Wildlife Rescue with Winton Wetlands

Media Release | 15 April 2019

The Friends of Winton Wetlands recently organised a ‘Wildlife Rescue info with Clean Up Day’ event which delivered information and knowledge on how to help injured wildlife, presented by Shirley Steegstra from Benalla Wildlife Rescue. An active effort to clean up the Winton Wetlands site was also a part of the day.

Winton Wetlands and the Friends would like to thank all those who attended the event and Shirley for her time and the wonderful work she does. Shirley has provided some basic information about what to do if you come across injured wildlife.

What to do if you find injured wildlife

If you find an injured native animal or bird, pick the animal up using a towel or blanket and place it in a cardboard box that is also line with a towel. Ensure you have put some ventilation holes in the box first. Place the box securely in your car, not in the boot as exhaust fumes can kill the animal. If you do not have access to immediate assistance, keep the animal in a warm, dark place and keep noise to a minimum to avoid stressing the animal. Please do not offer the animal any food and water as native animals have very specialised diets and feeding an animal that is in shock can be fatal. Take the animal to your nearest vet or contact your local wildlife rescue organisation. Vet clinics and rescue organisations do not charge to accept wildlife.

Please remember that some animals do not require rescuing. For example, some baby birds are left for a short time while the parents forage for food.

If you find a kangaroo, wallaby, possum or koala that has been injured be sure to check the pouch for young. If ever in doubt, ring your local wildlife organisation for assistance.

Becoming a wildlife rescuer

Wildlife Shelter Operator Authorisations are for experienced wildlife carers who have the expertise and facilities to house a range of wildlife in need of care, including those with complex requirements.

Foster Carer Authorisations are for those who wish to learn wildlife rehabilitation. Foster Carers are authorised under the Wildlife Shelter Operators so that people new to wildlife rehabilitation can gain experience and guidance in the care and treatments of native wildlife.

Wildlife rehabilitation is rewarding but is time demanding and can be physically and emotionally demanding. It requires a range of skills such as safely capturing and handling distressed wildlife, administering first-aid (sometimes performing euthanasia) and providing appropriate food and enclosures.  All this must be done in a way that doesn’t stress the animals and maintains their natural behaviours to allow a successful life in the wild after release.

If you are interested, DEWLP recommends that you volunteer with an experienced authorised shelter prior to applying for a Foster Carer Authorisation.

Find more information at www.wildlife.vic.gov.au

Download this media release in PDF format

Science Forum

5th Annual Restoration Science Forum

15th and 16th August 2019


The theme for the 2019 event is ‘Connecting People with Nature’. This theme emphasises the role of nature in both ecosystem health and human health.

We are interested in both the restoration stories and how these have helped connect people with nature.

We are planning to feature talks and workshops examining the role of nature and ecosystem restoration in providing opportunities for connection with nature, such as walking, canoeing or cycling in nature, volunteering in restoration projects and citizen science and the impacts these can have on wellbeing, health and mental health of participants.

Our keynote speakers include:

Professor Pierre Horwitz from Edith Cowan University, who is currently a Professor in the School of Natural Sciences. With research interests in wetland ecosystems, health and sustainability, he is involved in research on environmental management projects in Australia, the South Pacific and South-East Asia, aiming to better understand, and address, the social and environmental determinants of human health and well-being. Pierre was a member of the Ramsar International Convention on Wetlands’ Scientific and Technical Review Panel (2009-2015), where he is providing detailed input and coordination for the Convention’s theme on Wetlands and Human Health. As an example of Pierre’s work, a recent article published by The Conversation illustrates “how urban bushland improves our health and why planners need to listen”.

Yvonne Taura (Ngāiterangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Uenuku, Ngāti Hauā) is a Māori researcher for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research (crown research institute), in Hamilton, NZ. Her research interests are working collaboratively with iwi (tribes) and hapū (sub-tribes) on various projects that implement kaupapa Māori (Māori methodological) approaches and processes. Yvonne is a co-editor of Te Reo o Te Repo, a wetland handbook that focuses on Māori values and aspirations for wetland restoration. Yvonne is a PhD candidate at the University of Waikato (Hamilton, NZ), her topic explores empowering iwi and hapū to utilise mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) based science tools and frameworks in restoration and monitoring, in order to enact their kaitiakitanga (guardianship) responsibilities.

Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman is a descendant of three iwi (tribes) affiliated with the Whanganui River on her mum’s side – Te Atihaunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Apa and Ngāti Rangi. Thanks to her Dad, she also descends from Breda in the Netherlands.
She is freelance contractor/advisor working mainly with iwi (tribes) and hapū (sub-tribes) in the areas of restoration science and environmental planning. More recently, she has finally been able to do her dream job of working for her own river and her people. She has interests in environmental science – particularly ethnobotany, wetland restoration and mātauranga taiao (cultural environmental-ecological knowledge), biosecurity and the training and development of tribal members working at the ‘flaxroots’. Her most recent work has focused on wetlands and the sharing of narratives from the indigenous people who give these spaces their unique voices. Cheri’s presentation at this year’s Forum is titled ‘When the River can’t find her happy place – why wetlands are more that just ‘wetlands’ for a truly healthy Te Awa Tupua.’

Jennie Schopfer-Bons studied Biological Sciences in the 1980s in a variety of Science related jobs both in Australia and overseas. (Zoology – Latrobe University & Zurich Univeristy). Jennie is currently an Early Childhood teachers in a stand alone community kindergarten. Her Science studies, nature pedgogy training and personal history influence her teaching and pedagogy. Jennie recently complete a Master thesis research project that was titled: ‘What are early childhood educators pedagogical beliefs for including a Bush Kinder element to their program?’

Dr Rebecca Patrick, the Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Co-lead of the Health Nature Sustainability Research Group at Deakin University and Vice President of the Climate and Health Alliance. In this talk, Dr Rebecca Patrick (Co-lead of the research group) will take you on a guided tour of some of the evidence they, along with partner organisations, have generated. Highlights will include research on: improving natural environments and human health by enhancing the delivery of environmental volunteering programs; the health benefits and associated economic value of parks and park use; evaluating community health interventions that promote human health and sustainability; and mental and spiritual health benefits of contact with nature. The talk will land on ‘what does this evidence mean for wetlands initiatives?’.

Mark Bachmann, Nature Glenelg Trust

Nature Glenelg Trust has now engaged community volunteer help in wetland restoration works at many sites in south-eastern Australia on public and private land. Beyond the obvious practical assistance provided for the construction of geo-fabric sandbag weirs, which was our main initial intention, we have since discovered and observed a range of other benefits and incidental spin-offs as a result of this approach to wetland restoration – for both the participants and the communities they represent. This presentation will explore a range of situations where volunteers have assisted Nature Glenelg Trust with wetland restoration works in Victoria and South Australia, and examine the ecological and sociological outcomes of this hands-on and inclusive approach to wetland restoration project delivery.



Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation Welcome to Country
Dr Dennis O’Brien, Chair, Winton Wetlands Welcome & Introduction to Winton Wetlands
Prof Pierre Horwitz, Edith Cowan University The multifaceted relationships between wetlands, conservation action, and human health
Michael Johnson, Moonlit Sanctuary Moonlit Sanctuary: Connecting People to Nature
Yvonne Taura & Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman Te Reo o Te Repo –The Voice of the Wetland, a cultural wetland handbook
Friends of Winton Wetlands Friends of Winton Wetlands connecting people to nature – Past, Present & Future
Winton Wetlands Staff and Committee Restoration Update – Winton Wetlands Reserve
Jennie Schopfer Role of nature play in early childhood learning
Pat Feehan, Birdlife Murray-Goulburn BLMG Winton Wetlands Bird Monitoring Review
Martin Potts, Greening Australia The Cultural Story of Lake Wellington
Mark Bachmann,Nature Glenelg Trust Exploring the immense value of community volunteer involvement in wetland restoration trials


The 2019 Forum will offer an excellent opportunity to hear speakers from a range of organisations and provide a platform for people to speak about their own projects, nominate their own selection of speakers and get involved in new activities as part of the Forum. There will also be opportunities to view other activities happening on-site such as the indigenous cultural trail, landscape art installations and cycling trails to name a few.


Download a PDF version of the Science Forum Program here.

Wall-to-Wall at Winton Wetlands

1 April 2019

The Wall-to-Wall festival is nearly upon us and Winton Wetlands will host one of this year’s featured murals. The staff and volunteers at Winton Wetlands and the Mokoan Hub & Café are very excited to welcome renowned street artist Andrew J Bourke (Sirum) to the wetlands this weekend to turn the main interior café wall into an eco-inspired masterpiece, capturing the ecological essence of the site.

With a deep curiosity for the natural world, Andrew’s work is inspired by the energy and beauty that is found within nature. “Since I was a child, I have found myself curious of the natural world … Drawn to the smallest of details, I look to find the space in-between” said Andrew.

This passion for detail is seen in Andrew’s finely observed graphic work, and his deft use of colour. Having refined his craft over many years as an urban artist, Andrew moves between the mediums of aerosol, house paint, charcoal and acrylics with considerable skill. His work is distinctive for its rich and vibrant colour, technically accurate, fast, free-flowing line, and ambition of scale.

Andrew’s mural work can be seen around the streets of his hometown Melbourne, and throughout much of the Australia thanks to his extensive travels in search of inspiration. It is his love for “country” that has led to Andrew’s passion for photography, a further extension of his creativity and often becoming a source of reference that flows back into his work.

Many of Andrew’s artworks can be seen around Benalla including the ‘Kelly Snake’ at Fruits N Fare and Ned Kelly at Rambling Rose. Like these murals, the café wall will reflect its surroundings and feature two local threatened species; a Growling Grass Frog and a Tree Goanna.

While the painting is taking place, the Mokoan Hub & Café will remain open (9am-5pm), continuing their wonderful customer service and serving a delicious menu. A range of options will be available including vegan and vegetarian as well as gluten and dairy-free meals as well.

The Wall-to-Wall event hosted at the Mokoan Hub & Café is a must-see event and will require bookings for a table. Please contact 0429 423 659 or cafe.manager@wintonwetlands.org.au.

World Wetlands Day 2019 – 2 February

‘Wetlands and Climate Change’ is the theme of this year’s World Wetlands day, celebrated on Saturday 2 February.

The theme draws attention to the vital role of wetlands as a natural solution to cope with climate change.

Wetlands are the world’s most valuable ecosystems. They play a pivotal role in reaching global policies on climate change, sustainable development, biodiversity and disaster risk reduction.

Wetland reserves efficiently reduce the effects of climate change by absorbing and storing carbon, reducing flood effects, and providing relief from droughts and reduction of storm surges.

Wetlands support native species by providing excellent habitation for living and breeding, which leads to a range of positive environmental effects.

Alongside the monumental environmental benefits that wetlands provide, they also play an important role in tourism and the cultural and spiritual well-being of people.

At Winton Wetlands, our team of staff and volunteers and the Friends of Winton Wetlands are leading one of the world’s most significant renewal projects.

The Winton Wetlands project aims to:

  • restore the ecology of the swamps and ancient dunes
  • enable traditional owners to connect or reconnect with the site
  • attract tourists and help reconnect and immerse people with the natural world
  • demonstrate how primary production and ecological restoration can work together
  • provide an invaluable education resource and study site.

The higher the level of restoration of Winton Wetlands, the larger contribution the wetlands can return to the environment and the regional population.

Through the restoration and conservation of ecosystems like Winton Wetlands we provide a brighter future to the people of today and those to come after us.

Find out more about World Wetlands Day at WorldWetlandsDay.org

World Wetlands Day 2019


These Drying Times

In these drying times it can be difficult to see that wetland sites, like Winton Wetlands, provide vital, productive environments.

Cradling biological diversity, the wetlands provide the perfect setting for countless species of plants and animals to survive and thrive. Drying wetlands are a natural phenomenon. In fact, in those wetlands that do regularly dry out, it is an essential process. Australian wetlands have evolved to exploit the boom and bust of our seasons.

Drying also ensures the wetlands spring back into life at the next filling event by:

  • supporting large numbers of water birds
  • allowing the nutrients that have built up in the wet phase to be processed and reduced
  • guaranteeing the mudflat plants to sprout and become established on the floor of the wetlands, binding the soil
  • providing habitat for many animals and insects, including water bugs (invertebrates) who lay dormant eggs in preparation for the next wet.

But it is what happens below the surface that goes unnoticed.

“Winton Wetlands currently has water held in the Mokoan Ponds along the Dam Wall, which are supporting many water plants, water birds, fish and yabbies all year ’round” said Lance Lloyd, Aquatic Ecologist at Winton Wetlands.

Under the water, the native fish are growing with the warm conditions and the waterbirds are feeding on the yabbies, invertebrates and water plants. Small mammals and reptiles are flourishing under the grass cover – feeding and growing, out of the hot sun, and the insects are burrowing and aerating the soil, creating a balanced and diverse ecosystem.

“Wetlands are biological supermarkets, providing great volumes of food for many animal species. These animals use places like Winton Wetlands in their life-cycles.”

“Plant leaves and stems breakdown as water subsides, creating small particles of organic material called detritus. This enriched material feeds waterbugs, shellfish and small fish that are food for larger predatory fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals”

During this dry period, Winton Wetlands are:

  • unwavering in their efforts to reduce European Carp populations
  • revegetating the wetlands to replace the woodlands, grasslands and reed beds to provide shade and habitat
  • undertaking works on the wetlands that we can only do in the dry, like managing drainage and maintaining tracks and
  • preparing the site for when the next wet period arrives

Wetlands also provide a blend of shallow water, high levels of nutrients and primary productivity – ideal for the development of organisms that form the base of the food web and carbon cycle.

“Wetlands store carbon within their plant communities and soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Thus, wetlands help to moderate global climate conditions.”

Functioning as natural sponges, wetlands trap and slowly release surface water, rain and flood waters. Trees, root mats and other wetland vegetation also slow the speed of flood waters and distribute them more slowly over the wetlands. This combined water storage and braking action reduces erosion and lowers flood heights, albeit hard to imagine significant and prolonged rainfall in current conditions.

Image: Lesley Ricker

One giant leap…

An important aspect of the restoration of Winton Wetlands is the re-establishment of native species local to the Wetlands. The availability of hollows as shelter and nesting sites for threatened tree-dwelling mammal species is vital to their persistence and movement through the landscape.

Through the ‘That’s One Giant Leap’ project, funded by the Victorian State Government, the Friends of Winton Wetlands have been able to involve the community in very meaningful and innovative restoration activities at Winton Wetlands. Since 2014, over 100 nest boxes have been installed to provide supplementary habitat for tree-dwelling mammals, including the Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) and the Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa.)

Since then, various activity of a range of species has been recorded within the nest boxes demonstrating the success of the project. Winton Wetlands and the Friends of Winton Wetlands are most pleased to confirm the recorded sighting of one of the two targeted species being the Squirrel Glider.

“Finding a Squirrel Glider using our nest boxes is the highlight of the Friends four-year nest box program so far. This and finding several families of young Yellow-footed Antechinus in an area previously populated with poor nesting hollows, provides the incentive to continue the program. We hope to extend the chain of nest boxes to continue encouraging wildlife to utilise the entire Wetlands and to create links to nearby woodland.  Well done to all those who have participated in construction, installation and monitoring,” said Geoff Barrow, Friends of Winton Wetlands volunteer and nest box monitoring manager.

Not only is this the first record of a Squirrel Glider since the onset of the project but also the first ever recorded sighting at the Winton Wetlands site, marking it as a very exciting and special event.

The 2019 Friends of Winton Wetlands membership applications are now open and available instore at the Mokoan Hub & Café.


Fish hotels – Need a place to put your fins up?

Media Release: 13 December 2018

In restoring Winton Wetlands, we need to provide habitat for plants and animals that has previously been lost. In the long term, new vegetation will provide a range of vital habitats for fish and other organisms. However, establishing vegetation which will then provide woody debris to the ecosystem is a lengthy process.

Fish hotels at Winton Wetlands

The Winton Wetlands Committee of Management together with the Friends of Winton Wetlands are creating ‘fish hotels’ as a quick way to restore aquatic habitat for our threatened fish species, including the iconic Murray Cod.

Two types of fish hotels are being used:

  • Hollow logs – sustainably sourced from road and pipeline clearance projects.
  • Constructed fish hotels – made from smaller logs and locally sourced from fallen timber.

Wood surfaces attract food for fish

“The surfaces of the wood provide an excellent place for algae and other biofilms to grow, attracting shrimp and other crustaceans which are a major food source for fish. Further, Murray Cod and other fish love to use the surfaces of the wood to lay their eggs,” said Lance Lloyd, Restoration Scientist at Winton Wetlands.

“These fish hotels will provide great fish habitat and allow aquatic species, including the threatened Murray Cod, to survive”.

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Fish hotels waiting to be installed at the Duck Pond - Image by Lance Lloyd
Fish hotels waiting to be installed at the Duck Pond – Image by Lance Lloyd

Growling Grass Frog – will we hear them growl again?

30 November 2018

Frogs are a vital part of our ecosystem and are great indicators of the success of our restoration efforts. Frogs add to our biodiversity and are an important part of the food chain for birds, snakes and fish.

“One species that has been lost from our site and also regionally is the Growling Grass Frog (Litoria raniformis), and we are looking into how we can reintroduce the species back to the reserve,” said Dr Lisa Farnsworth, Restoration Ecologist at Winton Wetlands.

In a project supported by the Wettenhall Environment Trust, Winton Wetlands staff and volunteers are embarking on an innovative plan that aims to re-establish the charismatic Growling Grass Frogs on the reserve. Key project activities include:

  • Monitoring frog calls (collected by citizen scientists) through acoustic recording, to remotely identify species.
  • Researching the feasibility of reintroducing the species including testing for appropriate water quality, water temperature and vegetation cover
  • Habitat enhancement appropriate to the species requirements
  • Analysis to determine the extent of chytrid fungus on the reserve (an infectious disease that affects amphibians worldwide)

“We are improving frog habitat through revegetation and the addition of rocks to allow Growling Grass Frogs to bask in the sun and to limit the spread of chytrid fungus”.

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Why did the turtle cross the road?

Tuesday 23 October

Winton Wetlands is fortunate to play host to some interesting ‘heroes in half-shells’ including the Eastern Long-necked turtle (Chelodina longicollis) and Murray River turtle (Emydura macquarii). Turtles love to use the edges of the Wetland’s swamps for laying eggs and are known to travel between expanses of water which provide their food resources.

“We are seeing turtles almost on a daily basis at the moment around the Wetlands”, said Lance Lloyd, Restoration Scientist at Winton Wetlands.

“We’ve seen an abundance of turtles crossing Lake Mokoan Road and they’ve even been visiting the Mokoan Hub and Café and our glamping site near the boat ramp”.

These four-legged friends contribute to the diversity of fauna represented at the Wetlands and are the subject of ongoing restoration and monitoring, including that being conducted by the Friends of Winton Wetlands who use an online mapping database, TurtleSAT, to log their findings.

Fingers are tightly crossed in the hope of finding the locally-extinct Broad-shelled turtle (Chelodina expansa), but the focus is on conservation efforts across all species.

For visitors to the area and beyond, there are a few ways to help your local turtle populations, including recording sightings using databases like TurtleSAT and lending a helping hand to turtles taking the treacherous journey across roadways.

Turtles travel to seek out healthy habitats, food and water. Keep the following tips in mind if you see a turtle crossing the road:

  • Be cautious of your own safety by checking where you stop your car and being aware of other vehicles travelling on the roadway
  • Take a quiet, low and slow approach towards the turtle to prevent distress
  • Pick the turtle up firmly by the shell edges, keeping it low to the ground
  • Move the turtle off the road making sure to keep it facing the way it was walking to continue on its travels!

Media Contact: Tanya McAlpin
03 5766 4462, 0414 266 960

Calendar Art Competition

$100 vouchers up for grabs, as well as the chance to have the artwork featured in the 2019 Winton Wetlands calendar
Simply enter the Winton Wetlands Calendar Art Competition

Twelve winners will be chosen based on their merit and creativity by the Winton Wetlands Calendar Competition Committee. These winning artworks will be featured in the 2019 Winton Wetland Calendar, with all funds raised from the sale of the calendar going to the Friends of Winton Wetlands restoration work.

This competition is open to children of primary school age and living in Australia.

Competition closing date: 5pm, Monday 12 November 2018

The Competition Committee is looking for bright colours, creativity, good technical skills, use of space and a good story to accompany the submission. Each winning artist will receive a $100 voucher.

Image: Henley Public School 2018 Calendar

Competition Requirements

Entrants must provide their full name, age, school name and grade and a parent/guardian’s contact phone number.
Artwork should be landscape, A4 size and accompanied by 25 words or less addressing one of the themes mentioned below:

  • Birds – The rare Regent Honeyeater is among the nearly 200 bird species identified across our diverse ecosystems.
  • Wildlife – Our site is perfect for encountering kangaroos, echidnas and even tiny antechinus.
  • Pest Animals – Winton Wetlands is unfortunately home to some pest species whose effect is damaging to our restoration efforts.
  • Insects – Important to our food webs and ongoing regeneration, insects are also vital to growth and balance.
  • Habitat – Native plants and a healthy environment provide safe homes for our birds and wildlife.
  • Threatened/Endangered Species – Winton Wetlands is home to 11 nationally listed endangered species.

Mail Submission

Artwork no smaller than A4 can be sent via post or be delivered in person to:
Winton Wetlands – Calendar Art Competition
652 Lake Mokoan Road
Chesney Vale VIC 3725


Artwork can also be submitted electronically to info@wintonwetlands.org.auand should be at high resolution (suggested 300dpi), landscape, A4 size, bright and clear. The original image must be available to be sent if required by the Competition Committee.

At Winton Wetlands we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

The promoter is Winton Wetlands, ABN 53 224 268 294
The promotion commences at 9am on Monday 15 October and closes at 5pm on Monday 12 November 2018.
The competition is open to primary school children who are residents of Australia.
Permission of a parent or a guardian to enter the competition is required as the winning images will be featured in the 2019 Winton Wetlands calendar, on the Winton Wetlands website, facebook page and in any other Winton Wetlands marketing material.
Employees of Winton Wetlands or their family members are not permitted to enter the competition.
Any entries received after the closing date will not be eligible to enter the competition.
Entrants can only submit 1 entry into the competition.
The total value of all 12 prizes is $1200. This consists of 12 x $100 vouchers.
The competition winners will be chosen by the Winton Wetlands Calendar Competition Committee and all winners will be notified by either email or phone call by Friday 23 November 2018.
If the winners cannot be contacted or do not claim their prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
Winton Wetlands reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice.
Winton Wetlands will only use any personal details for administration of the competition.