Walker Swamp’s Red Gum revival hits the media

Continuing with this month’s Red Gum theme at Walker Swamp, there was a nice short article written by Gavin McGrath from the ABC a couple of weeks ago, which you can read by following this link.

It occurred to me that it might also be worth sharing an image that I took out at Walker Swamp last week – shown below – which nicely illustrates a few things that help complement the ABC article.

Looking west over the western margin of Walker Swamp, as water levels recede over the summer. Photo taken in February 2024, by Mark Bachmann.

In the foreground, you can see the remnants of the mounds and furrows (and if you look even more closely, rotting stumps on top of the mounds) that still remain in parts of the bed of Walker Swamp, exposed now that water levels are receding over the summer months. This illustrates how artificial drainage several decades ago for grazing, led to a later attempt (about 20 years ago) to convert almost all of the wetlands across the property to Tasmanian Blue Gum plantation. Although the plantation was removed from this part of Walker Swamp by NGT about 6-7 years ago, the legacy of this land use will be with us for a while yet, as we wait for the stumps to rot before considering our options for potentially levelling the remaining mounds, where this doesn’t happen naturally.

In the background, if you look carefully, you will see the restored high water mark, indicated by the bare ground that is now exposed, showing where water has been recently lapping at the edge of the nearest Red Gum in the centre of the image. The light green tinge showing up at ground level around the Red Gums in the background, are the flush of Red Gum seedlings taking advantage of the return of better times for the wetland and the removal of grazing livestock. Indeed, if anything, in terms of maintaining an open grassy woodland structure, we might even have too many seedlings coming up, but at least Red Gums are now coming back to health and naturally, spontaneously recruiting at this important site.

Finally, if you are interested to get a sense of how water levels have changed at Walker Swamp over the past 18 months, then please take a look at the images below. From peak inundation after the big rains of October 2022 (Image 1), we had a drier year in 2023, with water levels shown here in July after a wet June (Image 2). The final image was taken last week, and shows the summer dry-down phase in full swing. In some good news, it looks like Walker Swamp will once again hold water through to next winter, for the fifth year running since permanent restoration works were completed in 2019.

NGT’s Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve in November 2022. Photo by Mark Bachmann
NGT’s Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve in July 2023. Photo by Mark Bachmann
NGT’s Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve in February 2024. Photo by Mark Bachmann
Mark Bachmann