|All eyes on the Wimmera|
People from right across Australia had their eyes firmly set on the Wimmera as two television programs went to air in May.
And Wimmera CMA board member and local personality Darryl Argall was front and centre talking about the things he loves – the Wimmera River and his regional community.
The Wimmera River at Dimboola was the focus of a film shoot by popular Channel 7 television program Coxy’s Big Break. Geoff ‘Coxy’ Cox and his production crew were in the Wimmera as part a flood recovery special to air in the next two months.
Wimmera Catchment Management Authority board member Darryl Argall and Michael Jensz from the Department of Sustainability and Environment gave Geoff ‘Coxy’ Cox a first-hand look at how the river is recovering from years of drought followed by floods.
Mr Argall, a CMA board member since 2000, said he had emphasised to Coxy how important the return of water was for the Wimmera environment and community.
“The Wimmera River is looking pretty amazing at the moment, especially if track back a couple of years when it was completely dry from just north of Horsham,” Mr Argall said.
“When water first returned to towns like Dimboola and Jeparit a couple of years ago it was an amazing sight to see people walking along the dry river bed watching the water trickle back in. Since then we’ve had more rain and of course floods, which have done a fair bit of damage, but we’re recovering from that and we’re seeing the fish returning, the birds come back and people spend their weekends like they used to – out on their ski boats, fishing boats, canoes or just on the banks of the river having fun. And it’s also great to see all the local rowing clubs and fishing clubs back in action.”
Mr Argall said platypus used to live at Horseshoe Bend near Dimboola, where much of the filming took place. In the 1970s people would catch yabbies in the river. “We had a great day with Coxy and his crew – it was a wonderful opportunity for us to show off what’s so special about the Wimmera River,” he said.
“It’s no secret that I love the river because I’ve spent my whole life enjoying it, and I was pretty rapt to be able to show Coxy around.
"We didn’t catch any fish, and Coxy tangled my line, but we had a bit of fun. They were happy as pigs in straw by the time they were finished.”
“To get on the telly is worth millions. You can’t buy that time.”
Michael Jensz, who was Wimmera CMA water monitoring officer for two years before moving to Melbourne where he is DSE manager for Strategic Environmental Water Delivery, said it was important to remember the challenges of trying to maintain a healthy river system during the past 15 years.
“The river’s future is now more secure with completion of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline along with a return to more average rainfall across the catchment. Water savings from the pipeline are being returned to the environment through environmental water releases that are helping keep salinity levels low, connecting pools and restoring habitat lost during the drought.”