Media Releases | 2nd Dec, 2008

Community speaks up for a Healthy Gellibrand River

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

A range of local voices have declared the need to protect the Gellibrand River so that it continues to play a vital role in the lives of the Otway Ranges and Western District communities, a study released today has shown.

The study, Your River: the Gellibrand River, was carried out by Environment Victoria and profiles a range of people who live, work and play in Gellibrand catchment.

Leonie Duncan, Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers Campaigner, said the study revealed how a diverse range people throughout the Gellibrand catchment recognise the need to speak up for the river system they love and depend on and who take practical action to care for its health.

“The Gellibrand is considered to be one of the State’s more healthy rivers. It flows through impressive pockets of native forest in the upper catchment and nourishes the habitat of Victoria’s best population of River Blackfish – a very popular catch for anglers,” Ms Duncan said.

“But increasing extractions for urban and rural use are placing major pressure on the river. Water supplies for Warrnambool, Colac and many other towns in the Western District are all sourced from the Gellibrand, yet not everyone realises the pressure their water use has on this important river and the life it supports.

“Many people who live in the Gellibrand catchment are worried by the loss of wetlands in the upper reaches and fish deaths in the estuary caused by low river flows. But there is reason to hope for the future as more and more people become aware of the need to take care of this precious waterway.”

Story-tellers include:

  • Camp manager and EstuaryWatch volunteer Matt Bowker who teaches visiting school kids about the Gellibrand River at their family-run outdoor education centre, Kangaroobie.
  • Upper Gellibrand social worker Marina Lewis who has a particular passion for the wildlife that inhabits her bush property; including platypus, waterbirds and echidnas.
  • Gellibrand resident Malcolm Gardiner whose life-long passion for the river is now focused on highlighting the impact of increased groundwater use on the region’s once-beautiful wetlands.
  • Princetown Landcare President Yvonne Lawson who learnt to swim in the Gellibrand as a child and whose family have farmed by its waters for generations.
  • Theo Barlow, a 73 year old dairy farmer who says the lower Gellibrand is a shadow of its former glory and that his forefathers would be shocked by its current condition.
  • Chapple Vale wooden furniture designer and organic farmer Chris Tipler who would love to see more city people reconnect with the land and understand the source of our food and water.