Solar Project Proposal

Benefits for the development of a Solar Farm on Winton Wetlands

One of the biggest challenges we face today as a society is climate change and the risks are not only affecting us locally but on a global scale. If we are to combat this challenge, then we must work together towards a better and cleaner future.

The global challenge set by climate change demands to be met head on with responsive and effective action. Winton Wetlands is investigating the way to a more sustainable future, and a solar farm will prove to be a huge step forward for the vision. This means that we can guarantee a clean and renewable source of green energy for the local community while simultaneously minimising our impact on the environment.

Most of the electricity supplied to Victorian households comes from coal fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley. Due to the well-publicised environmental, health and safety concerns, these power stations are gradually being shut down. To cope with the potential shortfalls caused by these closures, new forms of cleaner energy sources are urgently needed.

European countries, including Germany and the UK, have switched to 100% renewable energy. In line with Australia’s renewable energy targets, the Victorian government is targeting for 50% of energy usage to be from renewable energy by 2030.

The Winton Wetlands proposed solar farm is a solid step in the right direction in mitigating climate change effects, as it will ensure that thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases are avoided each year. It will also bring empowerment and economic sustainability to the Winton Wetlands and the local community. 

Where “Grey’s” matter _ Winton Wetlands home to Victoria’s smallest skink

An important aspect of the restoration of Winton Wetlands is enhancing biodiversity which can be achieved by protecting and reintroducing native species. To select the best course of action, having sound knowledge about the site and its wildlife is vital to plan and implement effective strategies.

Throughout September the team of staff and volunteers a Winton Wetlands carried out extensive surveys to help determine the presence of a range of reptile species at the reserve.

Winton Wetlands volunteer Rod Sherlock and Dr Lisa Farnsworth checking survey sites.

“If we don’t know it’s there, we can’t adequately protect it- our long term survey results will help guide our management objectives on the reserve and ensure that our strategies meet the requirements of multiple species, including our local reptiles,” said Dr Lisa Farnsworth who lead the survey program.

The surveys were conducted over a period of three weeks and included 32 sites across the reserve which were check twice daily. Each site consists of two pitfall lines with funnel traps- a traditional reptile survey technique.  Each site also had 18 roofing tiles, four bark covers, and two sheets of iron laid out, all of which are materials that provide attractive artificial habitat for reptiles.

Constructing the sites using artificial habitat is an important aspect of ensuring that natural habitat is not disturbed when checking the sites.

Overall, 4608 tiles were flipped, 576 bark covers were checked, 900 pitfall buckets were checked, 1280 funnel traps checked, and 256 sheets of iron flipped.

Despite some unfortunate cold weather, 11 different reptile species and 4 different frog species were recorded. The most significant records were Grey’s Skink (Menetia Greyi) at Humphries Hill and Dwyer’s Snake (Parasuta dwyeri) at Gould’s Hill, both of which have not previously been sited on the reserve. These records will add valuable information to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas and have also increased the coverage of the species known distribution within Victoria.

Other highlights were several Olive Legless Lizards (Delma inornata) at Humphries Hill, Gould’s Hill, and Ashmead’s Road sites and the trapping of over 117 individual frogs. These frog records allowed us to collect over 50 swabs which will contribute to our chytrid fungus prevalence study as a part of the Winton Wetlands Growling Grass Frog Rewilding Project.

Olive Legless Lizard recorded during reptile surveys

Dr Lisa Farnsworth was pleased with the outcome of the first reptile surveys at the Winton Wetlands reserve in over 10 years.

“These surveys highlight the wonderful diversity of reptiles we have living on the reserve and emphasise that Winton Wetlands is a biodiversity asset in the presence and absence of water”

Winton Wetlands would like to thank all those involved for their hard work, especially those who volunteered their time.

A Sudell’s Frog recorded during the reptile surveys in September 2020.

Australia Post Releases Water Tower Art Stamp Issue

There is a level of irony in portraying huge artworks on tiny stamps, but even at a small scale, the impressive nature of these creations is evident. The artworks have become a magnificent symbol of the local people, nature environment, history and industries that were the heart of rural communities. The Winton Wetlands Art Tank, by Guido Van Helten, is one of 74 painted water towers throughout rural Australia and one of the most photographed locations at the Winton Wetlands site.

The Art Tank is now featured in Australia Post’s latest stamp issue – Water Tower Art, released on 7 September 2020, and presented alongside works in:

  • Gulargambone, New South Wales (artist, Jenny McCracken);
  • Narrandera, New South Wales (artists from Apparition Media); and
  • Snowtown, South Australia (artist, Vans the Omega).

The Winton Wetlands Art Tank is a stunning visual acknowledgment of local CFA volunteers which was created during the 2016 Wall-to-Wall Street Art Festival. Prior to commencing the artwork, Van Helten met with members from local Country Fire Authority (CFA) brigades to gain inspiration. The commission saw Van Helten incorporate portraits of three local volunteers, Colin Hooke from Chesney Vale Brigade, Robert Green of Taminick Brigade and Danielle Spokes of Winton Brigade, to create a multi-dimensional tribute. An unexpected but fitting compliment to the contribution of CFA volunteers to the area’s history, landscape and community, this artwork has received national and international acclaim for the striking expression it casts against the backdrop of lifeless river redgums.

While street art may be typically viewed as an urban medium, street art towns, like Benalla, are emerging across Australia. What these large-scale public artworks have in common is that they transform plain expanses, both built and natural, into vibrant and evocative boosts to tourism.

This is the third time that Australia Post have paid homage to the large-scale public murals, with the previous issues featuring Urban Street Art (2017) and Silo Art (2018) which also featured Van Helten’s silo mural in Brim, Victoria – the first silo art in eastern Australia.

Van Helten is among the world’s most prominent public mural artists and his characteristically realist, monochrome portraits can also be found on buildings in Ukraine, Poland, Spain, Belarus, Finland, Italy and America. His style is highly realistic; he often paints from photographs and is inspired by the tradition of documentary style humanist street photography.

The tank can be found in the middle of the wetlands and is part of a separate art trail within the area. Look out for other Winton Wetlands art projects on the site, such as ‘Martins Barge’, the ‘Fish Trees’or take the journey deeper into the site to see Hilda Bain and the Water Gallery.

The water tower art, silo art and rural street art can be explored and appreciated at full size via the Australian Silo Art trail, which coordinates and promotes the artwork tourist trails found across country Australia.

The Water Tower Art stamp issue is available from 7 September 2020, online, at participating Post Offices and via mail order on (1800 331 794), while stocks last.

Photo credit: Australia Post (2020).

Quotes attributable to Annette Green, one of the promoters of the Australian Silo Art Trail

“Silo art is an exciting way of promoting tourism in regional Australia, but it’s not just about the silo art, it’s about our great collection of water towers and regional street art too. With every new location added to our ‘trail’, more towns are linked together, creating an ultimate journey through regional Australia.”

“These artworks are more than just a beautiful addition to the local landscape, for many towns and communities it’s a lifeline. Many regional towns across Australia are struggling due to loss of business infrastructure, drought, bushfires and now COVID-19. Towns that have decided to join the trail are now seeing an increase in tourism, which boosts community income and community spirit”

“The Australian Silo Art Trail is one of this country’s greatest untapped tourism assets. Exposure such as the Water Tower Art stamp issue helps to bring about more public awareness of these great Australian treasures.”
 

Quotes attributable to Dr Dennis O’Brien, Chair, Winton Wetlands Committee of Management

“The Water Tower Art stamp issue is a great way of showcasing Van Helten’s extraordinary artwork.”

“This unlikely canvas is a breathtaking tribute to local people and a must-see for locals and visitors”.

“The Art Tank at Winton Wetlands has brought new life to a vital piece of infrastructure on our site, whilst recognising the phenomenal contribution the CFA makes to our community and social fabric.”

Photo credit: Banner image by RenSmart Photography

Wetlands are the Kidneys of the Landscape

It’s been raining!

As the water runs off the land and into the creeks running into the wetlands, it picks up sediment and the water becomes turbid (muddy). We measure this turbidity with the NTU scale – 1 is a clear water sample and 100 is quite muddy but it can go higher (Lake Mokoan at its worst was up to over 200 NTU).

At our recent water quality testing run, Restoration Scientist, Dr Lisa Farnsworth, discovered first-hand the value of wetlands filtering out sediment and contaminants from water. Water runs into part of the wetlands at 11 Mile Creek and the turbidity was 60 NTU (image 1).

11 Mile Creek turbidity was 60 NTU.

The water then travels through the series of shallow wetlands and into Boggy Bridge Swamp. Lisa measured the turbidity at the point where the water flowed from Boggy Bridge and into Green’s Swamp.  At this point, after being ‘filtered’ by the wetlands, the water was 5 NTU (image 2), the cleanest we have recorded for some time!

This is a great example of the wetlands performing a vital “ecosystem service” of water quality treatment. The wetlands essentially act as the ‘kidneys of the landscape’, filtering and capturing sediment, and helping settle it to the bed of the wetland and the plants use these nutrients to grow which supports the whole ecosystem.

The water then travels through the series of shallow wetlands and into Boggy Bridge Swamp. The water was 5 NTU, the cleanest we have recorded for some time!
The 5 NTU water from Boggy Bridge Swamp.

Just Add Water

Ephemeral wetlands, like Winton Wetlands, dry and fill in a natural cycle following rainfall in the catchments of the creeks which feed the wetlands. The drying phase, now passed, was very important to the wetland ecosystem which resulted in:

  • organisms laying desiccation-resistant stages or eggs, or plants setting seeds as the water dried out;
  • plants being stimulated to colonise the edge and the wetland bed; and
  • nutrients being transformed and preparing the system for next refilling phase.

Now, as the catchment has become soaked, it seems every rain event even high in the catchment away from the wetlands, is sending pulses of water into our smaller wetlands (such as the Ashmeads Swamp, 7 Mile Creek Wetland and 11 Mile Creek Wetland, and others). They are now spilling over into the larger wetlands of Boggy Bridge Swamp and Winton Swamp, even if this isn’t that obvious from the Hub or the main roads.

The much-needed inflows will create new habitat for the wetland by releasing nutrients that stimulate the growth of aquatic flora and fauna. As the water inundates the wetland bed, the eggs of zooplankton and algal spores hatch, and this creates great feeding opportunities for many bird and fish species. The filling wetlands also trigger native fish and waterbird breeding.

It really is the boom time for wetlands and hopefully rain keeps falling to enable a new cycle of life for many wetland creatures across the whole reserve. This is an exciting time for wetland observers to see what plants and animals use the wetlands. It is also an important time for species to become established or abundant within a wetland system. All you need is to “just add water”.

7 Mile Creek Wetland, August 2020 – just after flooding, the terrestrial plants are drowned and will be soon replaced by the aquatic plants flourishing in the centre of the wetland in the photo. Photo credit: John Spencer
Winton Swamp near Lunette, August 2020. Many plants, such as dock shown in the foreground of the image, have underground tubers which will sprout when inundated, providing rapid cover. As flooding gets deeper, true aquatic plants will take over. Photo credit: Chloe Trevena, Winton Wetlands.

Precious Cargo on Board

If you’re following our story of Rewilding the Growling Grass Frog (Litoria raniformis) at Winton Wetlands, we are proud to say the project is well underway!

An essential aspect of this project has been to determine the presence or absence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis – the fungus that causes the detrimental Chytridiomycosis disease in amphibian populations.

Over the course of 18 months, fifty frogs from six different species have been ethically swabbed at Winton Wetlands in order to collect information on the incidence of this fungus. Peron’s Tree Frog (Litoria peronii), Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis), Eastern Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dumerili), Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet (Crinia parinsignifera), Common Eastern Froglet (Crinia signifera) and the Sudell’s Frog (Neobatrachus sudellae) were all located in a range of areas across at the reserve.

Our team was excited to see the complete collection of swabs travel to cesar laboratories at Melbourne University today to undergo DNA analysis which will provide a clear picture of the status of the Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis fungus.

The next component of the project commencing immediately is habitat assessment, and in combination with the DNA results, will help with selecting an appropriate source population of Growling Grass Frogs suitable to Winton Wetlands.

The team at Winton Wetlands would like to thank the Wettenhall Environmental Trust for their support of the Rewilding the Growling Grass Frog project and all the fantastic volunteers who have assisted so far.

Stay tuned for future updates on this exciting species reintroduction!

Winton Wetlands Newsletters

Summer 2020

Throughout September a team of staff and volunteers carried out extensive surveys to help determine the presence of a range of reptile species at the reserve. See what they found!

Spring 2020

Check out what’s been going on in the field and in the Mokoan Hub & Café during COVID-19.

Autumn 2020

While the Mokoan Hub & Café has been busy raising much needed funds for wildlife, the team at Winton Wetlands have been organising the site’s very own Turtle Pod.

Wall to Wall @ Winton Wetlands

Join us for Wall to Wall Festival this year! Jump aboard one of our guided bus tours or help us complete our larger-than-life turtle play sculpture in our fantastic nature playground!

Art Tour | Stories from the Landscape (AM & PM Tour + Lunch Package Available)

Board our bus and navigate the Winton Wetlands Art Trail stopping at our most memorable locations to hear from local presenters along the way. Unravel the history and ecological aspects that are uniquely “Mokoan”.

Interested in our Morning Guided Bus Tour? For more info click here!

Interested in our Afternoon Guided Bus Tour? For more info click here!

Bookings are essential and spaces limited. 

Conservation Creatives | Paint by Numbers (10AM onwards)

Help us complete our larger-than-life turtle play sculpture as part of Wall to Wall Festival 2020!

Situated in it’s native habitat of the nature playground at the Mokoan Hub & Cafe, our larger-than-life concrete turtle play sculpture (crafted by award-winning Yackandandah artist, Benjamin Gilbert) is desperate for decoration!

Join us for a FREE paint by numbers experience.

Have the family get involved and bring the playground to life through completing the sculpture in this creative outlet that also considers the importance of our environment.

All ages welcome. First come, first served. Smocks and all supplies provided.

Where : 652 Lake Mokoan Road | Chesney Vale VIC 3725.

Enquiries, phone: 03 5766 4462

The Mokoan Hub & Cafe’ will be open per normal from 9am – 4pm serving breakfast, lunch and everything delicious in between. For bookings, phone: 0497 939 507 

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

It’s a fact – less than 30% of scientific researchers in the world are women.

According to the United Nations General Assembly (and us!) “women and girls deserve full and equal access to and participation in science”. On February 11th, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we acknowledge our women team members, industry associates and volunteers who are kicking goals in science. Learn a little about our very own woman scientist, Dr Lisa Farnsworth:

Dr Lisa Farnsworth is a widely-published and highly regarded wildlife ecologist, extensively experienced in her field.

A local to the high country of north east Victoria, Lisa is in her sixth year with Winton Wetlands as terrestrial Restoration Ecologist and her story, which brings her to arrive at this point, is one of dedication and passion.

Lisa completed a Bachelor of Science at LaTrobe University and went on to achieve First Class honours at Deakin University in a study of fur seal pup development. She then proudly earned her PhD working with reptiles and fire ecology in the Mallee.

Relocating to the west coast, Lisa’s work at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary in outback Western Australia allowed her to make her mark in ecological habitat restoration, feral management and species recovery.

As a professional in her field, Lisa says that her role in inspiring younger generations to contribute to the science industry is an inherent and vital responsibility. Encouraging young people to follow their true calling through access to science can mean individuals’ core values are applied to careers that make a real difference in today’s world.

 

World Wetlands Day Biodiversity Photo Comp

Test out your photography skills at Winton Wetlands and enter our World Wetlands Day Biodiversity Photography Competition, beginning on Wednesday 15th January!

Photographs must be taken at the Winton Wetlands site within the last 12 months. We have three categories; junior (16 and under), smart phone and DSLR and prizes up for grabs for each category.

Entries can be submitted to info@wintonwetlands.org.au

Your entry should include:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Photograph (JPEG or JPG formats only – up to 10mb)
  • Address the biodiversity theme
  • Photograph caption explains links to the biodiversity theme

For more information and T&Cs click here.