The Living Murray is one of Australia’s most significant river restoration program. It aims to achieve a healthy working Murray River for the benefit of all Australians. This includes returning water to the river’s environment.
The Living Murray program was established in 2002 in response to the declining health of the Murray River. The program is a partnership of the Australian, New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, ACT and Commonwealth governments, coordinated by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.
The program’s First Step began in 2004 and focused on recovering 500 gigalitres of water to improve the environmental health of six special or ‘icon’ sites.
The Living Murray icon sites along the Murray River were chosen for their high ecological value and their cultural significance to Indigenous people and the broader community. Most icon sites are listed as internationally significant wetlands under the Ramsar Convention. They are:
- Barmah–Millewa Forest
- Gunbower–Koondrook–Perricoota Forest
- Hattah Lakes,
- Chowilla Floodplain and Lindsay-Wallpolla-Mulcra Islands
- Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth
- The Murray River Channel
Through The Living Murray program, action is underway to provide water to the icon sites. Ecological objectives have been developed aimed at retaining, restoring or improving the health of the sites’ ecosystems, habitats, and plant and animal communities.
The six icon sites are marked on the map below:
The Living Murray program
By returning water to the environment and building structures such as regulators, weirs and fishways, The Living Murray program is helping to ensure a healthy, working Murray River into the future. The program consists of the following components:
Water recovery projects have recovered environmental water to deliver to the six Living Murray icon sites.
Once water is recovered, it is delivered to the icon sites in ways that achieve maximum ecological results at each icon sites.
Monitoring provides information to assess the success of The Living Murray objectives and to adaptively manage environmental water delivery.
Through works and measures (or infrastructure) projects, attempts are made to make the best possible use of water in the Murray River system and to optimise the benefits of the recovered environmental water.
Because many Australians have an interest in the Murray River, The Living Murray program aims to ensure that local communities, stakeholders and the general public can receive information and be consulted about The Living Murray activities.
Finding the balance
A key part of The Living Murray is to find a balance between social, cultural and environmental needs, as well as national interests, to ensure there is equity in the way that environmental water is delivered.
Recognising Indigenous connections
The Living Murray recognises Indigenous people’s spiritual and cultural connection to their country, and their aspirations to be actively involved in managing the environment.
The Living Murray resources
For more information, reports, fact sheets and general information about The Living Murray program, visit the Murray-Darling Basin Authority website: www.mdba.gov.au or phone The Living Murray’s Communication and Consultation Officer on 02 6279 0614.
Why have school excursions to The Living Murray icon sites?
Since 2005, many school groups have visited The Living Murray icon sites to better understand some of their remarkable and unique environments. There are many reasons why icon sites are excellent places to help students better understand the wonderful natural resources of the Murray River.
- Most sites are easily accessible on good signposted roads and are close to major towns.
- The sites have been well researched and offer a great deal of scientific and technical information.
- All sites are serviced by staff with technical, environmental, and Aboriginal knowledge.
- The sites are on publicly-managed land and offer relatively safe and risk-free environments for students. From time to time, river heights, flooding, fire and weather may create risks and access is restricted.
- There is a great deal of existing material each icon sites.
- Most sites have toilets, BBQ and camping facilities – the current exception is the Chowilla Floodplain and Lindsay–Wallpolla-Mulcra Islands and the Koondrook-Perricoota section of the Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest icon site.
- There may be resource people available who can assist you with arranging excursions and provide information at each site.
- The following provides additional information as well as practical activities when visiting the icon sites.
Please note that some icon sites or parts of icon suites are not suitable for school excursions or visits as they have no or limited facilities, are difficult to access, may be temporarily closed due to works, or are remote.
However, there are resource people who may be able to visit schools to talk about these Living Murray icon sites and the planned works and activities.