Gunbower Forest and Gunbower Creek

Latest news

New tourism brochure

A new brochure encouraging tourists to "flood to Gunbower this spring" has been sent out to tourism networks.
The brochure highlights the forest's many attractions, including its magnificent camping and fishing spots. Download the brochure here.

The latest Flooding for Life Community newsletter is available here.

Flooding for Life project

The Flooding for Life project aims to provide environmental flows to Gunbower Creek and restore regular flooding to Gunbower Forest, ensuring the future health of this important wetland forest and the plants and animals that depend on water to flourish.

The project incorporates a combination of environmental watering, engineering works, monitoring, indigenous partnership programs and Community engagement. To date, the project has been largely funded through The Living Murray program.

Gunbower Forest is a priority for environmental watering due to the significant environmental values it contains - diverse and rare wetland habitats, vulnerable and endangered flora and fauna including internationally recognised migratory waterbirds and large areas of remnant vegetation communities

As the southern border to Gunbower Forest, Gunbower Creek is also a priority for watering. Very high environmental, cultural and socio-economic values are associated with the creek and the services it provides.

This includes the presence of endangered fish such as Murray cod and Golden perch. Due to the high diversity of fish in the creek, it is considered to be a valuable refuge and source of fish for the recolonisation of surrounding waterways.

What are we doing for 2015-16?

The Seasonal Watering Proposal (SWP) for the Gunbower Forest and Gunbower Creek outlines the proposed watering activities for the 2015-16 season.

The North Central CMA has adopted an adaptive approach to planning and management for these systems under four scenarios. These scenarios align with those developed for water resource management undertaken by G-MW and are classified as drought, dry, average and wet.

Environmental watering of Gunbower Forest

The high priority watering action in 2015-16 for Gunbower Forest is to provide top-up watering to permanent and semi-permanent wetlands. Delivering water to these wetlands, including Reedy Lagoon, Black Swamp, and Little Reedy Lagoon complex is critical for continued ecosystem recovery.

River red gum areas surrounding these wetlands will also be flooded with this watering action, helping to maintain the flood tolerant understory.

Approximately 20 GL will be delivered through the Hipwell Road Channel into the forest over a six-to-eight-week period during spring (early September). About 15% of Gunbower Forest (or 3,000 ha) will be flooded by the environmental water, however the event this year will be shorter and shallower compared to the 2014 event.

The spring flood will stimulate wetland plants to germinate, flower and set seed. Small native fish will also benefit with spring flooding stimulating their breeding in forest wetlands. These small fish will provide food for waterbirds attracted to the forest. The environmental watering is essential for keeping the forest vibrant, helping it to continue its function as 'one of kidneys' of the river.

Some nutrient and carbon rich good blackwater will be returned to the Murray River and Gunbower Creek during the event. The good blackwater, or 'gum leaf tea' will provide a boost to the food web in the forest, creek and river. The number of bugs in the water will increase, which in turn act as a food source for fish, waterbirds and other aquatic animals.

If colonial waterbirds (egrets, cormorants, ibis) beginbreeding in response to the environmental watering event, environmental water may need to continue to be delivered into the forest. Detailed Monitoring and advice from specialist ecologists will be used to determine the water requirements of breeding birds.

Throughout the environmental watering event the forest will remain open for visitors to use the forest however some access tracks to recreational areas may be closed to assist visitors avoid flood waters.

Even with some access tracks closed there are still ample of areas within the forest, along the Murray River and Gunbower Creek for visitors to enjoy bush walking, fishing, camping or bird watching.

For the latest information regarding the delivery of environmental water visit North Central CMA's website; for tourist information, including recreational opportunities, visit Gannawarra Shire's Gateway to Gannawarra Visitor Information Centre in Cohuna or call (03) 5456 2047; for information regarding forest access and track closures, see the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning's Public Access Map here.

Environmental watering of Gunbower Creek

The high-priority watering action in 2015-16 for Gunbower Creek is to provide conditions that:

� support the life cycle of large and small bodied fish in Gunbower Creek. Flows in 2014-15 successfully supported spawning and survival of Murray cod. This will continue in 2015-16 with additional winter base flows for small bodied native fish
� create connectivity between Gunbower Forest and Gunbower Creek for the movement of fish, aquatic invertebrates and carbon, when flow rates allow.

A set of flow components will be delivered throughout the 2015-16 watering season, these are collectively described as a 'ish hydrograph. Environmental water will be piggy-backed upon irrigation flows to achieve desired flow rates through the creek.

The native fish hydrograph represents the latest flow recommendations developed for Gunbower Creek and targets species identified as being in decline such as Murray cod. The fish hydrograph targets key life-history processes for large bodied fish species that are initiated by appropriately timed flow events such as movement to spawning areas.

For example, rising spring flows initiate movement and spawning and providing flows for a suitable duration maximises opportunities for fish to find a mate, spawn and enhance access to spawning sites.

Winter base flows is a critical flow component of the fish hydrograph to ensure fish, especially juvenille fish, are able to survive in the creek when there is no irrigation demand. Winter base flows aim to maintain connectivity between habitats and maintain habitat and food resources.

Approximately 19 GL of environmental water will be delivered over the 12-month period. The actual volume delivered will be highly dependent upon how much irrigation water is delivered throughout the season.

The beautiful Flooding for Life coffee table book is also available to view by clicking here. Due to the large size of this file it may take a few minutes to download, it also requires Adobe Flash Player to view correctly.

Flooding for life Community Newsletter

Additional information:

Project contacts:

Anna Parker
Gunbower Forest Project Manager

Kathryn Stanislawski
Gunbower Forest Project Manager