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Restoring Mt Cole Creek

Help us enhance and protect habitat for all the creatures that call Mt Cole Creek home

The Mt Cole Creek was once a healthy ecosystem, supporting a number of threatened species like Platypus, River Black Fish, Mountain Galaxias and Pigmy Perch. Recollections of local people include tales of fishermen travelling to the area to catch Black Fish from the creek that would flow for most of the year. In one lifetime, we have lost these iconic residents due to erosion damage, weeds, and declining water levels as a result of drought and reduced flows from Mt Cole reservoir. Fortunately, Mount Cole Creek does still support several native fish species and the threatened Western Swap Crayfish. These species need our help now!

The project aims to restore and protect important habitat along Mount Cole Creek for native fish and the threatened western swamp crayfish.

“It was once a thriving creek. Platypus, blackfish, water birds, water rats, the whole lot. It was really a special place.”

Mark McKew - Board Secretary and Crowlands / Warrak Landcare Member

The site

The Mt Cole Creek (MCC) is a semi permanent waterway that flows from the Mt Cole forest through a largely cleared agricultural landscape to join the Wimmera River which flows into the terminal lake system of Lake Hindmarsh and the RAMSAR listed Lake Albacutya. The creek is well vegetated along a lot of its length with mature Red Gum trees occupying good sections of the banks. Species diversity is lacking due to most of the creek being open to grazing over the course of European history with a lot of the companion species for EVC Creekline Grassy Woodland grazed out long ago. The frame work of a healthy ecosystem is still there; but we must enhance and protect the remaining habitat to ensure the native species still calling the creek home can flourish.

Mt Cole Creek passing just west of the township of Warrak
Mt Cole Creek passing just west of the township of Warrak

What we are doing

The project will seek to improve habitat values along the MCC through erosion control works to decrease erosion / sedimentation of deep refuge pools, invasive plant and animal control to decrease competition / predation and revegetation works to improve habitat, connectivity and soil stability.

Repairing erosion damage:

A key damaging process for the creek's health is soil erosion as a result of agriculture and rabbits causing sediments to flow into the creek, filling in habitat pools and reducing water quality. The project will seek to address soil erosion through fencing stock out of erosion prone areas, rabbit control and revegetation along shore lines to improve soil stability. Reducing sedimentation will keep the water healthy and ensure deeper holes will remain just that; deep summer time refuges for aquatic species that depend on these areas for their summertime survival.

Community engagement:

Community support for the rejuvenation of the creek is very high in the local and regional community. The Crowlands-Warrak landcare group is a very active group and have been actively lobbying regional water authorities and government in the past few years to allow environmental releases of water from the Mt Cole storage to improve the health of the Mt Cole creek. To ensure we can achieve this goal, the project will focusing on rallying the community to lobby together.

Funding Acknowledgements

Murray-Darling Healthy Rivers Program: Small Grants

Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

Project partners