Exploring Grampians wetlands – Biolinks Alliance Symposium field trip review

On Saturday the 23rd of June, myself and Greg were delighted to join the Biolinks Alliance Symposium field trip, as we progressed along the eastern flank of the Grampians from north to south, familiarising ourselves with some important wetland case study sites along the way. A visit to the long drained and developed Lake Nekeeya, was followed by a quick comparative look at Lake Muirhead – a significant wetland that straddles public and private land.

Then it was down to Dunkeld for a quick lunch stop at the Community Centre, where I gave an abbreviated talk about NGT’s wetland restoration projects in the local area, before we headed out for a closer look at the new NGT reserve (Stage 1 project area) at Walker Swamp.

Standing on the southern bank of Walker Swamp, Greg explains what is and/or will be done to set the site up as a Reserve for environmental restoration.

After being visited by a trio of very curious emus, and having an excellent group discussion about what is involved in a wetland restoration project of this scale, our guests took advantage of the view from the new bird observation tower. And that was when someone with binoculars noticed that we already have a pair of brolga using the wetland – spotted off in the distance, on the far side of the first puddle that has appeared in the lowest part of the bed of Walker Swamp as a result of recent rains. We think they have picked a good spot, because things are looking up for this important wetland!

Checking out the Walker Swamp outlet drain and 2014 trial structure, before closing proceedings for the day

Before leaving the site and closing the day, we then went for a quick look at the Walker Swamp outlet drain to give everyone a feel for the immense scale of past artificial drainage works. Despite there now being much to do to correct these changes, we were also able to clearly see the role that the low-level trial structure has played as a cost-effective way of identifying the potential of the project (since it was put in place 4 years ago). The trial will be left in place this year, while we design the requirements for permanent works to reverse artificial drainage that will take place next year.

Mark Bachmann