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Gaynor Swamp, Reedy Swamp, Loch Garry, Doctors Swamp and Kanyapella Basin wetlands can receive water for the environment through irrigation supply infrastructure. The volume of water that can be delivered to each wetland depends on the physical capacity of the infrastructure and the seasonal allocation. Water for the environment can be delivered from the Goulburn River to Horseshoe Lagoon via a temporary pump.

Traditional Owners
Storage manager
Environmental water holder

Environmental watering objectives in the Goulburn wetlands

Frog icon
Maintain or increase the diversity and abundance of frog species
Maintain turtle populations
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Increase the diversity and cover of native wetland plant species consistent with ecological vegetation class1 benchmarks Reduce the cover and diversity of exotic plants Maintain populations of rigid water milfoil, slender water milfoil and river swamp wallaby-grass
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Provide breeding habitat for waterbirds Provide feeding and roosting habitat for waterbirds

Environmental values

Many natural wetlands across the Goulburn catchment including Reedy Swamp, Loch Garry, Gaynor Swamp, Kanyapella Basin and Doctors Swamp are formally recognised for their conservation significance. The Goulburn wetlands support a variety of plant communities ranging from river red gum swamps to cane grass wetlands. Reedy Swamp contains a mosaic of vegetation types including tall marsh, floodway pond herbland and rushy riverine swamp. It is an important drought refuge, nesting site for colonial waterbirds and stopover feeding site for migratory birds (such as sharp-tailed sandpiper and marsh sandpiper).

Doctors Swamp is considered one of the most intact red gum swamps in Victoria, supporting over 80 wetland plant species.

Gaynor Swamp is a cane grass wetland situated on paleosaline soils: soils formed from historic oceans. The wetland supports thousands of waterbirds including brolga and intermediate egrets when wet. Gaynor Swamp has a higher salt concentration than other wetlands in the region and it attracts a different suite of feeding waterbirds as it draws down. One of the most significant species that feeds on exposed mudflats at Gaynor Swamp is the red-necked avocet.

Loch Garry incorporates an old channel of the Goulburn River that provides deep, open-water habitat. The channel is surrounded by shallow, vegetated wetland depressions, red gum forest and sand ridges. It is an important site for waterbird feeding and roosting, and it is a drought refuge for eastern great egrets, musk ducks, nankeen night herons and royal spoonbills.

Kanyapella Basin is a shallow freshwater marsh that provides habitat for numerous plant and animal species including the threatened intermediate egret. Historically, it has been a popular breeding site for ibis, heron and cormorants.

Horseshoe Lagoon, a former channel of the Goulburn River, comprises vegetation mainly of tall marsh, floodway pond herbland and floodplain streamside woodland.

Traditional Owner cultural values and uses

Goulburn Broken CMA sought input from Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Taungurung Land and Waters Council during the development of environmental watering plans for the Goulburn wetlands. Both groups have indicated that they support the watering action priorities planned for the year ahead and will continue to work with the CMA to implement these actions while exploring further opportunities to support their cultural values.

Waterway managers are seeking opportunities to support increased participation of Traditional Owners in environmental water planning and management. Where Traditional Owners are more deeply involved in the planning and/or delivery of environmental flows for a particular site, their contribution is acknowledged in Table 1 with an icon.

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Watering planned and/or delivered in partnership with Traditional Owners to support Aboriginal cultural values and uses

Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation has been involved in planning for environmental watering at Kanyapella Basin and Loch Garry, including participating in the development of environmental water management plans for the sites. Kanyapella Basin, Loch Garry and the surrounding catchment have a long history of Traditional Owner occupation by the Yorta Yorta Peoples.

Kanyapella Basin particularly plays an important role in Yorta Yorta cultural and spiritual heritage. Kanyapella Basin may be partially filled in winter or spring 2020, supporting cultural values such as knowledge sharing and food and medicinal plants. Loch Garry watering is planned for autumn 2021.

Taungurung Land and Waters Council and Goulburn Broken CMA are planning to repeat the environmental watering of Horseshoe Lagoon in winter 2020, following the first delivery of environmental water to the site in winter 2019. This was celebrated by the Taungurung women as it is a significant site and the best example of working together to protect cultural values and towards healing Country. The Taungurung water knowledge group, Baan Ganalina, have worked closely with Goulburn Broken CMA, the VEWH and other partners to bring water back to the lagoon to restore habitats and see the birds and other animals return to the site. Taungurung Land and Waters Council also participated in the development of the Environmental Water Management Plan for the site in 2019.

Social, recreational and economic values and uses

In planning the potential watering actions in Table 1, Goulburn Broken CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including recreation and amenity (such as walking, photography and birdwatching).

Recent conditions

The Goulburn catchment has observed persistent dry conditions over the past few years, with 2019–20 no exception. Annual rainfall was well below average for the region for most of the year, except for a very wet autumn with above-average rainfall, which provided suitable conditions to enable watering actions and also provided natural inflows as supplements. Temperatures throughout most of the year were above the long-term average. The drier conditions resulted in increased evaporation rates for storages and wetlands alike, but water availability was good due to carryover and 80 percent allocation to high-reliability water shares in the Goulburn system.

Environmental water was delivered to Horseshoe Lagoon for the first time in winter 2019, to partially fill the wetland before drying over summer. The wetland vegetation responded well to the watering with both the rare river swamp wallaby grass and veiled fringe sedge detected during monitoring; waterbirds and turtles were also observed at the lagoon.

The timing of a planned autumn 2020 fill of Reedy Swamp was moved to spring 2019 to build on a rainfall event that partially filled the wetland. The wetland provided a muchneeded refuge in the region over a very dry summer, with waterbird and woodland bird species recorded including glossy ibis, Australasian shoveler, Latham’s snipe, freckled duck and the first record of crimson chats at the site.

Autumn 2020 saw two wetland watering events delivered, assisted by the above-average rainfall observed in late April/ early May. The river-red-gum-dominated Doctors Swamp was filled in May 2020. The first environmental watering of Loch Garry was trialled and achieved a partial

As always, planned watering actions were adaptively managed in 2019–20. The changed timing of delivery to Reedy Swamp optimised environmental outcomes and drought refuge by responding to natural conditions in spring, while the first trial delivery to Loch Garry delivered around half of the planned volume due to a slower delivery rate than expected. Gaynor Swamp was not actively watered in 2019–20 to allow it to dry, to reduce exotic vegetation cover at the site. Now the dry phase has been completed, a spring watering in 2020–21 is planned.

Scope of environmental planning

Table 1 Potential environmental watering actions and objectives for the Goulburn wetlands

Potential environmental watering action

Functional watering objective

Environmental objectives

Doctors Swamp (top up or fill in spring)

  • Promote vegetation growth
  • Provide feeding and roosting habitat for waterbirds
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Gaynor Swamp (partial fill in spring)

  • Promote vegetation growth, particularly southern cane grass
  • Provide breeding and feeding habitat for waterbirds, in particular for brolga
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Horseshoe Lagoon (fill in winter)

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  • Maintain wetland vegetation communities by supporting growth and recruitment
  • Promote the growth of river swamp wallaby grass
  • Provide habitat for turtle and frog populations
Frog iconTurtle iconPlant iconBird icon

Kanyapella Basin (partial fill in spring)

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  • Promote different vegetation communities to establish
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Loch Garry (partial fill in autumn)

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  • Promote the growth and germination of native wetland vegetation communities, particularly wetland fringes
  • Provide feeding and breeding habitat for waterbirds
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Reedy Swamp (fill in autumn)

  • Reduce the growth of exotic plants
  • Maintain native wetland vegetation
  • Provide a refuge and feeding and breeding habitat for waterbirds
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Table 2 shows the partners and stakeholder organisations that Goulburn Broken CMA engaged when preparing the Goulburn River and Goulburn wetlands seasonal watering proposal.

Seasonal watering proposals are informed by longer-term regional catchment strategies, regional waterway strategies, environmental flow studies, water management plans and other studies. These incorporate a range of environmental, cultural, social and economic perspectives and longerterm integrated catchment and waterway management objectives. For further details, refer to the Goulburn Broken Regional Catchment Strategy and Goulburn Broken Waterway Strategy.

Table 2 Partners and stakeholders engaged in developing the Goulburn system seasonal watering proposal

Partner and stakeholder engagement
  • BirdLife Australia – Murray Goulburn
  • Goulburn Murray Landcare Network
  • Kinnairds Wetland Advisory Committee
  • Turtles Australia
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Land Manger, Environmental Water)
  • Goulburn-Murray Water (River Operations Planning, Diversions)
  • Greater Shepparton City Council
  • Moira Shire Council
  • Parks Victoria
  • Landholders
  • Trellys Fishing and Hunting
  • Field and Game
  • Goulburn Broken Wetlands Technical Reference Group (Waters Edge Consulting, Rakali Consulting, staff of Arthur Rylah Institute, from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
  • Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation
  • Taungurung Land & Waters Council

Page last updated: 22/01/21