The Upper Murrumbidgee River has stunning gorges, waterfalls and stretches of river, as well as being home to some special fish. Through our Rivers of Carbon Upper Murrumbidgee River Rehabilitation project we have been connecting the Bredbo and Colinton Gorges by working with landholders in the Bumbalong Valley to fence, weed, stabilise riverbanks and revegetate with native plants. On Sunday the 25th of June we got the local community together with scientists and river manager professionals to share the work we have been doing and to hear from those involved. Watch our film and read our blog about the day to find out more…
We were delighted to have 50 people attend this event, and we met in the Colinton Rural Fire Station to hear from Prue McGuffie, a Macquarie Perch specialist who talked about the work she has done paddling up and down the river to learn more about the spawning habits and requirements of this threatened fish. It turns out Macquarie Perch are very discerning – they need clear shallow riffles in which to lay their eggs, and have a few favourite spots in the Upper Bidgee they like to congregate. Interestingly, they move during low flows, but rely on high flows to keep riffles clean, boost food webs and enable egg dispersion.
Prue’s talk was followed by Antia, our local project coordinator who talked about the amazing amount of work and effort local landholders have done to remove willows, blackberries and stabilise riverbanks to restore the riparian area in the Bumbalong Valley. The hope is that this work , over time, will connect the Bredbo and Colinton gorges and enable our native fish to expand their range.
Following Antia we had a real treat, with two local landholders, Kim Templeton and Helen Shimitris sharing their stories about being involved in Rivers of Carbon. Kim jokingly referred to ‘pre Antia’ and ‘post Antia’ which led him and wife Helen to widen the strips of trees and shrubs they planted and to focus their efforts on the riverbank to remove weeds and replace with native vegetation. You can see in the image below the shaded areas in green on the slide which shows how Helen and Kim are working to connect up a conservation area at the back of their property with the river – truly inspirational stuff!
After Kim’s talk neighbour Helen Shimitris provided our gathering with a historical overview of the Bumbalong Valley. This was really fascinating and she has some wonderful old photos to show what the originally called ‘Bumbiling Valley’ looked like. We were also fortunate to have the great grand daughter of one of the settlers in the Bumbalong Valley share her memories of living along the river and needing to wait for a boat each day to ferry her across the Bidgee to school. Helen also talked about her belief that we are stewards of our landscape and, as such, have a responsibility to care for and, where possible, improve areas that we have degraded. Helen’s property has a stand of remnant Eucalytus Viminalis, or the Ribbon Gum, and she collects seeds and propagates so we can plant more of this special tree species in the Bumbalong Valley.
After our talks we headed down to the river to see some of the more recent on-ground works we have undertaken. You can see in the photo below the stretch of replanted area – this strip has been cleared of willows and blackberries, and we have also addressed erosion at the site with some bank re-shaping and stabilisation works. We were fortunate in being able to add some wood to the structure to create fish habitat and also redirect flow to hopefully create some deeper holes in this currently sandy stretch of river.