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ENVS10001-Natural Environments Landscape Function Analysis--Brimbank Park

Landscape Function Analysis – Brimbank Park

Word Count: 1625

Submission Date: 3rd June 2017


ENVS10001-Natural Environments Landscape Function Analysis--Brimbank Park

Brimbank Park is part of the Maribyrnong Valley Parklands and is approximately fifteen
kilometres north-west of Melbourne’s central business district. The park is situated in the
suburb of Keilor East (Parks Victoria 2017). It is greatly characterised by the Maribyrnong
River and Taylors Creek snaking through the valley and defining a large majority of the
geological features of the park. The park and surrounds were originally land used for
farming, and much of the existing grasslands are present due to the pastoral history of the
park. Currently, Brimbank Park covers 326.8 hectares (Parks Victoria 2017). Opened in 1976
by Parks Victoria, the park offers
immense value to the populations
in the surrounding suburbs that
enjoy its various canoeing, hiking,
and cycling activities.

Geology and Evolution

The evolution of Brimbank Park


and surrounds is characterised by
the volcanic rocks that make up a
great deal of the physical
geography of the area. There has
been evidence of occupation at
Brimbank Park from 40,000 years
ago. The Keilor cranium was
discovered in the 1940s whilst an
excavation was taking place at the
junction of the Maribyrnong River
FIGURE 1: MAP OF BRIMBANK PARK AND SURROUNDING SUBURBS
(GOOGLE MAPS 2017) and Dry Creek, indicating that
Brimbank Park was one of the
oldest Aboriginal settlements in Australia (Parks Victoria 2004). The significance of the Keilor
Cranium is that is serves as concrete evidence of the existence of the earliest occupation of
Australia.
ENVS10001-Natural Environments Landscape Function Analysis--Brimbank Park

A large mass of the rock beds around Brimbank Park and Melbourne are made of volcanic
rock that would have flown from active vents and formed layers of basaltic rock or
bluestone when they were cooled. It is due to the hard-wearing nature of this rock that the
banks of the Maribyrnong River are so steep (Melbourne Water 2009). The volcanic plains
are divided by the Maribyrnong River and Taylors Creek, and the abrupt bluffs amidst the
flat plains and underlying igneous rock beds were formed in the Pliocene epoch,
approximately four and a half million years ago
(Brimbank City Council 2017). These steep river
banks have mostly maintained their structure at
Brimbank Park due to the natural flora reserves
along the bank and the towering River Red gums
that make much of the native flora along the
banks of the river and Taylors Creek. However,
due to 80% of the Maribyrnong catchment being
used for Agricultural purposes, the river bank has
significantly eroded further upstream (Melbourne
Water 2009).

The degradation of the river bank presents a


significant risk, not only to the landowners along
the Maribyrnong river, but also the native,
endangered flora and fauna that relies on the river
for its habitat. As the riparian soils of the river
degrade, and more sediment washes
downstream, it pollutes the river and dramatically
decreases the water quality, changing the pH,
FIGURE 2: REVEGETATION (HENDER 2017)
raising the river floor and making the banks more
prone to flooding. As seen in Figure 2, extensive revegetation along the river bank and the
banks of the creek is a constant priority to help maintain the structural integrity of the bank.
Maintaining the structural integrity of the river banks is a vital part in maintaining water
quality.

Flora and Fauna

At the time of the Brimbank Park and Horseshoe Bend future directions plan (2004), the
poor river flow was affecting the passage of fish throughout the Maribyrnong River. The lack
of flow, due to a drought, and the poor water quality, due to pollution, threatened the
species that make the Maribyrnong River their home. Since the commencement of the park
plan, fish ladders have been installed in Brimbank Park and several weirs along the river
have been put in place to control the flow of the river. This means that during drier summer
ENVS10001-Natural Environments Landscape Function Analysis--Brimbank Park

months, where flow is poor, and the water can grow stagnant, more water can be let
through to improve the quality of the lower reaches of the river.

Brimbank Park has a broad diversity of native flora and Australian wildlife. Much of the
natural grasslands were originally used for stock grazing. Found within the park are a
moderate variety of native birds and Australian marsupials such as wombats and kangaroos.
Brimbank Park is home to 135 species; most of which are birds (Parks Victoria 2004).

Present in Brimbank Park are introduced species such as the European wild rabbit
(Oryctolagus cuniculus), and have become one of the most widely spread pests throughout
Australia (Department of the Environment and Energy 2011). These rabbits degrade the
riverbanks and hillsides with their burrows, and compete with native endangered species for
food and habitats.

FIGURE 3: TAYLORS CREEK (HENDER 2017)

Natural Water Systems

The geology of Brimbank Park is greatly characterised and determined by the waterways
that run throughout the landscape. The Maribyrnong River cuts a valley throughout
Brimbank Park and continues to deepen as the river meets Taylors Creek. The waterways in
Brimbank Park represent a significant natural environment and habitat to the vast wildlife
that lives there, but also to the people who use the park for cycling, hiking, and kayaking
along the river and the various tracks around the park. The rich wildlife that Brimbank Park
enjoys is constantly being threatened by water pollution. The poor water quality of the
ENVS10001-Natural Environments Landscape Function Analysis--Brimbank Park

lower reaches of the Maribyrnong River and Taylors Creek is partially to the mass pollution
that goes through storm water drains and empties into the river (Melbourne Water 2009).

Brimbank Park is part of the Maribyrnong catchment region that covers 1,408 square
kilometres north west of Melbourne. Brimbank Park and
Taylors Creek are in the Lower Maribyrnong system. The
Maribyrnong river is considered the most important river
in the Port Phillip Bay area, second only to the Yarra River.
The rivers and creeks in the Maribyrnong catchment create
deep valleys among the basaltic plains, as seen in Figure 3.
The poor river flow observed at the time of the site visit
was mostly due to poor rainfall throughout summer. The
low water level is clearly visible in Figure 4. The rate of
water flow along the Maribyrnong catchment are
increasingly variable and extended periods of poor water
flow has resulted in loss of habitat for much of the area’s
water life and water-reliant wildlife (Melbourne Water
2017).

FIGURE 4: SANDY BEACH (HENDER 2017)

Human Impacts

The use of the Maribyrnong River for agricultural


purposes has had a direct impact on the quality and flow
of the river. The impact of agricultural use of the river are
a constant issue. Nutrient run-off from fertiliser use on
farms, coupled with low water flows in the summer can
result in the growth of harmful algae and bacteria that
adversely affect the health of the water. The water
quality of the Maribyrnong River has also been adversely
affected by the litter that flows into stormwater drains.
Drain treatments and filtration are a constant challenge.
Managing the pollution that enters public waterways is
important, not only for the native wildlife, but as a fresh
FIGURE 5: HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS
water source for the local urban population.
(HENDER 2017)

Several invasive weed species, that are not native to


Australia, have become a problem for the native wildlife. These invasive weeds, such as
African Box Thorn, and Prickly Pear were originally planted as agricultural fences. These
ENVS10001-Natural Environments Landscape Function Analysis--Brimbank Park

introduced species have become a thorn in the side of park managers. African Box Thorn is
not only poisonous, but also catches native species with its long, dagger-like barbs. These
invasive weeds spread quickly and require constant control measures. The introduction of
species, not just plants, but also animal species has dramatically changed the natural
environment for the native species that live there.

African Box Thorn

FIGURE 6: INVASIVE WEEDS (HENDER 2017) Prickly Pear

As Brimbank Park is a public park, human impact is clearly visible. A lot of the environment is
either artificially controlled, or has been artificially constructed. The bike tracks, the river
fords, the hand railing, and the pastures, are all the result of human interference. It is
arguable that humans are just a part of the natural environment, and that the natural
course of time is that humans are using the environment as any other animal might impact
the environment. However, when a rich diversity of wildlife is lost due to poor management
of waterways and land resources, the environment distinctly loses valuable properties, as
each species is worth protecting.

The housing developments along the Maribyrnong River and near the park, as seen in Figure
5, have increasingly become a problem for the local flora and fauna. As more housing
constructions go up, and topsoil gets removed for the laying of housing foundations, the soil
erodes with wind and rain, and gets washed downwards towards the valley and into the
creek and river. This loose sediment falls to the bottom of the river bed, and, as
aforementioned, decreases the quality of the water. The artificial construction materials
that get discarded in the clean-up of housing construction sites often don’t always get
ENVS10001-Natural Environments Landscape Function Analysis--Brimbank Park

collected, and much of the artificial materials end up finding their way into the park. As
more houses along the Maribyrnong River go up, more native species get displaced as their
habitats get destroyed. The risk of removing protected land for housing developments is
that endangered species could be lost. Brimbank Park is protected land, however, so the
likelihood of extensive redevelopment along the riverbank is unlikely, as the value of
housing is less than the intrinsic value of the life in the park.

The point of this analysis is not to say that humans should avoid using the environment, and
that everything is endangered, however. Farmers who use the environment for their
livelihood should manage their water and natural resources in a way that improves and
preserves their quality. Sustainable use of natural resources means using what we currently
have, without affecting the ability of future generations to obtain their livelihood from the
environment. If all resources are used effectively, and responsibly, the land that we live in
has the ability to sustain us and our future generations for the future.

References
Brimbank City Council 2017, Natural Environment, viewed 1st June 2017,
<https://www.brimbank.vic.gov.au/environment-and-sustainability/natural-environment>.

Department of the Environment and Energy 2011, European wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) , viewed
2nd June 2017, <http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive-species/publications/factsheet-
european-wild-rabbit-oryctolagus-cuniculus>.

Google Maps 2017, Brimbank Park, viewed 31st May 2017,


<https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Brimbank+Park/@-
37.7394495,144.8406592,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x6ad65ede2071114b:0xc7753bee0e6ae6be!8m2!3d-
37.7309646!4d144.832119>.

Hender, N, 2017, Housing Developments, photograph, Brimbank Park Site Visit, Melbourne.

Hender, N, 2017, Invasive Weeds, photograph, Brimbank Park Site Visit, Melbourne.
ENVS10001-Natural Environments Landscape Function Analysis--Brimbank Park

Hender, N, 2017, Revegetation, photograph, Brimbank Park Site Visit, Melbourne.

Hender, N, 2017, Sandy Beach, photograph, Brimbank Park Site Visit, Melbourne.

Hender, N, 2017, Taylors Creek, photograph, Brimbank Park Site Visit, Melbourne.

Melbourne Water 2009, Know Your River-Maribyrnong River, viewed 1st June 2017,
<https://www.melbournewater.com.au/getinvolved/education/Documents/KYR%20-
%20Maribyrnong%20River.pdf>.

Melbourne Water 2017, Maribyrnong catchment, viewed 1st June 2017,


<https://www.melbournewater.com.au/waterdata/riverhealthdata/maribyrnong/Pages/Maribyrnong-
catchment.aspx#LowerMaribyrnong>.

Parks Victoria 2004, Brimbank Park and Horseshoe Bend Future Directions Plan, viewed 31st May 2017,
<parkweb.vic.gov.au>.

Parks Victoria 2017, Maribyrnong Valley Parklands-Brimbank Park, viewed 31st May 2017,
<http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/maribyrnong-valley-parklands>.