With gloves at the ready, students from Lindenow Primary School celebrated National Tree Day last week with a visit to the upper reaches of Skull Creek.
The grade 5’s & 6’s planted over 300 native seedlings, including the endangered Woolly Waterlily, in an an effort to help restore the 10 km stretch of wetlands near Lindenow.
With the new plants in the ground, the kids even found time to investigate the tiny critters that live in the waterholes with the team from Bug Blitz and got their dance on with a little help from Uncle Alfie Hudson.
The event was organised by Greening Australia (GA) in collaboration with the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority with funding provided by the Victorian State Governments ‘Our Catchment, Our Communities’ plan.
Martin Potts, from GA appreciates the significance of being able to foster relationships with the environment from an early age. “These students are directly involved in improving the biodiversity around their own community, what better way to begin to understand the importance of protecting these wetland habitats as a whole.” he said.
Grade six teacher Adam Cairns appreciates the connection that these excursions bring to the biological studies being taught in the classroom. “It’s important that the kids learn that they can have an impact in the community, through planting trees and keeping the environment thriving, as they’ll be responsible for looking after it soon enough. “
Landcare Groups across East Gippsland will share in $146,000 of funding for community projects as part of the latest round of Victorian Landcare Grants.
The funding, distributed through the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA), supports on-ground works and community projects including weed control, pest animal control, protection of habitat, revegetation, and community education.
Graeme Dear, CEO of EGCMA said “the grants will help contribute further to the significant efforts made by our Landcare members in East Gippsland.”
This year the program has funded 12 projects and 11 support grants.
Groups that will receive project funding include:
Bruthen & District Landcare Group
Eastwood Landcare Group
Friends of the Upper Nicholson Catchment Inc.
Snowy West Landcare Group
Tambo Bluff Landcare Coastcare
East Gippsland Landcare Network
Far East Victoria Landcare
Snowy River Interstate Landcare Committee
The Victorian Landcare Grants are helping to implement the Government’s long-term biodiversity plan – Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037.
“The river is back to where it was when I was a child. I can’t remember it looking as healthy as it is at the moment since I was a young bloke.”
So says Daryl Cameron, a cattle farmer from Noorinbee who grew up on the farm that he and his brother Greg now run.
Back when Daryl was a kid he remembers the river being filled with fallen branches, lots of trees on the banks and plenty of little islands in the middle of the river. “You could get across in your boots without getting your feet wet” he says. Suffice to say that Daryl’s seen a lot of changes on the floodplain over the years.
The Cann River valley is well known for its floods. The area has always been prone to flooding but these days locals tend to refer to just three – ’71, ’78 and ’98, with 1971 being the biggest in living memory.
The ‘71 flood stunned the local farmers, with barely a fence left standing in the valley once the waters had subsided. “The 1971 flood tore the guts out of it” explained Daryl. “I woke up to discover our paddocks were four foot under water and I thought, gee I’ve blown my farming apprenticeship here! I remember there was a pressure wave 15-20 foot high throwing out huge trees over the wave, the force was just unbelievable.”
“Historically, authorities thought they were doing the right thing by deepening and widening the river, straightening it up.” concurs Greg, “but the consequences they weren’t able to predict when that ‘71 flood came was that it just moved so much of the alluvial plain into the river. That’s been the big battle since then.”
The Camerons have been working in partnership with the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and its predecessor, the Cann River Improvement Trust, to minimise the impacts of future flood events and improve the health of the river. An important key has been fencing to keep stock off the river and giving native vegetation the chance to regenerate along the river’s banks.
“Getting the river choked up again and trying to slow it down is pretty important to stabilise the riverbed. It’s a simple principle but hard to do and we wouldn’t have had a hope in hell on our own” says Greg.
Revegetating the banks has encouraged reed beds to form and over time longer and deeper pools of water have begun to re-establish. “It’s more systemic of what it would have been like before all of the land clearing so I’d say that it’s very positive. You certainly see the little Galaxia fish in the deeper pools, they were always there when we were kids but they all disappeared after ‘71 of course.”
The whole community is celebrating the return of a platypus on a neighbor’s property upstream explains Daryl, “I haven’t heard of a platypus in the valley for pretty much my whole adult life. It’s very encouraging to know they’re recolonising.”
Both brothers agree on the importance of a healthy river. “It’s the life blood of the valley” says Daryl. “There’ll always be things to manage but it’s the reason we’re all here; we farm and live on a floodplain and so it’s important to have that river as pristine as it can be.”
The Cann River is one of ten flagship waterway projects currently underway across the state as part of a commitment by the Victorian Government under the Water Plan for Victoria.
The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority has been working with a number of its partners to control weeds along the Timbarra River.
Sections of the Timbarra, north west of Buchan, were recently burnt during a bushfire and large areas along the rivers edge are now seeing weeds such as willows and blackberries emerging.
Forest Fire Management Victoria and the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) NRM crew are working to remove weeds, particularly within the popular camping sites in the vicinity.
Further downstream, GLaWAC have also partnered with the Lake Tyers Beach Angling Club in controlling weeds to improve access to popular fishing spots.
These works aim to reduce the extent of weeds along the river, encouraging the regeneration of native vegetation, and to improve access for the local community and visitors alike to enjoy.
“We enjoy a close working relationship with all of our partners.” said the EGCMA CEO, Graeme Dear. “Projects like these are about people working together to improve the health of our waterways for all of the community to enjoy.”
The works are part of the Labor Government’s $222 million investment in improving the health of waterways and catchments, outlined in the Water for Victoria plan.