Werribee River and Local Biodiversity

It is crucial that the Werribee River Volcanic Gorge be retained in a natural form, it is an important natural habitat for flora and fauna
It is also of major importance as a biodiversity corridor as it;

  • provides links to remaining local grassy woodlands, such as Pinkerton Forest, Bush's Paddock, the Strathtulloh and Exford Woodlands and to the large woodland remnant at Eynesbury and the Exford Reserve,
  • prevents these separate woodland remnants from becoming isolated & biologically unviable "islands" surrounded by a sea of cleared agricultural land and low biodiversity.
  • Linked to Toolern Creek.
  • Perhaps in the future a biodiversity link to Long Forest Mallee & Lerderderg Gorge (following the course of the Werribee River via the large volcanic gorge that encloses the Melton Reservoir) could be considered.

Werribee River

The success of environmental restoration at Pinkerton Forest & Bush’s Paddock suggests that the same restoration philosophy be adopted for the Werribee River frontage. The over-riding philosophy of restoration is to restore a functioning ecosystem. The aim is to restore the environment where natural regeneration will take place and not to rely simply on planting trees. The objective is to restore all Riverine Environment Vegetation Classes, which will be self sustaining. Rather than create a park-like environment that will require continual maintenance mulching and tidying and continued additional planting.

This should be achieved by:

  • encouragement of natural regeneration,
  • strategic weed control being the initial response to ‘kickstart’ the process of natural regeneration,
  • complementary revegetation,
  • Community Education.


Community Education

The restoration works have been greatly assisted by the teachers and students from Mowbray College, led by Ivan Moore and Melton Christian College, led by Ron Fink. Not only have they done the major planting work, but have followed through with watering, mulching, seed collecting and cleaning up assorted rubbish along the river banks and at Exford Reserve. Various community groups have enjoyed a walk along the River Gorge, Friends of Toolern Creek, Werribee River Association, Melton Bushwalking Group and representatives from the Australian Plant Society Melton and Bacchus Marsh Group.




Melbourne Water is continuing works in the Werribee Gorge by supporting Western
Water and PLEG in following up on previous rehabilitation works through maintenance
and making our way downstream.  Concentrating on weeds that impact on the
natural environment, encouraging natural regeneration of native species and
complimenting works by replacing introduced species with native vegetation based on
EVC Stream Bank Shrubland (Ecological Vegetation Class 851).

Melbourne Water continues to offer assistance to landholders in the region with
contributions to ongoing weed control and revegetation in areas along waterways
through the Stream Frontage Management Program and Community Grants.

The Stream Frontage Management Program is a grants program that supports the
rehabilitation of stream frontage on rural land (privately owned or licensed Crown
Land). The program supports revegetation, weed control, fencing and off stream
stock watering and supports the landholder through all stages of their project
including ongoing maintenance.  The Community Grants program supports groups
who work on waterways through public land for similar biodiversity outcomes.

It is an exciting time for Werribee River restoration in overall health and biodiversity
with the announcement of Environmental Flows which will see about 3 billion litres of
water returned to the Werribee River.  The entitlement will improve the
environmental values and health of the Werribee River and its tributaries by legally
entitling the river to 10 per cent of the inflows into Lake Merrimu.  This is a great
outcome for the river which is a centre for social and recreational activities and is
recognised as a river of very high regional significance.