Your place, bright and lively!

Words by Vicky Shukuroglou

Some residents from the John St/McMahon Ball Paddock site, meeting with Warren (NSC Biodiversity Officer) and Vicky (Nillumbio)

You are invited to join in and revitalise your neighbourhood, bringing buzz and colour closer.

In response to the City Nature Challenge (an international competition encouraging people to look for wildlife in cities), Nillumbio has developed a collaborative project. The project focuses on four sites as ‘beacons’ for what’s possible when people work together with a shared vision. 

Each site is distinct, with unique qualities and connection to the community. The four sites are Hurstbridge Memorial Park in the area of Ann’s wetland, John St through to McMahon Ball Paddock in Eltham, Tadema Reserve, and Eltham East Primary School. 

On the weekend of April 29 and 30, residents of the wider area are invited to gather and discover something fascinating about local plants and animals – those that currently live here, and those that once did. The process will be supported by expert ecologists sharing important insights, with a site-specific focus. No experience is needed to participate!

We all rely on insects, but for some animals, insects are their primary food. As echidnas dig for ants, they improve soil health and create the right conditions for many plants to thrive.

Participants will gain a better understanding of indigenous biodiversity, its values, and key threats to its vitality. We will also discuss the significance of habitat connectivity and ways we can all make a difference to ensure widespread reinvigoration and, in turn, greater resilience. This is critical given the impacts of climate change, urbanisation, invasive species, and more. All present will then have the opportunity to learn about some key approaches for observing, taking photos, and keeping records of plants, animals, and fungi. The use of iNaturalist will be supported.  

Such records are valuable for many reasons. They provide a snapshot of life in a particular area, at a particular point in time.  This can be compared in a year’s time, or a decade, or much longer. Collecting this kind of data is a brilliant way to learn about life in our backyards, nature strips, and local reserves.

This data can also tell us about what we need to do if we want greater diversity of species, and greater abundance of their populations. Creating the right conditions that will support more butterflies, frogs, echidnas, birds and many other creatures throughout Nillumbik is a primary aim. 

Frogs rely on insects. This Brown Tree Frog is out for its late night hunt.

Imagine if people around here had done this a hundred years ago – what might they have seen, and what might we learn from that? Let’s make it happen!

For this project, we are pleased to partner with a few local Friends Groups including Friends of (FO) Diamond Creek Hurstbridge, FO McMahon Ball Paddock, FO Eltham Copper Butterfly, FO Grove Street, all supported by Nillumbik Shire Council. These groups do terrific work and warmly welcome new members.To register your interest in the City Nature Challenge project or register your own neighbourhood site, please email [email protected] or visit