Protecting the Barwon River system

The Barwon River system (Barra Wallee Yulluk) is vital to the communities of the Geelong region, the Otways, the Moorabool Valley and all of the diverse creatures that call it home.  

The Barwon river system – including the Moorabool River, the Barwon River, Leigh Creek and several hundred kilometres of minor tributaries – is the lifeblood for communities, wildlife, farms and millions of people. These rivers give us drinking water, places to rest and play, and homes for platypuses, native fish like Spotted Galaxias and Common Jollytails, as well as Short finned Eels. 

But this river system is under long-term, growing strain from overdevelopment, over-extraction (including Geelong’s water supply) and deforestation.  They are in dire need of a new approach to restore them as a healthy, life-sustaining river system.  

This is exemplified by the catastrophic ecological collapse of Big Swamp in the upper Barwon in 2016 while the Moorabool River is the most flow-stressed waterway in Victoria.  

EJA, Friends of the Barwon and People for a Living Moorabool have campaigned for new legislation to protect the Barwon River, which acknowledges the river as a living entity.  

In 2019, following ongoing work from these groups, the Victorian government established, in parallel to ‘waterways of the West,’ a Ministerial Advisory Committee to set a new policy framework to preserve and restore the river. In response, EJA and Friends of the Barwon released the Protecting and Restoring the Rivers of the Barwon – a report detailing how to take care of the river, including new legislation and improved planning.  

The Victorian government’s ‘action plan’ was released in December 2021 but failed to make the critical changes necessary to safeguard those waterways and the wildlife they support.    

Local environment and community groups continue to advocate for effective protection and restoration of the Barwon and Moorabool Rivers including engagement with the Victorian government to put in place strong and effective plans for water management across southern Victoria.  

Skip to content