And what a treat it was – the forest is looking absolutely stunning after the inundation it received last summer. The flood waters have mostly receded, leaving the ground coated in a layer of fertilizing mud and a delightful (to my nose anyway) aroma of drying earth and fecundity. The River Red Gums have benefited greatly from the drink and are flush with new growth. The Barmah Lakes are full and the river itself still has water in it above the steady flow of irrigation delivery – it actually looks like the ‘Mighty Murray’ of days gone by. And there were plenty of birds around – although I didn’t get far enough into the forest to find any breeding sites, I saw a large flock of Rufous night herons while a stately Pacific Heron fished in a billabong and spoonbills paddled through the wetlands.
All of this shows just how important a decent flood is maintaining the health of our unique Red Gum forests and wetlands. Travelling around northern Victoria, there’s still plenty of evidence of the damage done to the upper parts of the floodplain that even last summer’s floods couldn’t reach. And this year’s flood was the first natural inundation since the early 1990s… what will happen if we have to wait another 20 years for the next one?
If you’d like the chance to experience the thrill of Barmah Forest yourself, come along on our Murray bus tour on Friday 21 October. You’ll get the chance to canoe through the forest and enjoy its beauty from the water. You’ll also get to hear about what needs to be done to make sure our Red Gum forests have enough water in the future, and how you can help secure their long term health. Sounds good doesn’t it! Sign up now