A tribute for a legend

Landcare and friends'' planting project near ZigZag Road in Belgrave Heights, in honour of Darcy Duggan.

“We’re doing this for Darcy and for the bush. This is what he would have wanted,” Merlin Brown, from one of the local groups working along Monbulk Creek, said.

She was speaking at a planting for well-known and much-loved Darcy Duggan who died a month ago (Star Mail 10 Nov).

The planting, the second of a series in honour of Darcy’s work, was in what was degraded bushland near ZigZag Road in Belgrave Heights.

Ms Brown said Darcy saw the value in this patch of blackberry-infested bush over 30 years ago.

“He was a brilliant ecologist. He understood how the natural system worked and what was needed right now to have it flourish over the coming years,” she said.

Darcy felt the need for protection of the Zig Zag tributary to enhance the wellbeing of Monbulk Creek. He convinced Council to fix the erosion issues along Colby Drive leading into the tributary.

He also secured Melbourne Water funding and negotiated a collaborative effort between Government departments to facilitate works on this property owned by Parks Victoria.

Darcy was often seen at bushland sites along the Monbulk Creek and tributaries such as ZigZag, creating and maintaining the bio-links critical to the health of the unique flora and fauna communities that sustain the forest we all value across the Dandenongs.

“Over the years he persevered in his communications with government departments at all levels and has been a critical force in negotiations with state and federal ministers,” Darcy’s partner for 40 years, Liz Conolly, said.

“Darcy was planning this project with us when he became unwell,” she said.

“We’ve come to the ZigZag site to realise the work he set out to do.”

Darcy, when asked for advice on bushland care, or to identify both indigenous plants and weed eradication shared his knowledge generously.

He would follow up questions with not just a name or a technique, but the whole picture of the geology of the particular plant community to which a particular local plant belonged, and how best to remove a weed so it would not return.

Darcy could see into the future and he followed through his vision with a good dose of determination connecting and restoring strategically situated degraded bushland transforming them into habitat corridors.

“Creating a connection of extraordinary plant and animal communities thriving in our neighbourhoods,” Liz said.

“Darcy’s love of the bush and fierce drive to improve its health just kept us all going when sometimes it could feel overwhelming.”