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Unique Natural Asset At The Crossroads

13 Aug 13

Following Round Table Discussions held at Gunbower on Tuesday 13th August 2013 with a cross section of the community and Governement Agencies the Gunbower Lagoons Project Committee was formed to secure a permanent water allocation for the Gunbower Lagoons System and to manage this area as a precint for sustainable Nature Based Tourism.

Scientific Survey Reports have been completed to establish environmental values of each of the 11 Lagoons which are being investigated for Goulburn Murray Water's (GM-W) Gunbower Lagoons Modernisation Project.  The data collected from these reports will be used to develop Environmental Watering Plans for the Gunbower Lagoons and identify complimentary actions that will ensure the sustainability of Flora and Fauna speices assosiated with these lagoons.

The Gunbower Lagoons Committee of Management's task will be to document and lodge a business case to have Gunbower Lagoons Precinct listed on the North Central Catchment Management Authority (NCCMA) eligible sites list/register. 

The NCCMA makes recommendations to the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) sites for Environmental Water.   The VEWH decides which sites (throughout Victoria) will get Environmental Water.  Seasonal Environmental Watering Plans are released annually.

Unique Asset

Gunbower is a special place in North Central Victoria. 

The Gunbower Creek is a 120km long anabranch which leaves the Murray River near Torrumbarry downstream from Echuca and re enters the Murray at Koondrook.  Thus forming Gunbower Island, the largest inland island in the Southern Hemisphere.

The creek is an ancestral river which has taken the original course of the Goulburn River.  The sand hills in the area were formed from the Goulburn Murray River bed after the Goulburn dried up after the Cadell Fault goelogical event occured several thousand years ago.

Often referred to as the Kakadu of the South, the Gunbower Creek and Lagoons are vital breeding sites for migratory water birds recognised by JAMBA (Haoab-Australia Migrotory Bird Agreeement) and ROKAMBA (Republic of Korea-Australia MIgratory Bird Agreement)  Also many forest and grassland bird species.  In all 95 bird species have been recorded including the White bellied sea eagle (FFG-listed) Vunerable Nankeen NIght Heron (near threatened) Azure Kingfisher (Near threatened. 

Many of these sites also support the only sizeable breeding population of Murray River Platypus down stream from Echuca.

Murray River Turtle, Common Long Neck Turtle and Broad Shell Turle nest in the sand hills adjacent to many of the lagoons.

Fresh Water Catfish classed as Endangered can still be found in these lagoons and a variety of native fish species.  These were first  recorded by William Blandowski when he explored this area in 1850.  You can see Blandowski's work  in his Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aboriginal Australia 1850 (ISBN 97808557137).

Gunbower Creek and Lagoons are associated with the Gunbower Forest Wetlands.  These wetlands are listed with RAMSAR as Wetlands of International Significance.  The Gunbower Creek is used to deliver Environmental Water to the Gunbower Red Gum forests. 

The Gunbower Creek and Lagoons are not listed with RAMSAR.

The Gunbower Creek Lagoons Committee will pursue all avenues to ensure this unique asset secures an Environmental Water Entitlement and is managed sustainably to support all species dependant upon this natural asset for future generations.

Full Scientific Field reports can be downloaded from GM-W Website

Photos of the  Gunbower Lagoons are on FACEBOOK go to Gunbower Creek and Lagoons