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Reflections on the Merri Creek Women’s Walk Virtual Launch

It was a beautiful warm and sunny afternoon as Amanda Hazell (VIC President) and I headed down to Merri Creek for the launch of the online trail map of the Merri Creek Women’s Walk on 17 October 2021, during National Water Week.

The Women’s Walk was created in response to the assault of a woman who was running along the creek trail in 2019, and aims to help in efforts to reclaim the waterway as a safe space. Further, the event aims to support and encourage efforts to improve the health of the waterway and riparian zone.

Our branch has been working with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and the community to establish a virtual trail along Merri Creek, which features the stories of women who have helped shape the waterway.

Having worked on the Merri Creek Women’s Walk project during the past 18 months, mostly during lockdown, we had hoped that COVID restrictions would allow us to have an in-person launch event, but it was not to be. Instead, we had a combination of individuals and groups of two (in line with COVID restrictions) dotted along the Merri Creek giving live and online presentations, with the majority of attendees tuning in virtually. This combination gave us all a fabulous feeling of connection which many Melbournians were craving in the last weeks of lockdown.

We were privileged to have a Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Di Kerr, who also told stories of her family’s food gathering practices along the Merri Merri. We also heard presentations from four women featured on the Walk. The husband of the fifth woman featured on the Walk provided a moving tribute to her life.

We heard of the amazing work in restoring and reinvigorating Merri Creek and its community undertaken over the last 40 years as part of, or in collaboration with, Friends of the Merri Creek and the Merri Creek Management Committee.

Keep your eye out for Stage 2 of the project and our planned in-person event (with a Smoking Ceremony) in March 2021.

The Merri Creek Women’s Walk online trail map, including stories of these amazing Merri Women, can be viewed here.