Announcing… Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve – NGT’s First Wetland Reserve in Victoria

In what is proving to be a very big year for Nature Glenelg Trust, we have some further tremendous news to share!

I am really excited to be able to announce that NGT has recently purchased Walker Swamp, our first wetland reserve in Victoria – situated in the southern Grampians near Dunkeld. Following up from the recent news about the donation of Kurrawonga at Nelson, this is the second NGT Reserve to be established in Victoria, and our fourth reserve overall.

Long-term subscribers to our email newsletters may recall that we’ve talked about Walker Swamp on a number of occasions since 2014, when we worked with a previous owner of the site (Macquarie Forestry) to initiate a minor restoration trial – following the success of similar trials at nearby Gooseneck Swamp and Brady Swamp.

Despite a portion of the swamp technically being public land (Lake Reserve), the entire wetland was comprehensively drained to its bed level several decades ago, in an attempt to open up the surrounding land for agriculture, and more recently, plantation forestry – noting that the latter land-use in particular was not well suited to the heavy, seasonally waterlogged soils of the area (being situated within the Wannon River floodplain). As a result of artificial drainage however, the Lake Reserve, and indeed the entire wetland feature, very rarely held any depth of water for any significant period of time – until the trial commenced in 2014.

To help you get your bearings, the configuration of the new 500 acre Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve is shown below.

Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve: showing the future restored extent of Walker Swamp (blue shading) the NGT property (dashed yellow outline), Parks Victoria Lake Reserve, and existing artificial drain through the wetland (dashed red line).

Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve: showing the future restored extent of Walker Swamp (blue shading) the new NGT property (dashed yellow outline), Parks Victoria Lake Reserve (as marked), the existing artificial drain through the wetland (dashed red line) and the location of the current low-level trial structure.

Because we were so impressed by the results of the restoration trial (see image below) we’ve been exploring options for fully restoring and permanently protecting the site ever since.

Results of the Walker Swamp Restoration trial - given that we have only achieved partial restoration of the site's natural hydrology so far, this is just the beginning...

Results of the Walker Swamp Restoration trial – given that we have only achieved partial restoration of the site’s natural hydrology so far, this is just the beginning…

Needless to say, it has been quite a long and complex journey that has led us to today’s announcement.

In fact, for most of the past four years it looked like this day would never come, but thanks to the incredible commitment and support of our major project partners – the Glenelg Hopkins CMA and the Hamilton Field Naturalists Club – and a little dose of NGT perseverance, we were thankfully in a position to be proative when the opportunity presented itself to negotiate the purchase.

As with all of our restoration projects however, this announcement is just the beginning.

Restoring a floodplain site that was drained, grazed and then mounded and planted to blue gums, and turning that into a conservation area is a big job. But we’re fortunate to now have a highly experienced Senior Ecologist Greg Kerr based in Dunkeld, to oversee this process as it unfolds over the years ahead. Under Greg’s guidance – with myself and Lachie also pitching in our local experience – a clear pathway to full restoration is now emerging. This process, and how it is to be funded, will be the subject of future news articles.

But for today, we hope you are as excited as we are, to be be able to permanently (and quite literally) put Walker Swamp back on the map!

The site is currently dry after the long and hot summer and autumn, but a community event out there in the spring (when the place will be at its best) is definitely on the cards… so watch this space!

This project is supported by:

Glenelg Hopkins CMA logoHFNC Logo

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