The Mullinmur Wetland, on the Lower Ovens is a 3.73ha freshwater marsh. The wetland is a billabong (old channel) which is recharged with water from the Ovens River. The wetland is on land owned by the Catholic Church – Sandhurst Diocese andis used and managed by the Local Catholic schools in partnership with the Wangaratta Sustainability Network (WSN).
The North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA), with the WSN have established the billabong as a ‘wetland demonstration site’, to show the importance of appropriately managed wetlands in the North East CMA regional landscape. The project also aims to assist schools and the WSN educate students and the community on the important ecological functions that wetlands provide.
Management plan development
Through funds from the Victorian Government’s Our Catchment, Our Community (OCOC) strategy and the Environmental Water Community Education (EWCE) project, the CMA, in conjunction with the WSN, Galen College, Borinya and other partners, developed a Management Plan for the site to guide the direction, and implementation of works at the wetland.
Under the Management plan, OCOC funds have been used for a number of activities to improve the ecological condition, and monitoring of the site, and best utilise the site to promote community education opportunities.
Revegetation efforts have focused on creating a constructed wetland to assist filtering stormwater, and weed control has also been undertaken.
Introduced carp numbers have been decreased and to increase biodiversity of native wetland fish species, Victorian Fisheries, the Arthur Rylah Institute, North East CMA and the WSN are exploring the options to introduce Catfish into the wetland to be used as brood stock, or a population that could be used to re-stock the Lower Ovens. The wetland has abundant instream habitat (snags) and has been deemed a suitable location for the species.
A watering action is proposed for 2019/2020 from Victoria’s Environmental Water Allocation to top up the wetland over summer to support aquatic vegetation and suitable water height and quality to support native fish. To inform future watering activities, the CMA has installed 2 water height gauges to monitor the water regime and how it corresponds to river levels in the Ovens River.
Community monitoring is also encouraged through the creation of ‘Photopoints’, where visitors are encouraged to photograph the sites, and record their images via Instagram with the hashtag #mullinmurbillabongs. By keeping a photographic record, the visual history of the changes can be observed.
Through the collaborative efforts of a number of stakeholders, it is hoped that Mullinmur Wetland can become a site where others can learn how wetlands function and the importance of wetlands in our landscape for both the terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals that rely on flood dependent habitat.