A weekend of wetland exploration with the South East Australian Naturalists’ Association

On the weekend of the 17th and 18th of April, the Hamilton Field Naturalists’ Club hosted the South East Australian Naturalists’ Association (SEANA) autumn 2021 campout. The event had been cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, so it was great to see it go ahead this year!

The South East Australian Naturalists’ Association links Field Naturalists Clubs across Victoria and adjoining areas of South Australia and New South Wales. (Note: A Field Naturalist is a person who studies plants, animals, insects, and other living things in their environment, leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study.)

NGT were pleased to be involved in a range of ways over the weekend, with Greg hosting tours of our southern Grampians wetland restoration sites (Green, Walker, Brady and Gooseneck Swamps) on both Saturday and Sunday, while I was asked to give an address to the whole group of assembled SEANA members (over 130 people in attendance) on Saturday evening in Hamilton. There were seven different tour options each day so that attendees could get out into nature and learn more about the local area.

NGT’s Dr Greg Kerr, hosting a SEANA tour group at the Green Swamp Restoration Reserve. Photo: Mark Bachmann

In a highlight for the Saturday tour group, they had the incredible privilege of seeing the largest number of flocking Brolga that we have ever encountered at NGT’s Green Swamp Restoration Reserve – 168 birds. This is even more than the number we reported in the Newsletter last month. What a great testament to the recovery potential of wetlands!

Just a small sample of the 168 Brolga counted at Green Swamp on Saturday the 17th of April 2021. Photo: Greg Kerr

For the Saturday evening talk, I went into a lot of detail to inform SEANA attendees about the type of detective work we do, and the range of factors we consider, when planning and implementing wetland restoration projects. Of course I also showed examples of the impact and results of this work too!

Just one example I shared – which is relevant given the Brolga photo shared above – is Green Swamp.

Green Swamp: Just one dramatic example showing the impacts of NGT’s past wetland restoration work
A restored Green Swamp on the 18th of April 2021. After a cooler and wetter summer than usual, the wetland is looking absolutely stunning given that this is normally the driest time of the year. Photo: Mark Bachmann.

I joined Greg in hosting the Sunday tour and it was a really wonderful day, as we explored the various wetlands and shared the complex stories of how each of them have been restored by NGT over the past eight years. From NGT’s perspective, the weekend was all about sharing a message of hope – that we can repair wetlands because they have incredible natural resilience and the capacity to bounce back, if we just give them the chance.

If you are interested to read the wetland restoration tour notes from the weekend, you can download them as a PDF here, or see the PDF reader at the bottom of this story.

Thanks to all of our wonderful guests on the tours, and to the Hamilton Field Naturalists’ Club (especially their key organiser Diane Luhrs – well done Diane!) for a great weekend!

The Sunday tour group finishing the day at the location of the former artificial outlet (since back-filled by NGT in 2015) which previously drained Gooseneck Swamp (seen in the background) to its bed level. Photo: Mark Bachmann

Mark Bachmann