On Saturday 14th December, perfect weather greeted a group of 40 people that had gathered to experience a leisurely and informative bushwalk in the Grampians National Park, near Dunkeld.
The purpose of the day was to learn about the Gooseneck Swamp Restoration Trial, which got underway back in late August when Nature Glenelg Trust and a group of community volunteers built a trial sandbag weir structure to prevent the artificial drainage of Gooseneck Swamp for the first time in over 50 years.
Reasonable late winter and spring rainfall have meant that the structure has been operating effectively since being put in place, with the extra 45cm depth of water now retained by the structure, creating additional wetland habitat for aquatic plants, waterfowl and frogs. In fact, the group was spoiled by hearing a chorus of nationally threatened Growling Grass Frog calls echoing across the wetland several times during the day.
One of the most rewarding things about the day was bringing such a diverse group of people together with a common interest in wetland conservation – and to be able to share with them the good news about the early success of the trial. Those in attendance were also fortunate to have the local and historical knowledge of current neighbours on hand, as well as the previous owners of Gooseneck Swamp – Bobbie and Mal Fraser – who were clearly ahead of their time by recognising the environmental values of the area in the 1980’s. Several people also recognised the key role that Gavin Cerini (an apology for the day) played in the efforts to secure and restore Gooseneck Swamp for conservation purposes – and that the trial has been a great way to capitalise on those efforts, which took place over many years.
In an encouraging sign as we head deeper into the summer, the swamp currently remains full as a result of the impact of the temporary weir structure. Over the months ahead volunteers from the Hamilton Field Naturalists Club are helping to monitor the response of wildlife, to help record the range of environmental benefits brought about by the trial.
The information brochure given to attendees at the Information Day can be downloaded here.
This project is supported by the Glenelg Hopkins CMA, Parks Victoria and local landholders, and is funded by a Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Communities for Nature Grant. For more information, please visit the Gooseneck Swamp project page, or have a browse through the previous project blogs.
Finally, the changing face of Gooseneck Swamp as the trial unfolds…