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Gunbower floodplain watering update

Closeup of aquatic vegetation on a floodplain with redgum trees in the background.
25 May 2021

The lowering of Gunbower Creek for the important construction of the Koondrook and Cohuna fishways means delivering water to Gunbower Forest through the Hipwell Road Channel is not possible in 2021.

The 2020-2021 Seasonal Watering Plan listed using the Hipwell Road Channel to deliver water to the forest as a possibility, but flagged it may not be operationally possible due to the timing of fishway construction.

Working with GMW, we have been able to time the construction of both fishways in the one year to reduce the overall ecological impact on the creek and the forest. 

By winter 2022 the forest will have experienced three, going on four, consecutive years without inundation and is due for a drink, unless there is a natural flood. 

Monitoring of redgum health shows the forest is now very dry and long-term annual monitoring shows that improvements made in the condition of river red gum forest as a result of natural floods and environmental watering since the end of the Millennium Drought are at risk.  We are keen to see that the health of the forest does not go backwards again.

When the time comes to plan for next year we will be consulting with our ecologists, stakeholders, Traditional Owners and the local community.

As we are unable to use the Hipwell Road Channel we are delivering water through the smaller regulators downstream of Cohuna now in autumn, with further watering planned in spring. These smaller watering events will support aquatic vegetation, small-bodied native fish, waterbirds, turtles and other fauna in these high value wetlands and any fringing river red gum forest.

At most, these smaller watering events may result in hundreds of hectares of the forest and permanent wetlands receiving water, not the 4,500 ha, or 20%, of the forest, that can be watered via Hipwell Rd. 

Both waterings are a great chance to “Explore the Gannawarra: Victoria’s nature-based tourism destination” and see parts of the forest come to life.