Reconnecting the Wannon floodplain

In 2013 Glenelg Hopkins CMA and Nature Glenelg Trust (NGT) partnered to improve the wetting duration of three key wetlands – Gooseneck, Brady and Walker Swamps – on the south-east edge of Gariwerd (Grampians National Park). These wetlands once supported breeding colonies of magpie geese and ibis, and roosting grounds for large flocks of brolgas. Trials of raising the height of the outlets proved successful and more permanent structures were built in Gooseneck and Bradys Swamps.

Based on this success NGT and Glenelg Hopkins CMA partnered to buy Walker Swamp and surrounds (200 ha) in 2016. Funding through the State Government’s Our Catchments Our Communities program, AGL and the Hamilton Field Naturalists Club supported this purchase. In 2017, NGT was able to purchase an adjacent floodplain area through a very successful crowd funding campaign, creating the 400 ha Walker Swamp Reserve. This land had been grazed for more than150 years, drained in the 1950s and planted with Blue Gums in the early 2000s.

With skilled contractors and more than 2,570 community volunteer hours, the physical and hydrological restoration of Walker Swamp has been achieved through: 

  • Repairing and building 13 km of fence.
  • Harvesting 110 ha of blue gum, treating 120 ha of coppiced stumps, and removing 90 ha of plantation mounds from the wetland.
  • Raising Lynchs Road by 50 cm and installing new culverts to let the water flow south.
  • Developing monitoring and management plans.  
  • Filling 26 km of drains through the wetland, raising the height of two levies, removing a levee and installing 2,500 sandbags with volunteers to create a new regulator in the outflow drain.
  • Building a public access point and bird hide, and training 30 people in community science bird monitoring.
  • Collecting data on vegetation, red gum condition, water quality, birds, macroinvertebrates, frogs, terrestrial invertebrates and vertebrates. 

In a region that has been extensively modified for agriculture and plantation forestry, the restoration of Gooseneck, Brady and Walker Swamps helps complete the reinstatement of the Wannon River floodplain delta. In doing so it provides habitat and refuge for several threatened and protected fauna and flora species, including the brolga, magpie geese, growling grass frog and seasonal herbaceous wetlands.

People power and passion have been crucial in this very ambitious restoration project and together this has created the foundations for a long-lasting legacy of people connecting with Walker Swamp. In 2019, NGT won a national River Basin Management Society award for ‘Involving community in waterway management’. 

Walker Swamp, Eastern Maar Country
Photo: Greg Kerr

Raising the weir at Walker Swamp
Photo: Nature Glenelg Trust

PartnersNature Glenelg Trust, Glenelg Hopkins CMA, Hamilton Field Naturalist Club, LandMate, Parks Victoria and DELWP
InvestorsVictorian Governments Our Catchments Our Communities, National Landcare, DELWP Climate Innovation Grant, AGL
Related StrategiesWater for Victoria, Biodiversity 2037, Our Catchments Our Communities, Glenelg Hopkins Waterway Strategy 2014-2022