By Penny Rabarts
Stony Creek runs from St Albans through Brimbank City Council and Maribyrnong City Council lands to its outlet at the Yarra River under the West Gate Bridge. It meanders through industrial areas and picturesque parkland created for picnics and recreation.
Through the work of council and local community group Friends of Stony Creek (FOSC) there are sections with an abundance of native trees planted and regular litter collections.
One of those areas is Cruickshank Park in Yarraville which has a community garden and perfect spots for taking a picnic or walking alongside the creek.
Further up the creek in St Albans a project was undertaken by Brimbank City Council to transform Upper Stony Creek. Halfway through this transformation asbestos was discovered and the $11m plan was put aside, leaving concrete drains, native trees levelled out and disappointed neighbours left without the oasis promised. Local community has not stopped demanding better but Brimbank City Council have become deaf to the issue and found other priorities to focus on with the Calder Freeway and new developments in Taylors Lakes.
In the middle of the length of Stony Creek is a section that emerges after travelling beneath Sunshine out besides Matthews Hill Reserve. It flows between the Maribyrnong City Council and Brimbank City Council border. On the Brimbank side there is parkland, a native grassland, a big section of natives planted by FOSC and a playground. On the Maribyrnong side there is a new development sprouting up which has created additional run off water being diverted to the Matthews Hill entry point.
There is a walking track that follows the edge of the creek which in summer is shaded by a mixture of beautiful gum trees and willow trees. It’s important to note that the willow trees shed their foliage this clogs the creek and starves the creek for anything attempting to live in it. Willow trees are pretty but not a natural part of the creek ecosystem.
It’s a beautiful spot to walk and be on a dry day.
On a wet day, the water flow from Sunshine brings with it everything that gets picked up by the water on the streets of sunshine and carries it into the gutters and down the water inlets.
This consists of mostly plastic bottles, cans, takeaway drink containers, plastic bags, food wrappings, plastic wrappings, and more plastic bottles.
Brimbank City Council have identified their approach to rubbish in Central Sunshine as:
- Litter education programs, such as the recent Clean Up Australia Day,
- Litter compliance and enforcement,
- Litter management services (including street litter bins, street sweeping, manual litter collection and dumped rubbish collection)
- Installation of rain gardens and litter traps in Town Centres, roads and car parks (where feasible) to trap litter, and
- Drain cleaning services
This hasn’t stopped the issue. You only need to head to Stony Creek at Matthews Hill to see where all the rubbish ends up when its not disposed of correctly.
Once that rubbish leaves the streets of Sunshine and makes its journey down through the bowels below resident’s homes it comes to light in the creek and along the creeks edge at Matthews Hill.
At this stage, the water and water’s edge become the responsibility of Melbourne Water.
Melbourne Water will respond to any requests of trees fallen into the creek or issues of rubbish via www.melbournewater.com.au.
Once nature has washed the rubbish off the streets of Sunshine, Brimbank Council have washed their hands of it.
I did reach out to the property managers for Sunshine Marketplace (a large site which creates large volumes of waste) to seek their help and to date have received no response.
Melbourne Water then have a task of managing and working with local groups like FOSC and local councils.
Maribyrnong City Council has a Master Plan for Stony Creek. Brimbank City Council does not have a Master Plan for Stony Creek.
Melbourne Water is in early discussions with Maribyrnong City Council to seek a grant to remove the willow trees along their side of this section of the creek and replace them with native gums. There is no timeline at this stage as funding needs to be secured.
Local residents on community FB groups are disappointed in the space and some no longer go there. This is a diamond area, it just needs some care and cleaning up.
If you are interested in helping with litter collections at this site, please reach out to FOSC via facebook.com/FriendsOfStonyCreek, or as an FOSC member – email email@example.com. Friends of Stony Creek meetings are held the first Monday of every month (February to November) 7:30pm, at the Yarraville Community Centre in Francis Street. Everyone is welcome.