The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) has been working with the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation and local landholders to improve the condition of the Mitchell River Catchment and preserve Gunaikurnai cultural heritage.
On the banks of the Upper Mitchell, 800m of willows has been removed and the banks will be planted with native trees and shrubs to reduce erosion, improve riverbank stability and promote biodiversity. GLaWAC Cultural Heritage Officers Nicky Moffat and Paula Martin visited the site when the initial works got underway to identify the nature of any Aboriginal cultural heritage findings although none were ultimately unearthed.
“Working in partnership with GLaWAC before work starts helps ensure that our activity does not disturb areas of cultural importance.” noted Graeme Dear, CEO of the EGCMA.
Murray Gibbs is more familiar than most with the changing face of the Wonnangatta River. A fifth generation farmer he’s seen first hand what nature can do, especially to the 10 km of river frontage that runs through his property. “When a flood comes down it just rushes on through” says Murray.
“The Pinnacles reach 5,000ft and there’s not much between them and me so it’s a fairly big roof. It’s got a large gable on it so the water rushes down and then it’s gone in 24 hours.” Gone but not forgotten leaving a path of debris along the riverfront paddocks.
“The 2007 flood was a particularly big one but the river flats have always been a changing thing and they always will be when you get those big ones.”
Murray has spent the last decade working alongside the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) to help reduce flood damage to his properties. By using rock to stabilise the river bank and replanting several hundred metres of his frontage, the river bank has become more resilient to the forces of nature. Fencing ensures that his cattle are off the river allowing the plants to take hold and grow and help to manage his stock.
“It makes the farm management quite easy, the rocking has had a good effect and the tree’s are taking well so I think this is working.” he says.