OzFish’s Sunraysia River Repair Bus’s was celebrated yesterday evening as OzFish seeks to further its habitat restoration work along the Murray River.
The event was held at Café 1909 at Mildura and saw leading natural resource managers, partner groups and volunteers gather to celebrate the successes of the bus after its first year on the road.
This is OzFish’s second River Repair Bus which commenced work in the catchment in 2020 and has been working with the wider community to improve the health and productivity of native fish populations.
In what is a truly unique initiative, the bus undertakes weekly activities that includes rubbish collection, undertaking weed removal, revegetating waterways, and improving instream habitat across the region.
Braeden Lampard, OzFish Unlimited Program Manager for the Murray Darling Basin, said that the Sunraysia River Repair Bus outcomes are outstanding after just a year and is a testament to the OzFish vision all over Australia.
“In its first year and with the challenge of COVID lockdowns the bus managed to completed some significant work some of which included 1.5km of track and cultural heritage maintenance, 3km of riparian fencing repairs, 85km of waterway habitat mapped, 9 trailer loads of weeds controlled and over 10 tonnes of rubbish collected,” said Braeden.
In addition to helping native fish, the Sunraysia River Repair Bus has also provided an opportunity for more than 35 participants to gain unique skills in hands-on river restoration and prepare them for future employment and career paths.
Being a genuinely local initiative, it’s also supporting the local economy by utilising local business and employing locals.
“The bus is a community icon. When it drives down the main street, it assures the locals that their riverbanks are being protected and restored and in this region there’s a lot of waterways to help,” said Braeden.
The Sunraysia River Repair Bus is funded by the Federal Government’s 2020 Murray Darling Basin Economic Development grant program and also supported by OzFish corporate partner, BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing and by both Victorian and New South Wales state government agencies.
Peter Kelly from Bottle Bend Reserve Committee who attended the unveiling event has been an advocate for the bus since its commenced and said that it’s leading the way when it comes to empowering locals to care about for their local waterway.
“Every time the bus drives past, it is a reminder that we, as a community, need to focus on our waterway. I can’t think of a better way to communicate that message within a town,” said Mr Kelly.
OzFish is building their River Repair Bus program across the Murray Darling Basin, with a sister bus on the Macquarie River at Dubbo and a new bus being prepared for the Barwon Mehi and Gwygir River based at Moree.
If you would like to know more about the project, to volunteer on the Bus or create your own OzFish Chapter contact 1800 431 308 or drop us a comment on social media.