Planting 4 Platypus

Platypus in the Diamond Creek in Melbourne’s north east are feeling the love from their local community who are working hard to improve the creek habitat.

Platypus are identified as a key value in the Healthy Waterway Strategy, however habitat modelling reveals that climate change and urban growth could impact this unique and iconic aquatic mammal to the point where it could become locally extinct in some of Melbourne’s waterways.

Platypus are resident in the Diamond Creek and are part of a broader population of platypus in the Yarra catchment.

One area where platypus currently reside is Diamond Creek in the Yarra catchment. Land use in the upper part of Diamond Creek is predominantly agricultural with urbanisation dominating in the lower reaches. The Healthy Waterways Strategy assigns platypus a ‘low’ score in Diamond Creek and considers the species to be ‘vulnerable’ due to impacts from stormwater in the lower urban section and reduced stream flow in the rural section (Ecology Australia, 2020). In addition to these threats, platypus in Diamond Creek historically have had one of the highest rates of litter entanglement across the Melbourne region.

Good populations of platypus are found in many forested and rural reaches of the Yarra River and this supports some Yarra tributaries that are more urbanised, such as Diamond Creek and Mullum Mullum Creek, to sustain smaller resident populations. It is thought that these smaller populations can persist because they are able to access the Yarra main stem and the range of habitat available there for foraging.

Platypus distribution in Diamond Creek detected through recent eDNA monitoring.

The Waterwatch team has been working closely with Friends of Edendale, Edendale Community Environment Farm and Nillumbik Shire Council to improve habitat and raise awareness of the threats to platypus along Diamond Creek. One of these initiatives is ‘Planting 4 Platypus’ which has involved a series of events aimed at improving platypus habitat and engaging the local community to raise awareness of the presence of these elusive creatures and the threats they face.  

Planting 4 Platypus aims to improve vegetation along the creek through parts of Eltham to benefit many environmental values, including platypus.

These events have been very well received by the community and have successfully brought like-minded community members together for fantastic on-ground outcomes.  So far, over 1,000 plants have been established along Diamond Creek which helps to shade the stream, stabilise banks and improve local habitat for multiple environmental values, including resident platypus.  

The Waterwatch team sampled macroinvertebrates from Diamond Creek so the community could take a look at what platypus eat and learn about the impacts of erosion caused by urban stormwater inflows. Splash (the taxidermied platypus) was also in attendance so that people could get an up-close look at the creature.

Macroinvertebrates (platypus food) and Splash the platypus was on display for people to learn more the elusive platypus. 

Harnessing the momentum and strong partnership formed on these days, future community planting events are planned, targeting additional areas along the Diamond Creek in need of habitat restoration.  Working with key stakeholders in this area towards a common goal has been key to successful community engagement events that contribute to strong environmental outcomes. The partnership is excited to continue to work together to help protect our iconic platypus.

Planting along Diamond Creek was conducted by a partnership of Waterwatch, Friends of Edendale, Edendale Community Environment Farm, Nillumbik Shire Council and the community.

Links to the Healthy Waterways Strategy – Yarra Catchment, Diamond Creek sub-catchment

Planting along Diamond Creek to improve streamside vegetation, shade the water, provide organic matter sources and stabilise banks will support multiple environmental values including platypus in the Yarra catchment.  This work contributes to performance objectives to plant and maintain vegetation and increase community participation in the Diamond Creek Rural sub-catchment