley.

This invitation to residents to attend the meeting in regard to the rezoning of the land**, stated:

“the alarming news that residents in the area will be deprived of natural bushland and recreational parkland. Perhaps you too have been frightened with the news…that Sunhill Road and Alice Street will join Swayfield Road to make way for through traffic between High Street Road and Highbury Road.” The invitation added “that children resident in these areas have become accustomed to the present conditions of traffic. They together with children attending the Waverley North State School (now the Junior campus of Mt Waverley Secondary School) use the roads and the footpaths”.

(**This parcel of land was privately owned with the remainder owned by Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works and Waverley Council.)

As a result of this meeting, local residents created the “Damper Creek Conservation and Development Group” (DCCDG) (1968 – 1972) and mounted a campaign against the proposed subdivision of the land and also the proposed linking of Sunhill and Swayfield Roads. Amongst the group members were Barry Counsel, Peter Davies, Frank Leahy, Len Nicholson, Gavin Nisbet, Terry O’Brien, John Ross, Lawrie Ryan, Kevin Ryland, and Cr John Taylor.

Office holders elected were: Chairman Mr. B Counsel, Deputy Chairman, Mr Kevin Ryland, Secretary, Dr Terry O’Brien and Treasurer, Mr Gavin Nisbet. Other committee members are Messrs G. Allen, R. Ellis, R. Main, R. Merry, and R. York. Donations to assist the group and its works were received from approximately fifty other residents.

The nucleus of that group consisted of members of the Sunhill Social Golf Club which was formed in 1965 – (the tradition in Sunhill Road of welcoming neighbours still carries on with an Annual Street Breakfast, and as the years have gone by, with new residents joining in).

Ultimately the dogged perseverance of DCCDGroup was successful and the development proposals were abandoned. Council negotiated a land deal that enabled Damper Creek Reserve to be created as a public bushland reserve.

In the 1960s, urban development surrounded the Damper Creek “drain” and the area was infested with blackberries, ivy and many other noxious weeds. Willow tree roots damaged the creek bed and the banks were eroded by the ever-increasing volume of stormwater. The area was often used as a dump for the local residents’ garden refuse.

As a result of the work of the Damper Creek Conservation and Development group, and with the assistance of Peter Davies (a town planner who was a member of the DCCDGroup and later was to become a Waverley/Monash Councillor and also the Mayor), a plan for the restoration of the creek including wetland ponds and bushland was developed. This plan was to form the basis for discussion for the creek restoration project undertaken in the 1990’s.

Without the efforts of this conservation group, Damper Creek Reserve would not be the precious native bushland retreat that it now today: a vital flora and fauna reserve, with delightful walking trails that attract visitors from near and far.

In the 1970s the Council proposed the construction of a toilet block within the Reserve but was strongly opposed by local residents. A blue stone toilet block was eventually constructed in Park Road near the corner of High Street Road but was later removed by the Council because of damage and ongoing nefarious activities.