A great day out with our wonderful supporters at Walker Swamp!

Our 1st Anniversary celebration at the Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve on Sunday the 29th of September 2019 was a great day out!

It was cool and cloudy, so we lit the campfires and had a hot cuppa ready to welcome almost 100 guests from as far afield as Melbourne and Adelaide, plus many places in between like Geelong, Ballarat, Warrnambool, Ararat, Hamilton, Dunkeld, Mount Gambier, Bordertown and Keith – just to name a few.

Our guests mingle and gather upon arrival at the Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve. Photo: Bryan Haywood.

The day kicked off with morning tea and a short introduction before our guests toured in groups around four stops to experience different aspects of the site before lunch.

In no particular order, Stop 1 was with Jodie Honan, who has been completing an art therapy placement with NGT as part of a Masters course. She encouraged participants to create a shared artwork inspired by nature, the natural materials around them, and the story of Walker Swamp. Needless to say, the children in attendance were onto the task straight away, and the ‘big kids’ did a great job too – collectively bringing the blank canvas to life …

Stop 1: Nature and Art with Jodie. Photo: Bryan Haywood

Stops 2, 3 and 4 took people around the edge of the main Walker Swamp basin; first to Lachie at the upgraded road and culverts, then to Greg at our new interpretive signage at the bird observation tower, and finally to myself at the newly constructed outlet spillway. It was here that Nicole also joined me and had waterbugs from Walker Swamp ready to investigate under the magnifying glass.

This was a chance to step everyone through the major works across the property over the past 18 months, which have set it on a long-term trajectory of ecological recovery. It also gave participants further understanding of the value of wetlands in this landscape; not only as important areas for biodiversity in their own right, but as part of a reinstated floodplain now reconnected with the upper Wannon River.

The floodplains of many regulated rivers in Australia are being more and more heavily engineered, in a process that began decades ago and often still continues today. In many cases they have been ‘banked off’ and hence even where they have been set aside for environmental purposes, are generally unable to function naturally without ongoing human operation of structures like gates and weirs. With this in mind, it has been very satisfying to set up Walker Swamp and its associated floodplains with a much cheaper and efficient ‘set and forget’ design philosophy, where Mother Nature dictates the terms, and our role in water management is now entirely passive.

Stops 2, 3 and 4, with Lachie (left), Greg (centre) and Mark / Nicole (right) exploring different aspects of the project at Walker Swamp. Photos: Bryan Haywood

We gathered back at our informal campground for a delicious BBQ lunch, which was cooked by fantastic volunteers from the Dunkeld Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support Group.

Page 1 of the hand-out – Please click on image above to download pdf

After some more time to chat and relax, a large group headed off for a loop hike around the southern (Stage 2) part of the property to close out the afternoon. This gave everyone a chance to see more of the site and better explore and understand how the floodplain is expected to function in the next major rainfall event, now that almost all the artificial drains have been filled in.

All in all, it was a real privilege for us to spend the day with so many generous people, who have collectively chipped in to bring the vision for Walker Swamp to life. To each and every one of you, we sincerely thank you for showing such faith in us and the ability of our wetlands to bounce back. Little more than two years ago, this restoration project seemed like an impossible dream, but together we have made it a reality and created a wonderful, healing place that (as a permanent NGT Reserve) will stand the test of time, as it continues to recover over the years and decades ahead.

If you’d like to get a better sense of all the interesting things we talked about on the day and the progress that we’ve made to restore over 1000 acres of floodplain wetlands, then you are in luck! We also produced a hand-out for all attendees that gave a concise illustrated overview, and it is now available to download as a pdf document here, or by clicking on the adjacent front page image.

Finally in case you are wondering, thanks to our fantastic supporters, we have less than $6000 left to go to have the property completely paid off, so we are getting very close!

The live tally is …

$145,820.00 / $150,000.00

If you would like to help us clear the last of the land purchase debt, so that we can get on with the job of restoring wetlands elsewhere, we’d be delighted to have you on board with the project – and you won’t be alone!  In fact, you will be joining a group of over 250 people who have donated so far.

In addition to private donors, Nature Glenelg Trust is also especially grateful to the following organisations and programs for their role in helping us to finance the purchase of the site and/or support the major restoration works undertaken over the past 18 months.

A cloudy day and the view over Walker Swamp on the 29th of September 2019 – regenerating emergent vegetation in the wetland is just about to appear…. Photo: Bryan Haywood.

Mark Bachmann
Mark Bachmann
mark.bachmann@natureglenelg.org.au