Magical morning at the Merri Edgar wetlands inspires locals not to litter

Project information

  • Name: Addressing Coburg’s pollution hotspot: New Coburg wetlands mobilise litter message
  • Summary: Target the local community with educational messages to address Coburg’s four key litter issues: cigarette butts, illegal dumping, plastic, dog excrement to reduce local and downstream pollution
  • Lead: Merri Creek Management Committee
  • Location: Coburg Wetlands
  • Themes: cleaning up waterways; cigarette butts; illegal dumping; plastic; dog excrement

Sometimes our neighbourhood is home to all kinds of hidden treasures. The locals in Coburg North were delighted to spend a magical morning under the gum trees discovering the recently built Merri Edgar wetland.

This free, family-friendly event was organised by Merri Creek Management Committee as part of a project funded by Sustainability Victoria. Visitors enjoyed a Wurundjeri welcome, dancing with Djirri Djirri, making something out of ‘rubbish’, turning grasses into toys, seeing tiny live water bugs, getting painted-on gum leaves, walking in a butterfly tent, and snacking on free fruit.

“The creek is a beautiful place to visit but it has a practical purpose too,” explained Angela Foley, Special Engagement Programs Coordinator at Merri Creek Management Committee.

“Rain and floods wash a huge volume of litter into Merri Creek taking a trail of plastic debris downstream to Port Phillip Bay. The Wetland was built at the confluence of Edgars and Merri Creeks to treat and improve stormwater before it enters Merri Creek.”

While the wetlands provided the focal point, the project encompassed the four key local litter issues that affect the Yarra and Port Phillip Bay catchment: 

  • high amounts of illegal dumping in Coburg
  • rain and flooding washing litter downstream
  • cigarette butts making up almost half the litter stream
  • the 1.1 tonnes of dog excrement produced every day by Moreland’s 11,082 registered dogs.

Connecting with the community

“The wetlands gave us a tangible way to promote all of these litter issues. We had 820 participants over 33 events including schools, early childhood centres and one rotary group. It was amazing to introduce so many people to this area and talk to them about these litter issues and what they can do to help.”

2 Moreland Rotary Group gathered for a guided walk at the wetlands to think about the pollution connections through the urban environments and waterways of the Merri Creek catchment.

“We also wanted to create a sense of guardianship and pride in this space,” added Angela.

“To help the community understand this ambitious, engineered environmental project and how they can help maintain it. Litter doesn’t just affect our local area. It took time to build the relationships needed to get people out to the wetlands, but it was worth it.”

1 After extensive planning, groups of children from local childcare centres took a trip to the Merri and Edgar Creeks.

They explored concepts like 'uphill' and downhill, they saw and heard birds and running water. They could see first-hand how important it is not to litter.

“We are in the process of installing a signage sculpture designed and created with the Wurundjeri community in the wetlands. That will wrap up our activities planned under this project.”

Next steps

“It is so important to protect our waterways for the future,” added Angela. “We will continue to protect the Merri Creek, particularly from population growth and encroaching development.

“We are planning more creative projects to promote caring for our environmental assets locally in Moreland and downstream, especially waste management from multi-storey development residents and dog walkers.”

More information

Contact Angela Foley, Special Engagement Programs Coordinator at Merri Creek Management Committee on 03 9380 8199 or angela@mcmc.org.au