Damper Creek Reserve History

Damper Creek was probably a valuable food source for the traditional inhabitants of the area, the Wurundjeri. Later it was a rest place and water source for stockman.  Today Damper creek takes the stormwater from the surrounding area to Gardiners Creek, on into the Yarra River and eventually Port Phillip Bay.    Alongside and under the actual creek stream there is the sewer main for the surrounding area.  This takes the sewerage down to  East Malvern where it connects with the SE trunk sewer to the Eastern treatment plant at Carrum.
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Damper Creek Reserve played a small part in the building of St Stephen's Anglican Church in High Street Road, Mt Waverley. The plans for the church were drawn up in 1864 and donations were requested to pay for the building. The congregation contracted a William Stevenson (Stephensons Road, a variation, was named after him) who lived about where the Shell Service station is now located on Waimarie Drv, to make the bricks.  He obtained his clay from the crossfire of gullies around Damper Creek. The bricks were fired in a kiln built near the creek and the church members carried them up the hill.  Up until the 1950s the intersection of Stephenson and High Street Rds was difficult to negotiate as the SE tributary passed through the centre of the intersection and there was a deviation to the west in Stephenson Rd to bypass the "hole".  

Orchards, market gardens and farms soon surrounded the creek until after World War 2 when the city began to spread eastward.  Alvie Hall  (the current meeting place of the Friends of Damper Creek Reserve), at the corner of Alvie and High Street Rds was originally created as a motor garage with a future residence above.  The residence was never built and the building was subsequently converted to a church meeting hall and then purchased by the Council.  Just north of High Street Rd, in the late 1930s, the local farmer created a large dam which was used for stock and crop irrigation. With subdivision of the land in St Johns Wood Rd the dam was removed.    

Damper Creek and the surrounding bushland was saved from subdivision and road construction in 1969 by local residents who created the Damper Creek Conservation and Development Group and mounted a campaign against the linking of Sunhill and Swayfield Roads. The nucleus of the group consisted of members of the Sunhill Social Golf Club (which was formed in 1965 and still meets 2014). Ultimately the perserverance of the local conservation group was successful and the development proposals were abandoned and some sections of the original designated park area were "swapped" with the developer to create the area we now have. Without the efforts of this group the Damper Creek Reserve might not be the enchanted bushland retreat local residents now love.

Urban development surrounded the Damper Creek "drain" and the area was infested with blackberries, ivy and other noxious weeds. Willow trees elevated the creek bed and the banks were eroding with the increasing volume of stormwater. The area was used as a dump for local residents' garden refuse and rubbish.

In the early 1990's circuit fitness equipment was put into the reserve but the area was often too boggy and not an attractive or safe place to run.  In the 1980s a toilet block was established in the Park Rd carpark but was later removed because of damage and unsavoury use.   In July 2014 a new playground was built at the Park Rd end of the reserve. 

Bushland Restoration Project

The Friends of Damper Creek Reserve was formed in April 1993. The Friends worked in conjunction with the then City of Waverley (now Monash Council) to begin a staged restoration of the creek.

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 for plants. As well as planting and the general maintenance/weeding the Friends have constructed the middle bridge known as "Palma's Plummet" and the boardwalk over the Bengal Crescent Tributary, put in the two noticeboards, erosion control sleepers, bench seats, fencing and assited with the aquatic ponds.

The initial restoration proposal conmprised 4 stages, Stage 1 - from Alice St bridge to Tarella Dr Bridge, Stage 2 - Tarella bridge to Stephensons Rd, Stage 3 - Alice St Bridge south 250m,  Stage 4 - wetlands south to Park Rd.  The proposal attracted much comment (for and against).  Melbourne Water, the Authority responsible for the creek bed from the Bengal Cres tributary southwards downstream,  was generally supportive and in 1993 it was agreed that Stage1 be constructed to demonstrate the method and assess the results following high flow rates from winter rains.  The creek bed and bank restoration work was undertaken by "Wetland & Wildlife Creations" (otherwise known as the two Tonys) who were the successful tenderers for all stages except Stage 4 Wetlands.  Stage 2 was undertaken in 1994. While Stage 3 was done in 1995. 

Unfortunately, under the then new Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT) Process Monash Council was compelled to accept the lowest tender for Stage 4. This was a decision that was later regretted. The dam wall failed and after several attempts by the contractor to remedy the problem Council withheld final payment and the contractor walked away. At the beginning of 2000 Tony Brindley was employed to repair the dam work. This has been a huge success although it would have been much easier and successful if quality workmanship was engaged in the beginning.

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 north of Melbourne.  Claystone is the indigenous rock, hence the history of brick making in the area.   The large flatter basalt stones (floaters) were carefully positioned and interlocked into layers to provide strength and preclude the rushing waters from eroding the earth behind. During construction of the sewer main in the 1970, some large granite stones were placed in the creek and these were carefull repositioned and integrated with the basalt rockwork.  The "waterfalls" are not natural and were carefully constructed to slow down the flow and provide some turbulence to aerate the water.

The restoration work has continued from Stephensons Road to the junction with Damper Creek East near Alvie Hall. The project was completed with Stage 8 which terminates at the Riversdale Golf Course.  In 2003/4 further restoration work was commenced in Bellbird Corner (corner High Street Road and Stephensons Road, Mt Waverley) by Monash City.  These works were performed by Monash Council with outside contractors, without the participation of Melbourne Water which had no funding!   In 2008 when funding became available, Melbourne Water engaged contractors to rebuild the base of the two arms of the east branch.  (That section from Stephensons Rd and the section from the Hight Street Rd / Stephensons Rd intersection.)  This work was poorly done in that many, many tonnes of rocks were dropped into the creek bed to create riffle sections for aeration but these gradually sank into the clay base. At the western end little stabilisation of the creek bank was made ... perhaps due to the contracted payments being exhausted!  The contractors departed the site in October 2008.  High flow rates illustrate how erosion will eventually cause problems in this area.   Later in 2009/10 some works occurred along Damper Creek East behind the Bowls Club.

In 2014 a new fence was constructed across the creek at the Riversdale Golf Course which allows the high flow of water during heavy rainfall that has usually resulted in local flooding of the area and into rear of the house lots of Yatama Crt. 

In June 2015 worked commenced on creating a small wetland and wooden board walk crossing at the south end of the reserve near the new playground.

Here below is a view of Stage 8 taken in Feb 2005.

Stage 8

The origin of some local street names (from the Waverley Historical Society).
Swayfield Rd - Named after Charlotte  Chamber's House Swayfield  in Kent Rd, Box Hill.  The Chambers family originated from Swayfield England.  Dorothy Chambers married John Carmody.
Kathleen St - Named after Kathleen Carmody.
Maureen St -  Named after Maureen Carmody.
Alice St - Named after Alice (Hore) Hardner.  The Hore and Hardner families lived close to the creek.
Sunhill Rd - Part of the Glendale estate subdivided by the Sunhill Corporation.
Tarella Drv
- Originaly called Alec St but renamed following residents' request as it was part of the Tarella Heights Estate.
Cratloe Rd - Named after Cratloe Wood  the family property of John Carmody.  The Carmody family originated from Cratloe Ireland.   
Susan Crt - 
Named after the granddaughter of the Fairbrother family who developed the court.
Warren Crt
-  Named after the grandson of the Fairbrother family who developed the court.
    
Norman Crt
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