After many years of planning, an effort to create a fishway at Horseshoe Bend has been completed with rehabilitation and revegetation of the area now set to commence.

Horseshoe Bend is four kilometres from Walhalla on the Thomson River. In the early 1900’s a tunnel was built to drain water from the river, allowing alluvial mining of the ‘horseshoe bend’ area of the river bed. The tunnel and area around the bend are Heritage listed.

This project was designed to restore water flows around Horseshoe Bend, ensuring uninterrupted connectivity for fish movement from the alpine region to the sea.   West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) worked extensively with key stakeholders, including DELWP, and community to ensure the fishway balances the significant heritage and cultural values of the site with the environmental improvement objectives.

Chief Executive Officer of West Gippsland CMA, Martin Fuller, said that after so many years of preparation it was exciting to see the flows restored.

“This is vital for improving the health of the river and will open up more than 85kms of new habitat for migratory fish species.”

a river runs through greenery and rock formations at Horseshoe Bend

Rehabilitation and revegetation works have commenced around the newly commissioned fishway which has been designed to be a visual low-impact waterway.

The Thomson River is home to eight native fish species that migrate over their life cycle. The most significant species is the Australian Grayling, which is a nationally vulnerable species listed under the federal EPBC Act.

The next phase of rehabilitation and revegetation will begin now including the narrowing of access tracks back to their original size. It is estimated that the regeneration process will take three to five years and is of a high priority for DELWP and the WGCMA.

Other changes include the installation of stepping stones as part of the walking track, and submerged rocks near the tunnel exit.

“To provide an area of less turbulent water near the tunnel exit and allow fish to effectively navigate upstream, large submerged rocks were installed as part of the design,” explained Mr Fuller.

“The rocks, which are placed near the middle of the river, break up the water flow and prevent fish from being swept up in the turbulent flow out of the tunnel. The stepping-stones have been installed to provide river crossing points for bushwalkers.”

It is expected that with good weather, the site will be reopened to the public by the end of August.

For more information, visit the WGCMA.

Water rushing out of a tunnel into a river where fish swim.

Submerged rocks at the tunnel exit are designed to break up the water flow and help prevent fish being swept up in the turbulent flow out of the tunnel.