Dewfish Demonstration Reach

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The Dewfish Demonstration Reach is Queensland’s first Native Fish Strategy Demonstration reach. It was established to demonstrate and promote what can be done to achieve a healthy river system for native fish and the greater river catchment.  The reach is managed by a dedicated team at the Condamine Alliance (www.condaminealliance.com.au), who strive to achieve positive outcomes for native fish by engaging the community in improving the health of their river.

The Reach begins in central Dalby, 200 km west of Brisbane, and incorporates parts of Myall Creek, Oakey Creek and the Condamine River, which is the headwaters of the Murray-Darling Basin system. Named after the local dewfish, the Reach began at a modest 28 km but quickly stretched to 110 km due to overwhelming public interest. These waterways run through some of the world’s most productive farming land, nourishing communities and industries along the way.

Condamine Alliance

Condamine headwaters above Killarney
Photo courtesy of Condamine Alliance

Loudon Weir Fishway enabling fish passage up and down the river. Photo courtesy of the Condamine Alliance

Loudon Weir Fishway enabling fish passage up and down the river. Photo courtesy of Condamine Alliance

Over the years, growth and demand have had a significant impact on the river and native fish populations. Large-scale irrigation, agriculture, mining and historical practices have all contributed to the river’s declining health.  The Dewfish Demonstration Reach project’s goal is to restore the river system’s health and increase native fish populations to 60% of pre-European settlement levels by 2050.

Partnerships

Since it was established in 2006, community, government and industry have joined together to help ‘bring back the fish’ and promote the importance of a healthy river system for native fish populations and the greater river catchment. These strong partnerships have attracted $2.80 million of additional co-investment and helped spread the story far and wide throughout the catchment and beyond.

Condamine Alliance

Planting trees along the Condamine River with local council and school children getting involved. Photo courtesy of the Condamine Alliance

The Dewfish Demonstration Reach has actively engaged local schools. Photo courtesy of the Condamine Alliance.

The Dewfish Demonstration Reach has actively engaged local schools. Photo courtesy of the Condamine Alliance.

In 2012, the project received national recognition by winning three major environmental awards:  the Australian Riverprize, the Banksia Award for Water and the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award for Biodiversity. Some of the achievements of the Dewfish Demonstration Reach to date include:
  • Increased native fish numbers including golden perch by 1000%, carp gudgeon by 600%, dewfish by 300% and bony bream by 200%.
  • Native fish species in Myall Creek at Dalby increased from four to eight.
  • Contributed to the return of Hyrtl’s catfish for the first time in 15 years.
  • Recorded the dwarf flat-headed gudgeon 100 km above previously known range.
  • Upgraded the Loudoun Weir fishway which has improved fish passage by up to 155 km.
  • Rock ramp fishway at Wainui Crossing completed and commenced works on Munro Crossing fishway, which will improve fish passage throughout the reach.
  • Installed fish habitat (snags, logjams and lunker) at eight sections along the reach.
  • Planted more than 13000 native trees and plants for streambank stability and erosion control.
  • Erected off-stream watering points on five sections of Oakey Creek to reduce livestock impact on the creek banks.
  • Removed more than 4500 kg of pest fish.
  • Completed biodiversity surveys of Myall Creek, Loudoun Weir Pool and Oakey Creek.
  • Joined forces with local schools to develop educational programs on riparian land management and propagation of aquatic vegetation for restoration works.
  • Installed the Dewfish Reach Talking Circle on the bank of Myall Creek in partnership with international artist and the local Aboriginal community.
  • Involved local fish stockers in kreel surveys to monitor native fish populations and educate fellow anglers about the dangers of translocating pest fish.
  • Established the Reach steering committee with representatives from local and state government, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Condamine Alliance and local landholders.
  • Received 3638 volunteer days’ worth $1.32 million.
  • Erected 60 km of permanent fencing valued at $250 000 to help protect the Reach’s waterways.
  • Seven continuous years of monitoring and evaluation for the benefits of the on ground actions.
  • New research into small fish habitat preferences, irrigation offtakes, recycled fish habitats including cod hotels, cod holes, lunkers and aquatic vegetation.
The Dewfish Demonstration Reach is an ongoing project and current activities include:
Cod hole. Photo courtesy of the Condamine Alliance.

Cod hole. Photo courtesy of the Condamine Alliance.

The Aboriginal Talking Circle, a valuable cultural connection between river and people. Photo courtesy of the Condamine Alliance.

The Aboriginal Talking Circle, a valuable cultural connection between river and people. Photo courtesy of the Condamine Alliance.

  • The installation of lunkers to demonstrate best practice urban river restoration for erosion protection and restoring the health of Myall Creek through Dalby township in partnership with Western Downs Regional and the local community.
  • Ongoing maintenance of Loudoun Weir Fishway to optimise fish passage and aid in the recovery of native fish populations.
  • Fish habitat diversity will be restored in Loudoun Weir pool through the use of recycled materials to construct ‘fish hotels’ and ‘cod holes’. These structures will improve river health and the native fish carrying capacity of the weir pool by introducing shelter and food webs.
  • Continued improvement of riparian vegetation along the Reach will provide a healthy riparian zone and buffer the river from surrounding land use. Trees reduce water temperatures with shading and prevent erosion. Overhanging branches also contribute food and debris for native fish.
  • Propagation of aquatic vegetation for small fish habitat will continue.
  • Irrigation pumps will be surveyed and screened in two stages. Stage 1 will involve surveying pumps in the Reach to identify type, quantity, usage and off-take volumes. Stage 2 will involve netting the pump outlets and reviewing which fish get caught to determine the most vulnerable species and size classes.
  • Carp traps will be purchased and distributed to community groups who are involved in ongoing carp management.
  • Carp fishing days will continue as a way to engage the local community about the threats of pest fish, river restoration and river health.
The award winning Dewfish Demonstration Reach is proof that rivers can be successfully rehabilitated. Its outstanding success is due to strong science, rigorous planning, meaningful onground works and importantly, a passionate and dedicated effort from people across government, industry and community. Organisations involved include:

Government

•   Murray-Darling Basin Authority
•  Queensland Government
•  Western Downs Regional Council
•  Toowoomba Regional Council
•  Queensland Rail

 Industry

•  Arrow Energy
•  Conics
•  Cramer Engineering
•  Cycle Plant
•  GHD
•  Goolburri Regional Housing Company
•  Kerwee Pastoral Company
•  Landloch Pty Ltd
•  Nortask Pty Ltd
•  North Australian Pastoral Company
•  Notomys Seeds Pty Ltd
•  Ostwald Bros
•  Peabody Energy
•  Powerlink
•  Rural Health
•  SMEC Australia Pty Ltd
•  Struanville Farming Company
•  University of Southern Queensland
•  World Wildlife Fund

Community

• Aboriginal community
• Aubigny Landcare Group
• Bowenville State School
• Our Lady of the Southern Cross College
• Dalby South State School
• Condamine Emeritus Science Group
• Conservation Volunteers Australia
• Dalby Apex Club
• Dalby Chamber of Commerce
•  Dalby Community Welcoming Committee
•  Friends of Myall Creek
•  Goondir Health Service

•  Landholders
•  Myall Youth and Community Network Centre
•  North East Downs Landcare Group
•  Oakey Freshwater Fish Stocking Association
•  Oakey Urban Landcare Group
•  Young Women’s Christian Association
•  Downs Industry Schools Co-op (DISCO)
•  Dalby Scouts

For more information about the Dewfish Demonstration Reach please visit Finterest.

A Richer Condamine

A Richer Condamine – Article in RipRap Magazine

‘A Richer Condamine’ – article in RipRap Magazine Edition 37 – Rivers of Carbon, Rivers of Life.


Our address

GPS:
-27.18697719, 151.26294496
office@condaminealliance.com.au
Web:
http://www.condaminealliance.com.au

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