The headwaters of the Toomuc/Bourke’s Creek start up near where Patternoster and Emerald roads meet, south of Emerald. As the water meanders down the hills, it gains momentum and volume until historically it emptied out into the western fringe of what was called The Great KooWeeRup Swamp. In the 1880’s’s the draining of the swamp began and a new drain was built to join the Toomuc and Cardinia Creeks and to take the flow into Westernport Bay.
Early on, the banks of the creek were cleared in the belief that it would help the floodwaters to disperse. Unfortunately without the vegetation to hold the banks in place, erosion became a serious problem. An article written in 1940 stated that the bed of the creek was 29 feet (or 8.8 meters) from the railway bridge. Compare this to 1877 when the railway was built, the bed was only 9 foot (or 2.7 meters) below the bridge. In the 1980’s I found a newspaper under some linoleum in a house we were renovating. The article was written in the early 1960’s and listed the farmers who were fined for NOT removing vegetation in the vicinity of the Toomuc Creek.
In 1914 the local health inspector, Dr. White inspected the main drain (under council control) flowing into the Toomuc near the Highway Hotel and “found it in a most filthy and neglected condition and for some years it has been emptying itself into the Toomuc Creek” In the article it also stated that “Councillor Henty draws his water supply from this creek for drinking and domestic purposes, the wonder is that he is alive”.
The poor old Toomuc really did have some battles to contend with. Yet another issue raised it’s head, the introduction of non-native species. This article was published under the heading “Notes for Boys”, written by Donald MacDonald in The Argus, Tuesday 19th of April 1921. “In the circumstances described by M. K. (possibly Michael Kelly), Pakenham, the introduction of carp to the Toomuc Creek was a serious mistake, not easily remedied. They are the most useless of all the English pond fishes. For the special water described, I would recommend English trout (brown not rainbow) while for the isolated dam, tench (another variety of carp, also known as doctor fish) are perhaps most suitable.”
Thankfully the Toomuc Creek today supports a colony of trout, eel and galaxia. Either by luck or good management the carp never got a foothold. In the 1980’s platypus were spotted in the creek near Brown road. The drought and environmental pressures have left us with no evidence of the elusive little creature there today. Hopefully with better management practices the health of the Toomuc will allow platypus to be reintroduced.