This is a very brief history of the local wetland at Maffra, formerly known as the Macalister Swamp Reserve it now goes by the grander name of Macalister Wetland Reserve. I’ve been involved with this 25 hectare reserve since 1986, when an advisory commitee was formed to oversee the expenditure of a bicentennial grant. A lot of revegetation was done, boardwalks and bird hides were established, and it was a haven for a wide variety of bird life including Latham’s Snipe. In February 1992 I counted 200 birds in their favourite spot, an outstanding number of this migratory wader from Japan. All this occurred under the supportive supervision of the Maffra Shire Council, but it wasn’t to last. When neighbouring shires were amalgamated and run by commissioners, the committee became redundant and gradually the reserve deteriorated and became over-run with willows and other weeds.
Things changed for the better when normal council representation and management resumed as the Wellington Shire, an Envirofund grant was obtained, and with support from the Shire Council, the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, and Landcare, the reserve was restored to something of its former glory. Unfortunately another factor was working against the reserve, the drying of the climate with 13 years of below average rainfall. The snipe virtually deserted their former stronghold, in some years I saw none, in others perhaps one. Formerly wet areas became dry, and the general bird population plummeted.
Then, just a few weeks ago I was yarning with my cousin Robert who lives next door to the reserve and has an earthmoving business. He told me that he’d like to modify the town stormwater inlet on the northern side of the reserve to curve it around and run it through through the now dry marsh areas. We had an on site meeting with the Shire Open Space Manager, Tim Rowe, who gave his support, and a fortnight ago Robert fired up his ‘dozer and transformed the landscape. Then, wonder of wonders, we got rain, and the following pictures tell the story. Ducks, lapwings, and swamphens have moved in, and best of all a number of snipe have returned, when I was taking pictures this afternoon they were exploding from cover and rocketing away with their twisting flight. Thanks Robert, you’ve done a wonderful job, and thanks also Tim, for your ongoing support for the Macalister Wetland Reserve.


The re-worked stormwater inlet.

new lagoons

Two new lagoons.

running water

Water from the inlet refreshing a marshy area.

black duck
Pacific Black Duck lifting off from one of the new lagoons.

black-shouldered kite
Black-shouldered Kite hovering beside the inlet.

What’s that, you want a picture of one of the snipe on the wing? Well…. I tried but they were just about too quick for me :-(

latham's snipe

Click the first three pix to enlarge.

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