Stephen Powell returned to Geelong last year after living and working in Aboriginal communities in Far North Queensland. He is headed north again soon. After nearly 10 years away he had hoped to find his beloved Moorabool River in better condition than he had left it given at least a small environmental allocation had been secured for it. He visited his old fishing spots and found them devoid of the species that he once knew them for. He contacted People for a Living Moorabool to tell of his distress at the condition of the river.
These are his words.
My name is Steve Powell I have lived in Batesford for most of my life where the lower reaches of the Moorabool run through.
I would like to share with everyone the close links many people from all walks of life have had with this once magnificent river and the relationship the Moorabool River has with people's lives.
As a boy this river was my playground, fished and explored every nook and cranny of the Moorabool through and beyond Batesford. To be honest it is part of my soul and in a way created the person I am today.
But over the past 30 years I have watched it die due to massive demands placed on this beautiful river and to, in my view, the mismanagement of many government departments who exploited rather than looked after it.
There were plenty of favourite spots through Batesford where many people gathered to swim, fish, and just enjoy the beauty of the Moorabool River.
But for many years it would stop flowing and great sections became too dry too often. The fish life in these sections are all but gone from what I enjoyed as a boy. These large lengths were bone dry for many years in a row, breaking the link to upstream reaches and stopping migration of many species to the sea which they needed to spawn.
When I was young the quality of fishing in the Moorabool River brought a smile to my face, but now in these sections many species are dead. The once massive migration of eel elvers I once watched as a boy are gone. They were in their hundreds of thousands. It is enough to make you cry.
In my view the once magnificent Moorabool River will never return to its former glory and I have grave fears for its future.
Steve Powell January 2020
29th July 2018
It was a daunting forecast of strong winds but the rain that had been such a blessing for the river had abated somewhat so a visit was organised. There was only a single other car in the Lal Lal Falls car park and it was hard to hear any water over the wind.
A short walk to the lookout showed the falls were indeed in action and providing a spectacle. They were without the power seen when there has been substantial winter rain, but were no doubt adding to the reservoir, now over 75% full gaining 268ML over the last week. However it is still 10% down on last year's volume.
While there did seem to be some weed control at the reserve the blackberry loads are still substantial.
Despite a few showers we decided to do the walk into the Moorabool Falls. On the way we managed a brief explore up Salt Creek. The moss covering of the granite boulders gave it a fairytale feel but the many bones distributed around indicated plenty of fox activity.
There are many rock hollows along the creek along with blackberries combined to make it an attractive spot for lairs.
On the plus side there was an unexpected pool which by the look of the instream vegetation may well be perennial.
The Moorabool Falls had a reasonable flow, enough to make us think twice about attempting a crossing to make our way down to Granite Falls. A heavy shower and the late hour ultimately making the decision to turn back this time pretty easy.
It was good to see both falls in action. We still have a while to go for decent rain to replenish environmental water reserves but the likelihood of water over the spillway this winter is not great.
A fresh Moorabool "Secateur Sunday" has seen another section of a proposed river walk being explored, cleared and mapped near Meredith. There is still a lot of work to be done and the long grass at this time of year makes for a more cautious pace, but working close to a flowing Moorabool was pleasant.
Besides the major problem weed blackberries, gorse and thistles were also tackled.
A big thank you to Jeff who put in a big day despite suffering from hay fever. The restorative ales of the Meredith pub afterward were certainly welcome.
The aim in this initial stage is to have a walk pegged out that will take the experienced walkers from Coopers Bridge through to Slate Quarry Road.
Unfortunately a dumped car was found pushed over the side of the track at Slate Quarry Road. A message was left for the Meredith police who will hopefully deal with it soon.
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