The Pollack Swamp is a 700ha nature reserve managed by FCNSW that lies on the banks of the Barber Creek, 1km downstream of the Barber Creek road bridge on the Barham to Moulamein road. The Pollack is part of the Koondrook State Forest, although it is isolated from the main forest within the Gunbower, Koondrook-Pericoota icon site. It lies within the traditional country of the Barapa Barapa people and contains a large amount of archaeological evidence of Aboriginal occupation. Historically, the Pollack Swamp was 1.4m deep and had an impressive number of earth mounds where the traditional Barapa Barapa people lived along the water way. Carbon dating of charcoal within the mounds has dated the mounds as far back as 3000 years. The lagoon had a very active bird population with bee eaters, cormorants and even a sea eagle.
Since regulation of the Murray River, the frequency and duration of flooding within the Pollack was dramatically reduced. During natural high flows, the 220ha swamp, fills from the Barbers Creek through a small channel called the Pollack Creek. Flood waters exit the Pollack via a capillary of flood runners rejoining the Barber Creek to the north. The water flowing via the Pollack Creek would typically cover the swamp in just 3-4 days.
Under the environmental watering program, water is delivered through the Bringan Trust channel infrastructure. Flows are delivered via the pumping station on the Murray River and travel 10km through open channel to the Pollack. In working with landholders, some of the channel constraints have been removed, enabling up to 25ML/day water delivery. The water delivery is much slower than a natural overbank event, with the last watering taking over 85 days to inundate 158ha.
The project is a great example of how a well thought out project can deliver great environmental outcomes with the modest 2GL water use. The Pollack has long been recognised as a significant waterbird breeding site with historical breeding records of both the Eastern Great Egret Ardea modesta and the Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia (both listed as Threatened Species in VIC) and many other species (Disher, 2000; Hutton, 2017).