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Wimmera CMA

Street Address:
24 Darlot Street, Horsham, 3400
(enter via Gleed St)

Postal Address:
PO Box 479, Horsham, VIC, 3402
Phone: (03) 5382 1544
Fax: (03) 5382 6076
Email: wcma@wcma.vic.gov.au
 
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Article

Water for The Ranch Billabong

Jan 17, 2019


 
TheRanchBillabongStuartHarradine-Dec2018-360x253NewsStuart at the billabong before watering

Wotjobaluk Peoples will mark the anniversary of their 2005 Native Title Consent Determination by returning water to one of their most culturally significant sites along the Wimmera River.


Barengi Gadjin Land Council and Wotjobaluk Traditional Owners will kick off environmental watering at The Ranch Billabong at Dimboola on Friday December 14.

The activity, supported by Wimmera CMA and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, will involve pumping up to 20 megalitres from the Wimmera River into the billabong and monitoring changes to inform future management of the site. The water is from the Victorian Environmental Water Holder’s Wimmera and Glenelg Rivers water for the environment allocation.

Barengi Gadjin Land Council owns and manages The Ranch Billabong on the western side of the bridge at Dimboola. 

Stuart Harradine, Water Officer at Barengi Gadjin Land Council and a Wotjobaluk Traditional Owner, is looking forward to this step towards restoration of the site and the outcomes that will result. 

“Restoration of the billabong has been something our community has been keen to see for many years,” Stuart said. “Barengi Gadjin Land Council has received funding to help achieve some of its goals for the site such as restoring native plant and animal habitats, and having water is a key part of this.”

Sneezeweed

The watering will lead to an improvement in the abundance of Old Man Weed, also known as Sneezeweed. This native wetland plant is a ‘mudflat’ species that grows once water levels recede and is traditionally important to the Wotjobaluk Peoples for medicinal purposes.

“We are also improving access and knowledge sharing at the site with tracks and interpretative signage,” Stuart said.

The Ranch Billabong area has been home to many generations of Wotjobaluk people, long before European settlement and increasingly after Ebenezer Mission at Antwerp closed. The cultural connection to the site remains and the land was sold to Barengi Gadjin Land Council in 2005. Plans for its management are included in the Growing What is Good Country Plan, Voices of the Wotjobaluk Nations.

Cultural and environmental benefits

“The condition of the billabong has deteriorated significantly.  Red gums are showing signs of stress, water quality is poor and there is a lack of aquatic and fringing plants which provide habitat for fish and bugs,” said Wimmera CMA chief executive David Brennan.

“The watering is expected to improve the health of stressed red gums, encourage re-establishment of plant life and improve water quality.  This is an exciting activity that will have cultural and environmental benefits and is the result of extensive community consultation and planning.”  

Aboriginal Water Program

This project has been funded in part via the state-wide Aboriginal Water Program’s $4.7m fund to better recognise and understand Aboriginal water values, uses and objectives. This project has encouraged and facilitated the water sector to better partner with the Traditional Owners to incorporate their aspirations, rights and interests in water planning, including through shared benefits and using Aboriginal Waterway Assessments. It has also been funded in part by the Victorian Government's record $222 investment into waterway and catchment health. 


Dimboola Ranch Billabong Project