Waterways of Sherbrooke Forest

A Map of the Main Creeks
Locations of the Four Main Creeks
A Map of the Main Tributaries

Locations of the Tributaries

Elevations of Selected Locations
Summarised Creek Sources and Elevations
The Unwanted Tributaries - Road Drains
Creek Characteristics
Creek Beds
Creek Banks
Creek Fauna & Water Watch
Sherbrooke Falls
Map of Sherbrooke Forest Features
As you can see in this stylised map, Sherbrooke Forest is an irregular pentagon in shape.   It is about 800 hectares in area and slopes from north to south from an elevation of about 500 metres at Ferny Creek and 400m at Kallista to some 200 metres at Belgrave.   Monbulk Road divides the forest into a northwest section and a southeast section.   The waterways consist of four main creeks which run generally from about 300- 500m elevation in the north to about 200m in the south.They have a number of tributaries as outlined later.
The word "creek" might sound a bit low - tech, but in fact each one is quite a sophisticated system with its own unique features, eg. its bed can be composed of a combination of any of the following: silt, soil, clay lumps, gravel, stones, rock, twigs, branches, logs, leaves.   And the same goes for the creek banks, the quality of the water and the animals that find a home in it.  Even the dams and bridges have their own individual histories.   For instance, before the Main Ridge Water Supply was introduced in 1971, nearby property owners pumped water from forest creeks, building dams if necessary, to supplement rain tank water. 
The picture on the right shows the remains of a pumphouse and sump on Swamp Creek (a tributary of Sherbrooke Creek) , now out of service for perhaps 40 years.

(Click the image above to see a larger version)

Two of the main creeks arise in the NW sector.  These are:
  • Sherbrooke Creek, in the Ferny Creek area (see B3 above), at an elevation of 490 m. There is a spring at its source which is outside the forest.
    Historical Note : A map from the late 19th century shows Sherbrooke Creek as a continuation of Monbulk Creek which arises in the SE sector. Another dated 1928 shows Sherbrooke Creek from the source to Long Bridge (D4) as Sherbrooke Gully.
  • Clematis Creek a bit further east, (at F3 above) close to Kallista village and at an elevation of 440 m. The source is a series of springs on the upper (northern) side of Sherbrooke Road, and this source is also outside the forest proper. It joins Sherbrooke Creek some 200m north of Micawber Picnic Ground at an elevation of 275m (see E9). At Micawber Tavern, the creek leaves the forest, runs under Monbulk Road, then under Puffing Billy Railway Station. Some 300m further on, it joins Monbulk Creek.(F11).
Two of the main creeks arise in the SE sector of the forest. They are:
  • Hardy Creek which begins just behind the kiosk at Grant's picnic ground (H4) and at an elevation of 395m.It joins Monbulk creek at J11.
  • Monbulk Creek more or less in the northeastern corner of the forest (L7) -- at 370m. It is joined by Clematis Creek just after Monbulk Creek leaves the forest near the Trestle Bridge (F11).

(Click the image above to see a larger version)

As well as the four main creeks we have four main tributaries (confusingly also called creeks !) and two "gullies" ie creek beds which are usually dry but run water when there is rain.

In the NW sector we have:
  • Swamp Creek (D 3) which joins Sherbrooke Creek (D 4).  It has its own little tributary, Mick's Creek (see D 2) which arises as a spring near the entrance to Nicholas Gardens, at an elevation of 460m.
  • Pound Creek (D 7) which joins Clematis Creek about 200 metres north of Micawber Tavern. (F 9)
Then in the SE sector we have:
  • Freshwater Creek (H 5) which runs into Hardy Creek It has a small tributary of its own called Don's Creek.
    The junction of Don's, Freshwater and Hardy creeks was marked as "Ti Tree flat" on some early maps.
  • Paddy Creek (J 10) which joins Hardy Creek.

    The two gullies are:
  • Adele Gully (E 5), in the NW section, runs south west and flows into Sherbrooke Creek.
  • Dave's Gully (G 10), is in the SE section. It is a tributary of Monbulk Creek.
In the NW sector of the map above, Swamp Creek joins Sherbrooke Creek (D 4) at an elevation of about 440m. Swamp Ck is fed by Mick's Creek, a small rivulet fed in turn by a spring arising opposite the entrance to Burnham Beeches at 460m. A little further south (D 6), Adele Gully runs south west into Sherbrooke Ck at 365m. Below the junction of Sherbrooke and Clematis Cks (F 8), Pound Creek joins Clematis Ck at about 275m.

In the SE sector of the forest, Monbulk Creek arises in the east corner of the forest (L8) at an elevation of 370m, runs south some 800m to an elevation of about 240m (L10), then turns west, more or less parallel to Nation Road.

At H4, Hardy Creek arises at 395m, runs at first in a SE direction, and is joined after about 400m by Don's Creek from the north and Freshwater Creek from the east (H 5). It then runs south for about a kilometre to join Monbulk Creek at an elevation of about 250m. (J 10). Just north of the junction, Paddy Creek, which is about 600m long, runs into it from the NE.

Monbulk Creek continues west and flows under the Trestle Bridge in Selby. A few metres further to the west, and now in Belgrave, it is joined by Clematis Creek outside the forest before turning south again to Belgrave which is approximately 200m above sea level.

Note : Slip Creek and Tip Creek may be found on the comprehensive map at the end of this page

Sherbrooke Ck B3 / 490 Mick's Ck D2 / 460
Clematis Ck F3 / 440 Swamp Ck D4 / 440
Hardy Ck H5 / 395 Slip Ck G5 / 380
Monbulk Ck L7 / 370 Freshwater Ck H5 / 366
Don's Ck D4 / 440
Tip Ck L8 / 350
Paddy Ck K9 / 305
Odelle Gully E5 / 458
Dave's Gully G10 / 305

Rainfall at the north end of the forest used to be considerable at about 1100mma year,although today, in 2008, it is closer to 1000mm. Excess water necessarily finds its way to lower levels via drains or creeks.

Since the park is surrounded by roads and residential blocks, and because many of the latter are unsewered, we have:
  • a number of engineered water entry points viz culverts, through which road litter, road gravel, stormwater, grey water, seeds, nutrients, rubbish and sewage effluent enter the park.
  • numberless, indefinable water entry points at residential locations where run-off from the property simply disappears into the park as an amorphous, invisible mass.
Consequently we often see weed growth, waterlogging, and tree dieback, together with changes in the creek beds and water quality especially after heavy rain.  The photo shows a dump of road rock / gravel in Sherbrooke Creek after a heavy downpour of rain.

The various problems are well known to the relevant authorities - Parks Victoria, Waterwatch Victoria, Melbourne Water and the Shire of Yarra Ranges.  Indeed, one of the most serious of the drain entry points in Nation Road has recently been supplied with a gravel trap which prevents masses of road gravel from entering Monbulk Creek.   Hopefully the problems will be tackled as and when time and money permit.  A few, but not all of the drain entry points around the perimeter of the forest are shown in the map at the end of this page.

The water in the creeks is normally about a metre wide while the depth varies from say 50mm to 300mm.  The velocity of the stream might be 0.5m/s which would result in a volume of say 25-150 l/s.
However, after rain these figures could increase to a width of 2m and a depth to 300mm.  The velocity might be increased a little to perhaps 1.5m/s corresponding to a volume of about 1200 l/s.

After heavy prolonged rain, the width could reach 3 or 4 metres and the depth to a metre or so.   The corresponding flow would be about 20000 l/s.


Creek beds generally feature one or more of the following "ingredients" :
  • rocks of various sizes from largish down to gravel
  • sand
  • silt
  • vegetable matter like branches, fronds, and leaves
Click below images to see a larger verion: 

Smaller rocks washed down by floodwaters
A gravel/silt bed

Larger rocks

Gravel, rock, silt, dead leaves and living vegetation.


Because of the fairly high annual rainfall - about 1100mm - the creek banks are in general colonised by both ground ferns and tree ferns, as well as Sassafras, and occasionally Ti-tree. As you'd expect, they are mostly heavily shaded, and also cool and moist, so that weeds can't easily grow. But if the ground has been disturbed, and the canopy removed, and particularly if there are houses nearby, we get lush weed growth, which can overgrow the creek.
Click image to see a larger version.
This happened at Monbulk Creek east of the Trestle Bridge when an area of some 8 hectares was overrun by Cestrum Elegans, (photo) probably over a period of some 60 years.  Restoration began in May 2000.  It took some three years to weed the whole area, working one morning every week, and the follow up effort has continued for some weeks each year since.  The upstream part of the creek was also found to be host to more cestrum, as well as garden escapes including arum lily, and hydrangea. Clematis Creek also has a weedy Cestrum section at and below the junction of Sherbrooke Creek but is otherwise in quite good order.  The source of Mick's Creek has needed ongoing cestrum attention for some years but is now, in general, weed free.

Pound Creek "features" some Cestrum and Laurels.  

Hardy Creek appears to be weed free.


The nature and number of creek fauna depend on many factors such as rainfall and water flow, physical and chemical composition, inputs from neighbouring roads and houses, nature of the creek banks and beds.
Between 2003 and 2013, five FOSF members undertook monitoring two locations: one on Hardy Creek near the junction with Monbulk Creek, the other in Monbulk Creek under the Trestle Bridge.

On the physical/chemical level we check temperature, pH, conductivity, turbidity, phosphate level and dissolved oxygen.  At the biological level we look for amphipods, mayflies, shrimp, caddis flies, stoneflies and whatever else turns up!

The presence or absence of these animals is a good indicator of the creek's health.   The larger fauna include the water rat and platypus. These are shy animals and are rarely seen.  Platypus have been sighted at the Swamp Creek dam, Clematis dam and in Monbulk Creek upstream of the Trestle Bridge.  In addition, lyrebirds use the creeks quite extensively.

We suggest that platypus and water rat sightings be reported to Australian Platypus Conservancy
 --- email address platypus@vicnet.net.au.  Alternatively, check the APC website:  www.platypus.asn.au 

(Click the image above to see a larger version)
There are five dams situated as follows: (Click image see larger version)

Sherbrooke Dam - See D4.5 - On Sherbrooke Creek between Long Bridge and Paddy Bridge.  We call this concrete wall Yabbie Dam because the humble yabbie, by undermining the wall, is responsible for the fact that the " dam " has never held water!   Originally built to store water for fire protection purposes.
Clematis Dam - See F8 - On Clematis Creek at the junction with Sherbrooke Creek. This was originally built in the late 1930s as a water supply for Belgrave Swimming pool and Upwey High School.  Although there is usually a trickle at the foot of the dam wall, it rarely holds water unless rainfall has been high. 
The left photo shows the dam in its "normal " state while the right one, shows the dam in its "flood" condition ·
Neumann Dam - See K6 - On Freshwater Creek. Built by farmers - the Neumanns -, about 1957 to water farm crops.  It was also considered by the CFA at the time to be useful for fire protection.  However, today there are more accessible sites available for that purpose.
Monbulk Dam - See L8 - On Monbulk Creek near its source. Also built by Neumanns.·
Swamp Dam - See D3 - On Swamp Creek just south of the Mick`s Creek junction. This is the largest of the dams and was originally built to provide water for fire fighting.  In 1960-61 a brick pumphouse was built a few metres from the dam wall to transfer water from the dam to concrete tanks in O`Donohue's Picnic Ground.   These were used to supply water to the then "Main Entrance Picnic Ground", now called "Sherbrooke Picnic Ground."

Some 500 metres closer to the source of Swamp Creek,water was pumped to supply some of the larger properties in Sherbrooke such as "Marybrooke" (Baron of Beef), the Children's Hospital during the 2nd World War (now "Poet's Lane Receptions") "Candle wood" and Selsdon Park.   Later, these sources were abandoned when the Ridge Water Scheme was built to provide reticulated water to residents.


(Click the image above to see a larger version)

There are seven wooden bridges, one fabricated in concrete and two culverts (not shown)
which act as bridges:

Long Bridge (see D 4) crosses Sherbrooke Creek at the junction of Swamp Creek.

Paddy's Bridge is actually a culvert under Sherbrooke Track just south of Long Bridge
Former bridge across Clematis Creek linking the other side of Treefern Track. See G4 / G5

A small bridge crosses Clematis Creek a few metres north of Micawber Tavern car park. See F 8

And another on Paddy Track near Nation Road crosses Monbulk Creek See J 11. This is the only bridge with a concrete pathway
A bridge crosses Sherbrooke Creek at Sherbrooke Falls. See D 5. It's interesting to note that the walkway is laid on laminated beams which were an innovation at the time (about 1970).

There are two bridges on Hillclimb track. The photo on the left shows the one not far from Micawber dam, while to the right is a new bridge (2009) crossing Adele Gully.
And there's a rather neglected looking one at the north end of Hackett Track, close to the source of Sherbrooke Creek. See B3.

The falls are part of Sherbrooke Creek (see D5), and are quite small, normally having a width of perhaps 350mm, while the fall of water is some 6-7m high. The projecting rock from which the water actually falls has been placed in position manually to give a better effect.This picture was taken a day after a rainfall of some 20mm.
The creek is spanned at this point by a bridge of recent origin. (see above).
In the late 1850s, the falls were named Graham`s Falls after RW Graham who cut the first track into this scenic point and who also guided tourists into the area (as well as managing the local Post Office in Sherbrooke Road). In the 1920s the area featured a splendid log kiosk and picnic tables with attached benches. Later, in the 1970s a steel framed wooden shelter and a brick toilet were added. There were also some very large Mountain Ash, one with a 6m girth judging by the stump which remains at the site. Unfortunately vandals attacked the amenities and the trees in the late `70s with the result that the picnic ground had to be cleared in the `80s.

(Click the image below to see a larger version).