Several environmental projects are complete, enhancing the Cann River’s ecosystems and improving the health of the floodplain.

Maintenance work has involved ongoing weed control, revegetation, and condition monitoring along the river. These efforts will ensure the continuation of good river health while also strengthening partnerships with the local community.

The Cann River Landcare Group has been tirelessly working on an area within the Cann River Caravan Park. Their efforts have transformed the river access into a great spot for locals and visitors. However, recent high rainfall events caused some erosion to the improved area. The group is now busy restoring the area, with their work nearing completion.

In addition to this, the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is undertaking maintenance work on a rock structure within the riverbed, just downstream of the Landcare Group’s site. This structure, crucial for managing riverbed stability is now back in action, providing the necessary support for native vegetation to establish naturally along the riverbanks.

Moogji Aboriginal Council have also been busy controlling weeds along many sections of the river as well as planting native plants in areas to increase plant diversity.

East Gippsland CMA CEO, Bec Hemming, emphasised the importance of these partnerships, stating, “Partnerships with Aboriginal groups, landholders and community play a vital role in improving waterway health into the future.”

Funding for these projects is part of the Victorian Government’s $248 million investment into improving the health of waterways and catchments in regional Victoria.

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) recently hosted some environmental tours on the Wallagaraugh River, offering community members an opportunity to learn about waterway health in the Far East and the various projects the East Gippsland CMA is involved in.

The tours, aboard the Gypsy Princess, departed from the confluence of the Genoa and Wallagaraugh Rivers at Gipsy Point. Participants travelled upstream, passing private properties, and entering the lush, intact forested areas of the upper Wallagaraugh River.

Exceptional conditions allowed the community to reach the most upstream point of the Wallagaraugh River accessible by boat. Here, participants were treated to the sight of a lush rainforest where freshwater spills over a set of rapids.

Over the course of both days more than 25 species of birds were observed. Bryce Watts-Parker from the East Gippsland CMA provided insights into the local flora and fauna, bushfire recovery efforts, and the history of the area.

Great feedback was received from participants commenting that they thoroughly enjoyed their day out on the river.

Bec Hemming, CEO of the East Gippsland CMA said “We would like to thank all community members for their enthusiasm and interest in the boat tours.”

“The success of these tours underscores the importance of community engagement in preserving and understanding our precious waterways.”

Tours like this are made possible with Bushfire Recovery funds from the Victorian Government.

Locals were treated to an evening cruise on the Tambo River on a very warm evening to learn about river health.

Hosted by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA), the time spent on the boat offered insights into current river health projects being undertaken along the river.

Throughout the cruise, people engaged in discussions, gaining firsthand knowledge from East Gippsland CMA staff about factors influencing river health, including the history of the river, current bank stabilisation work, and the value of fencing off the riverbanks and planting native vegetation to protect the banks from erosion.

As the boat ventured towards the mouth of the Tambo and Jones’ Bay, discussions turned to the Gippsland Lakes and the programs underway to improve the health of the Lakes.

“Bringing people together and closer to where the work is happening gives them a better understanding of what the CMA and partners are doing to improve the health of our waterways.” Said East Gippsland CMA’s CEO, Bec Hemming.

“Our staff are keen to talk to people in our community and answer any questions. These boat tours offer that face-to-face interaction, which we think is important in keeping people informed and hearing from the community about their own knowledge.”

The East Gippsland CMA and partners have undertaken many types of projects on the Tambo River, including installing fish habitats, fencing, weed control and bank stabilisation projects. Tours like this are made possible with Bushfire Recovery funds from the Victorian Government.

Watch this Buchan River Fishway video to hear about the construction of the Buchan River Fishway.

A leader in innovative river management has been recognised for 25 years making East Gippsland’s rivers healthier and its communities more resilient.

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) congratulates long-time employee Rex Candy for being awarded the Public Service Medal in the Australia Day 2024 Honours List (Meritorious Awards) for his contributions to waterway management.

After graduating from the University of Melbourne Rex commenced his career with the (former) State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, before bringing his passion for rivers and engineering together as a river engineering consultant. And for the past 25 years, Rex has led the change in waterway management practices during his career with the East Gippsland CMA.

He has strongly advocated for a new approach to river restoration and has been instrumental in a change that has made our rivers healthier.

This has included flood and bushfire recovery, providing technical assessments on flood behaviour, and leading the stabilisation of rivers across the state. Highlights of his work include programs to rehabilitate the Snowy, Genoa and Cann Rivers in East Gippsland.

A standout example is the work Rex did after major flooding in the Cann River in 1998. The flood worsened erosion which had seen the river channel expand by up to four times its original width. The local community and landholders were at a loss as to how to deal with the damage and what to do next.
As the Operations Manager for the East Gippsland CMA, Rex led engagement with the traumatised community to propose new ideas, change the way things had been done, and work together to improve the situation.

Rex rallied landholders along the Cann River, securing their commitment to help set the river on a new recovery trajectory. These efforts included stabilising the bed and channel of the river and addressing the deepening and widening of the river channel.

Rock and timber structures were introduced to slow water, encourage sediment deposition, and reduce further deepening of the riverbed. Additionally, fencing was installed along the floodplain to exclude stock from the river, while native vegetation was restored to facilitate natural recovery processes.

After 25 years, the health of the Cann River is improving. A continuous native vegetation corridor extends along the entire river. The river is functioning as a natural river system once again.

When the 2019/20 black summer fires swept through the Cann Valley, engulfing forests surrounding the township, the river was a blessing for the community. It was a place for them to feel safe, and the water was also relied on as a critical water source for fire suppression.

The rivers of Gippsland wouldn’t be what they are today without Rex’s expertise. His achievements and successes over the past 25 years are evident in the health and ongoing rehabilitation efforts in the Cann, Snowy and Genoa Rivers.

In retirement, Rex remains a key technical expert in river health and floodplain management. He is still called upon to provide his skills and knowledge to complex expert panels, hearings and recovery efforts following impacts and disasters, such as major flooding and landscape scale bushfires.

Rex Candy, passing on his knowledge of river health
Rex Candy, passing on his knowledge of river health

Passionate individuals from the community joined local agencies last week to discuss a shared commitment to the conservation of Magees Gully.

Magees Gully, nestled in the heart of Bairnsdale, flows into Macleod Morass near the Bairnsdale Livestock Exchange, forming part of the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar listed waterway. This environment is a crucial habitat for endangered waterbirds and wildlife.

The rain must have received the invitation to the community event too, as it poured down just as 32 people gathered to walk through the gully and talk about the area’s future.

Representatives from many local community groups attended including local Landcare groups, Friends of Gippsland Lakes, BirdLife, joining several agencies including East Gippsland Shire Council, East Gippsland Water, East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, Trust for Nature and Parks Victoria.

After seeking shelter inside, the group shared many ideas for environmental improvement to the waterway, including weed control and water quality testing.

Bec Hemming, CEO of the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority said, “It was great to see such a good turnout for this community event, demonstrating the shared dedication to improving our local waterways.”

Ongoing work on Magees Gully is essential as it captures much of the stormwater from Bairnsdale’s urban landscape, flowing directly into MacLeod Morass and the Gippsland Lakes.

Enhancing and cleaning up natural waterways like Magees Gully will help lower the nutrient load that flows into the Gippsland Lakes.

Magees Gully Comunity Event participants - a good turnout despite the rain
Magees Gully Community Event participants – a good turnout despite the rain

Members from local angling clubs and community groups discovered the underwater goings-on of fish habitat in their local waterways.

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) hosted a boat tour as a show and tell for people to learn more about the reason behind the fish habitat we have been installing over the last 15 years.

East Gippsland CMA Chief Executive Officer Bec Hemming said, “Over the years, numerous methods for creating fish habitat have been used. Natural materials have been used to create fish habitat using local timber including logs and root balls to mimic an underwater haven for fish.”

“Most recently, 32 structures were introduced to Jones Bay in the Gippsland Lakes. These structures consist of root balls and stumps that have been lying in farmers paddocks for years. Rather than pile them up and burn them, landholders have agreed to let the East Gippsland CMA use them as fish habitat.” Added Bec

Increasing underwater habitat is beneficial and provides shelter and food sources for native fish. Aquatic invertebrates also benefit from this underwater structure, as do other species that rely on these invertebrates and fish as a food source.

Recreational fishing enthusiasts reap the benefits of abundant fish populations, making fishing more enjoyable and rewarding. This project, made possible with funds raised through Recreational Fishing Licence fees, benefits fish populations and angling opportunities.

It has been a joint effort over the years, with the Victorian Fisheries Authority, angling clubs, community groups and agencies working together to improve our waterways for native fish.

Nothing sparks curiosity and understanding in children quite like the touch and feel of real wildlife.

Last week, the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) teamed up with Black Snake Productions on a roadshow of biodiversity presentations to local East Gippsland primary schools from Bairnsdale to Mallacoota.

East Gippsland CMA chief executive Bec Hemming said, “Catchment Connections is teaching students about biodiversity and the connection of what they can do as a school group or individually to contribute to the health of our waterways.”

“By incorporating live encounters with native wildlife, this initiative aims to instil an understanding of our catchment’s delicate balance while keeping the learning experience engaging and hands-on for the students.”

Our young environmentalists got up close and personal with some Australian native animals to help them discover the importance of our catchments and the vital role the students themselves can play.

Black Snake Productions brought along a selection of native animals that call East Gippsland home. Students were able to see and interact with common species such as the Gippsland Water Dragon, Blue Tongued Lizards and a Fruit Bat, less common species including a Bandicoot and the Green and Golden Bell Frog, as well as some of our more endangered species such as the Diamond Python and the Spotted Quoll.

Students learnt about the work agencies like the East Gippsland CMA and other organisations and volunteer groups do to improve the health of our local waterways. There are many Victorians already out there, on the ground, doing important work to protect and enhance Victoria’s vital waterways.

The schools were encouraged to undertake their own environmental projects following the presentation, including building frog hotels, building a native garden or having a clean-up day.

This roadshow was made possible with funding from the Victorian Government’s $248 million investment over four years (2020-2024) to improve the health of waterways and catchments across regional Victoria.

Bairnsdale Joey Scouts combined fun and conservation in an exciting activity to support local frog species.

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority visited the Joey Scouts group to show them how to build a frog hotel.

They built a frog hotel, played leapfrog, and learnt about the frogs of East Gippsland, including our endangered species, the Growling Grass Frog.

The frog hotels that the Joeys built will give frogs a safe and comfortable place to take refuge during drier times.

It is great to involve young people in activities like this. They learnt about native species, their habitat and conservation, all whilst having a wonderful time.

Whilst many are busy with veggies this time of year, we are planting seagrass!

Zostera mulleri is the species we are trialling in an underwater garden patch in the Gippsland Lakes.
Harvesting rhizomes (sections including roots) from areas where the seagrass is growing nicely, we created seagrass kebabs and planted them in areas where the grass is sparse.

We will be watching closely over the next 6 months to see how our little garden grows.

Seagrass is such an important species to the health of the lakes and all the critters that rely on it for food and shelter, we are hoping we can help restore it in some areas.

This collaborative project is made possible through funding from the Gippsland Lakes Love our Lakes program.

Seagrass meadows are a critical component of the ecological character of the Gippsland Lake Ramsar site. This is why it is important we understand how effective our management strategies are in protecting and rejuvenating seagrass populations now and into the future.

EGCMA staff preparing seagrass trial sites.
EGCMA staff preparing sea grass for trial sites.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout East Gippsland and pay our respects to them, their culture and their Elders past and present.