The Long Swamp Restoration Trial Gets Underway!

The Long Swamp Restoration Trial Gets Underway!

This was a day that many people in the local community had long been waiting for!

On Friday the 9th of May 2014, forty-five willing volunteers from several community groups and environmental organisations from both Victoria and SA descended on the Nobles Rocks area within Discovery Bay Coastal Park. The forecast wasn’t great, and the weather looked ominous, but thankfully the rains stayed away – unlike those heavy downpours of a week earlier that had caused the outlet to start flowing much sooner than in previous years.

Our volunteers for the day assemble, ready to get started!

The first stage of the restoration trial project involved getting the local community together to help construct a low-level temporary sandbag weir structure, initially at the most accessible and feasible location in this dynamic coastal environment. This hands-on trial method has been chosen because previous studies to model the likely inundation impacts of hydrological restoration have been hampered by a lack of accurate topographical (ie. elevation) data. Unlike many other more open or cleared areas where we can use digital elevation data (from LiDAR) to accurately predict inundation, the thick vegetation types of this coastal environment obscure accurate height readings from the air, and make this technique less reliable.

So we have gone back to basics, and are using a staged trial process to progressively record and measure impacts on the ground, in real time by charting the response of the water itself – as well as a range of associated ecological measures. In this particular instance (working in such a small portion of a much larger, dynamic wetland system), this is the lowest risk and most cost-effective way to inform and progress hydrological restoration planning for Long Swamp.

So, enough of the background… I’m sure you are wondering how the day went?

The fact that the outlet had already started flowing was both a blessing and a curse. A curse because it impacted on our ability to secure the base of the structure firmly into the (now boggy) ground when preparing the site for the works. A blessing because there is nothing like seeing the water respond in real time to what you are doing… and this in itself proved to be very informative.

It started simply enough, with the front edge of the structure prepared in time for when the the volunteers arrived. Then over the next 2-3 hours the process unfolded, as illustrated in the photo sequence below (please click to enlarge and watch the slide show).

The site was prepared on the 5th May by Dan Anderson and Mark Bachmann. This is how it looked on the 6th, when we were doing the final planning for the sandbagging day on the 9th.

First thing on the 9th – and a pile of sand ready to go, thanks to Steve Cooper from Parks Victoria on the Kubota.

Getting the base fabric in place, before the majority of volunteers arrive

A little more progress with setting out…

With all the volunteers on deck, things swing into action!

Now we are making fast progress!

The work continues…

Water levels rising…

Bolstering the centre of the structure, and capping it with heavier duty sandbags.

Water levels have risen very quickly, now running over the completed structure. Time for some lunch and the end of the day for many volunteers, while we wait for a delivery of extra geo-fabric to arrive from the NGT office in Mt Gambier.

The last of the volunteers for the day who stayed to help set up a final protective layer of geo-fabric (to help minimise any movement of bags due to the speed of the flow).

A couple of us stayed on site for a while longer to finish packing up and to make sure everything was stable (thanks for sticking around Bryan). This is the last shot from the 9th May. What a huge day!

Checking on how things have settled in on the 10th of May – so far so good…

I will provide another update next week, giving more detail of the things we encountered (and had to adapt our plans to suit) in the process of building the trial structure, and an overview of the many things we learnt in just one day!

Stay tuned for more to come….


PS – A massive thank you to everyone who came along from the following groups or organisations:

Nelson Coastcare and Nelson Men’s Shed (14) – Leila, Mardi, Christina, Trevor, John, Ian, Ron, Bill, Russell, Rod, Graeme, Cathy, Trish and Neil

Friends of the Great South West Walk (1) – Gordon

Portland Field Naturalists Club (2) – Janet and Jo

Tarragal Landcare (1) – Gary

Mt Gambier Area Friends of Parks (8) – Helen, Ian, Malcolm, Liam, Jake, Christian, Ken, Katrina and Russell

Port MacDonnell Landcare (1) – Peter

Parks Victoria (6) – Dave, Steve, Daniel, Levi, Tommy and Daniel

Glenelg Hopkins CMA (2) – Jarred and Ryan

Deakin University (1) – Brien

Birdlife SE SA (1) – Bryan

Nature Glenelg Trust (8) – Rose, Jess, Jonathan, Lauren V, Lauren K, Lachie F, Lachie H and Mark.


Mark Bachmann