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Monday, October 15, 2007

Karkarook Park, Melbourne

Karkarook Park is in the muncipality of Moorabbin, 20 km SE of the Melbourne CBD.

It boasts serpentine wetlands, trails, picnic areas, a playground and a lake.

In 1997, Parks Victoria entered into a partnership with CSR Limited and Boral Resources to extract sand from the site and then rehabilitate it to form a new recreational lake, wetlands and parkland.

Sand extraction was completed in 2001. The first stages of rehabilitation were completed with the creation of serpentine wetlands, trails, picnic areas, toilets, a playground, access roads and parking. The lake, a major feature of the park, was completed and filled in 2004. The lake has been surrounded by open space, new vegetation, a trail system for walking and cycling and new picnic facilities, all to be ultimately linked with other parks and amenities in the region.

Prior to sand removal, Karkarook Park and adjacent areas were largely used as a storm-water retarding basin and for market gardens and horse agistment. Much of this was weed infested and strewn with rubbish- not an attractive place for a picnic.

Since the development of the wetlands in 1998, over 90 species of native waterfowl have been recorded in the park. Over time the wetlands will mature and this number will increase.

The general bird population will also increase as the available habitat develops within the park, which will occur through the ongoing revegetation program. The whole parkland will become an important location for many species of birds over the years as they return to make Karkarook Park their home.

Most of the indigenous flora in the park has been cleared since European settlement. The few remnants provide the only vegetation cover within the park. A revegetation program began in 1995 with the assistance of local primary schools, but many of the seedlings were destroyed by a grass fire in January 1997. Since then revegetation works have increased and an annual revegetation program is now in place.

The wetlands of Karkarook Park also serve an important function. Storm-water becomes polluted when rubbish and other pollutants are washed from the roads and the urban areas surrounding Karkarook into the storm water system. The wetlands improve water quality by 'cleaning' storm-water as it flows through them. Gross Litter Traps at the park entrance remove floating rubbish like plastic bottles, straws and plastic bags.

Further removal of gravels, sands, silt, oils and other particles occurs by treatment without the use of chemicals. Wetland plants reduce dissolved nutrients flowing into creeks and eventually to Port Phillip Bay.

The wetlands at Karkarook help prevent flooding and erosion after rain. Excess storm-water is stored in the wetlands, raising their water level. The stored water is then slowly released to the creek downstream. By storing the water over a period of time the wetlands create a more stable flow rate downstream and help to control flooding.

Parks Victoria seeks assistance from the community in delivering this program and has set up a series of community tree planting days.

I explored this nice Park on October 14, 2007, doing a 3 km hike, and my pictures of the excursion are at Karkarook Park Photo Album.

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