action-story | 17th Feb, 2012

Royce Dickson: former school principal who helped form the Shepparton-Mooroopna Urban Landcare Group

ActionStory_Royce Story“I formed the urban group here, we’ve been going five years. I’d been on the river health and water quality committee of the CMA as a community representative and learnt a fair bit about the ecology of the river and so forth.

It sparked an interest, there seemed to me to be a need here in the city for an urban group. Our landcare interest is in protecting and enhancing the health of the river and we want to see regular flows to help that process. We’ve had a look at the Basin Plan. We’ve studied the plan the original one and the new one. Again you can only work on the figures in terms of the size of the take, 2,750. We feel there is a need for those freshes particularly to come down the river.

When we get a fresh or a flow down the Goulburn River, within the municipality of Shepparton, we see active platypus families in the river and it’s pretty common. There are plenty of turtles here as well.

Reedy swamp is a significant breeding area actually. And it’s a major ibis rookery and you’ve got your nest boxes for birds, squirrel gliders, all that sort of stuff. This is the newly proclaimed Lower Goulburn National Park. Here is a good example of a wetland that responds very quickly to an environmental flow. This has been very much part of our area, Parks Victoria, of course, the managers of it. We’ve done a lot of planting and have been trying to reintroduce the Murray pine, and some little ones up here are doing quite well.

You could walk across Reedy Swamp during the drought, but there’s been an explosion of bird life since. Those rushes you see are the nesting sites for the ibis. When the ecology here is working well they grow and the ibis bend them over on the top and that’s the nesting sites for the ibis. They’ve counted over 2,000 nests here when things are really strong. One of the features here is the flight of the ibis. At day break thousands of them go out to the east, and of an evening they all come back in the big V’s. It’s a whole range of aquatic bird life here, we even had a white sea eagle nesting, they’re pretty rare this far inland and we’ve got two or three pairs of wedge tailed eagles. Nature photographers come here in droves. One bloke from Queensland comes out and he sits out there for a fortnight on a log and just takes photographs.

The other thing of course is the movement of fish. A number of fish ladders of course have been built on the Murray and also the Goulburn, and here in Shepparton we’ve got a significant one because it’s built just out of rock, it’s not a mechanical fish ladder, so the cod and what have you can move up the river significantly, whereas before they were stopped here because of the barrier.”

By Ian Kenins, Environment Victoria, February 2012