The Dewfish Demonstration Reach is highly valued in the Condamine catchment in Queensland. The reach began at a modest 28 kilometres back in 2006, but overwhelming community interest and support saw it stretch to a length of 110 kilometres. It begins in central Dalby and incorporates parts of Myall Creek, Oakey Creek and the Condamine River.
To the catchment community the reach is much more than just a waterway but part of their lifeblood which nourishes some of the world’s most productive farming land. The reach was a flagship project for the former Condamine River Rescue program led by natural resource management group Condamine Alliance (no longer in operation) and funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. This section of river is now managed by the Southern Queensland Landscapes NRM organisation and projects still continue to operate along the Dewfish Demonstration Reach.
The goal of the reach was to restore native fish populations to 60% of pre-European settlement levels. This goal has taken on a special urgency with current native fish populations down by 90% since European settlement. While it’s not a simple or short term task, the reach is proving that it is possible.
Determined to ‘bring back the fish’, Condamine Alliance developed a strategic plan for river rehabilitation in the catchment and has led a revival mission along sections of the Reach since 2006. The urgency of the project, together-with the community’s high regard for the river, has mobilised and empowered a new generation of river custodians across community, business, industry and government.
The depth and breadth of social and economic upshots of the reach has both surprised and delighted all those involved in this pioneering project. Strong community and industry partnerships attracted $2 million of additional co-investment from major players and helped spread the story far and wide throughout the catchment. The video below shares this story and also highlights the important Aboriginal involvement in the project.
In 2012, the project received national recognition by winning three major environmental awards: the Australian Riverprize, the Banksia Award for Water and the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award for Biodiversity.
“This project is the best thing that has ever happened to Oakey Creek… there is no way we could have recovered this area without the help of Condamine Alliance.”
– Noal Kuhl, Oakey Freshwater Fish Stocking Association