Rivers of Warrnambool Flagship Project

This $1.02m Flagship Waterways project on the waterways in and around Warrnambool will be delivered over four years.

Project works will protect and rehabilitate instream, riparian, wetland and estuarine values of the lower reaches of the Hopkins and Merri Rivers and the Brucknell and Deep Creeks in urban, semi-urban and rural areas.

Key project outputs

  • This $1.02m Flagship Water project will be delivered over four years and is funded by the Victorian State Government through the Waterway Health Funding program
  • The project will be delivered collaboratively by Glenelg Hopkins CMA alongside Eastern Maar Traditional Owners, like-minded groups, organisations, and the community.
  • The project will benefit social and recreational users of the rivers, which are important to tourists and residents for a diverse range of recreational activities including fishing, boating and walking and are dominant amenity features of the Warrnambool landscape, with the city nestled between the two estuaries. Recreational Angling is an important activity associated with both the Merri and Hopkins rivers, and members of both Ozfish and VRfish participate as members of the Merri Alliance. The project includes a specific focus on working with anglers to restore fish habitat via the Angler Partnership Program.
  • This project supports landholders and the community by providing technical and financial support to rural and semi-rural landholders to improve the condition of riparian zones and water quality through revegetation, fencing and weed control.

Launch of the project: February 2022

Parliamentary Secretary for Water Harriet Shing was in Warrnambool launching two projects – the Rivers of Warrnambool Flagship Project and the Merri Connections Project – which are a significant investment by the Victorian Government in the waterways of south-west Victoria being delivered by Glenelg Hopkins CMA in February, 2022. 

Parliamentary Secretary for Water Harriet Shing was in Warrnambool launching two projects – the Rivers of Warrnambool Flagship Project and the Merri Connections Project – which are a significant investment by the Victorian Government in the waterways of south-west Victoria being delivered by Glenelg Hopkins CMA in February, 2022. 

Pictured at the launch are (from left) Glenelg Hopkins CMA CEO Adam Bester; Parliamentary Secretary for Water, Harriet Shing; Warrnambool City Council CEO Peter Schneider; and Wannon Water Managing Director, Andrew Jeffers.

The launch was held at Platypus Park in Warrnambool on the bank of the Merri River on Tuesday, February 15, 2022.

The launch had a casual attendance of community group representatives. Eastern Maar Elder, Uncle Rob Lowe began the event with welcome to country and smoking ceremony. Joined by the public with local dog walkers, fishermen and kids paddling in their kayaks on the Merri river, it was a great day to be launching these exciting projects.

See details of the launch

Project background

The Rivers of Warrnambool Flagship Waterway project will protect and rehabilitate instream, riparian, wetland and estuarine values of the lower reaches of the Hopkins and Merri Rivers and the Brucknell and Deep Creeks.

The project will address the Water for Victoria long term goal of improving waterway health by targeting the lower reaches of the Hopkins River (one of 36 large scale priority projects in the Water for Victoria) and the Merri River (a priority under the GHCMA RWS). These reaches support complex and diverse in-stream aquatic ecosystems, two EPBC listed ecological communities and extensive social and recreational values.

The Rivers of Warrnambool Flagship Waterway project will protect and rehabilitate instream, riparian, wetland and estuarine values of the lower reaches of the Hopkins and Merri Rivers. The project will address the Water for Victoria long term goal of improving waterway health by targeting the lower reaches of the Hopkins River (one of 36 large scale priority projects in the Water for Victoria) and the Merri River (a priority under the GHCMA RWS). These reaches support complex and diverse in-stream aquatic ecosystems, two EPBC listed ecological communities and extensive social and recreational values.

It will commence a long term (30+ yr) approach to Flagship Waterway restoration for the Rivers of Warrnambool – the Merri and Hopkins rivers. The rivers, their estuaries and associated wetlands support diverse native fish assemblages, platypus, waterbirds, good quality instream vegetation and nationally listed species and ecological communities.

The project will build the foundation for the long-term flagship waterway restoration approach and aims to support the community’s general aspirations to restore the river’s riparian zones and natural values, to connect habitats and to connect people with the rivers.

The two rivers also feature a range of values that are important to the Traditional owners, including ancient fish traps, the Hopkins Falls and the Moyjil archaeological site. They are traditional sources of resources, meeting places and natural boundaries. The rivers are important recreational and amenity assets of the city of Warrnambool and are popular with recreational anglers and boaters.

The Rivers of Warrnambool project will include working with rural landholders to improve riverbank regeneration and excluding livestock from waterways.

The project includes works on waterways within urban, rural and semi-rural landscapes. Works will include priority riparian, wetland and estuarine waterways supporting a wide range of ecological, cultural and social values and uses. The project will build on works started in the EC4 Merri Restoration Project, a key activity is continuing to work with developers and the Warrnambool City Council to identify riparian buffer zones to be put aside as greenspace, allowing for the control of access and reestablishment of native vegetation.

Wetland restoration activities will focus on improving the condition and function of important connected remnant wetland habitats (supporting the EPBC listed Coastal Saltmarsh community) of the South Merri Wetland complex (Kelly Swamp, Saltwater Swamp) and other wetlands of the floodplains. In the long term the Flagship Waterway approach will focus on continuous and connected riparian habitats buffering healthy waterways which are valued by the local community.

What else are we doing on the waterways?

Want to know more about what we are doing in and around the waterways of Warrnambool?

Click on the links below to see what other projects we have happening:

Learn about the Bromfield Street Weir removal project

Learn about the fish habitat project in the Hopkins River

Learn about the works already completed on the Merri River