Several years ago, Marika Ley and her husband set up the ‘Friends of the Werribee River through Bacchus Marsh’. The group has grown exponentially, with 40 active members.
What’s your connection to Moorabool?
We’ve lived in Bacchus Marsh since the end of 1994, so that’s over 20 years. The rural environment appealed to us.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Moorabool?
The sense of community and its connection to nature. At the back of our doorstep, we’ve got a beautiful river, bushlands, national parks and a sense of open space.
What would you change about the area if you could?
We are trying to change the weedy areas, by removing a lot of the non-native weeds and thistles and replacing them with native and indigenous flora. [This] attracts people to the area and makes them appreciate their environment, but it also attracts local wildlife – we’ve got wallabies, echidnas, platypus.
Where’s your favourite place to hang out in Moorabool?
Apart from wandering along the river, you’ll find me at Baby Black. It’s got that cozy courtyard – it’s basically my second home.
Can you tell us a little about the Friends of the Werribee River through Bacchus Marsh?
We’re a group of 40 active members and we hold up to five working bees a year during the cooler months. We have specific sites along the river where we plant, and we also maintain them.
My husband and I were single-handedly trying to prevent the weed from obstructing [walking] tracks. One of the local landcare members approached us to see if we wanted to start up a group to have other like-minded people to help out.
It’s been really good … Melbourne Water and Moorabool shire have been very supportive now.
What are some of your major achievements?
I think our major achievement now is being able to look back and see that a lot of our plants are very well established. They’re preventing weeds from revegetating in the area, and have increased the number of people enjoying the tracks and paths. We rely on volunteers so we often advertise through posters.
How important is it for locals to take care of the Werribee River?
Our waterways are very important as far as cleanliness for the flora and fauna, and also for aesthetic reasons … but a few years ago, every day from October for a month or two we would see a platypus. It’s become a rare sighting now – maybe once a year.
Do you have any concerns about the future of the river?
There’s all the ongoing concerns about oil spills, contamination and pollution risks … at the recent Clean Up Australia Day, we bagged 20 large bags of rubbish.
Friends of the Werribee River through Bacchus Marsh will hold its first planting day for the year on Sunday, April 2 from 9.30am-12.30pm at Harry’s Hole, Meikle Street. The next one will be held on Sunday, April 30 at Boyes Close footbridge. For more information, search Friends of Werribee River through Bacchus Marsh on Facebook.