The Brewarrina to Bourke Demonstration Reach was established for the rehabilitation and protection of aquatic habitat and native fish populations in the iconic Barwon-Darling River. A variety of on-ground works and community awareness activities has been undertaken along a stretch of river that extends 207km in length from the Brewarrina Weir to the Bourke Weir. The demonstration reach was selected as a result of a vigorous scientific assessment and comparison of the habitat values and health of the modified Barwon-Darling River and the unregulated Paroo River.
A range of outcomes have been achieved through this project to date, benefiting not only the health of the Barwon-Darling River between Brewarrina and Bourke, but also the communities who have a greater awareness and capacity to better manage the threats to aquatic species.
The project provides a demonstration of a range of best practise interventions that can be implemented to alleviate the pressures affecting native fish species in the Barwon-Darling River, including improved fish passage at Brewarrina and Bourke weirs, riparian zone management and re-instating instream habitat that was historically removed from the Barwon-Darling River to improve river boat navigation.
Major beneficial outcomes of the project include the construction of a reverse rock-ramp fishway at Brewarrina Weir and reinstatement of over 400 large woody habitats (snags) across eleven priority sites that were found to have insufficient instream habitat. This project also had significant community engagement, including eight carp musters that involved many participants and removed several hundred kilograms of carp from the river system. Stream bank works included weed control covering 100km of riverbank, planting of over 8500 local provenance trees, remediation of eroding gullies, and the provision of riparian fencing and alternative livestock watering points.
Preliminary results from fish monitoring have indicated that native fish are beginning to respond favourably to the interventions within the demonstration reach and in particular, using reinstated large woody habitat at the re-snagging sites.
NSW Department of Primary Industries has engaged a large variety of stakeholders including landholders, local government, communities and schools and other state government organisations to implement on-ground works and community awareness activities. Through education and involvement, the community will be able to better manage the health of the riverine environment and native fish populations beyond the project timeframe.