River red gum national parks

River red gum national parks along the Murray, Goulburn and Ovens rivers are home to hundreds of threatened or near-threatened native plants and animals, internationally recognised Ramsar wetlands and the largest river red gum forest in the world.

In November 2009, the Victorian Parliament gave the green light for the creation of almost 100,000 hectares of new river red gum national parks from Lake Hume to the South Australian border:

The establishment of the Barmah, Gunbower, Lower Goulburn River and Warby Range-Ovens River national parks followed more than 20 years of work by VNPA and other conservation, community and Aboriginal groups, and is one of the greatest wins for the protection of nature in recent Victorian history.

This wonderful result also came on the back of four years of independent investigations and public consultation that will see a significant reduction in ecologically damaging logging and grazing in Victoria’s red gum forests and wetlands.

This was an historic and far sighted decision that will be good for the environment, the sustainability of the local economy and aspirations of the region’s Indigenous people.

Victoria's River Red Gum national parks

The missing link – Murray River Park

Dotted between the Barmah, Gunbower, Lower Goulburn River and Warby Range-Ovens River, is a series of small reserves collectively known as the Murray River Park.

But it’s not a formal park, which was the original promise by the Victoria Government. And cattle are still licensed to graze, trample sensitive wetlands and pollute the river.

These small reserves were meant to form a link between larger protected areas that stretch from near the South Australian border across to the Hattah-Kulkyne, Gunbower, Barmah and Warby Range-Ovens River national parks.

They are also part of the network of parks we battled so long to create and which should now protect much of the Murray’s river-red-gum wetlands and forests.

Why are these reserves so important?

The Murray River Park, made up of a string of smaller pieces of public land along the river, adds up to more than 20,000 hectares – that’s equivalent to 10,000 MCGs!

The park was intended to:

  • create an almost continuous ecological connection between major national parks
  • provide a significant natural attraction for camping, boating and recreation in a natural river environment
  • protect an outstanding scenic landscape for river users
  • protect parts of the flood plain and river frontage, important to many native species
  • protect important historical sites and sites of cultural significance to Traditional Owners.

These reserves have the potential to provide a coherent, cattle-free wildlife corridor to improve the quality of water runoff into the Murray River.

Before the 2010 state election, the Brumby Labor Government was on the verge of protecting these reserves as part of the historic river-red-gum parks package. They were even legislated and handed over to Parks Victoria for management. But they were not formally gazetted or declared before that government lost power.

Parks Victoria was also part of the way through phasing out cattle grazing when the incoming Coalition Government reversed that process and re-issued more than 200 grazing licences.

As a result, the cows went back in – and they’re still there. Parks Victoria continues to manage the area designated as Murray River Park, even though the area is not formally part of the Victorian parks system and there is no longer any recurrent funding for its management.

For more information see:

> Murry River Park fact sheet

What needs to happen?

First of all, the Murray River Park needs to be formalised under the Crown Land (Reserves) Act. This requires a government gazettal and the phasing out of grazing as licences expire.

Secondly, Parks Victoria needs at least $5 million extra funding each year to manage the Murray River Park.