Directory of Important Wetlands

Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia - Information sheet

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Great Cumbung Swamp - NSW045

Level of importance: National - Directory
Location: Murray Riverine Plains at 34 degrees 13' S to 34 degrees 20' S, 143 degrees 55' E to 144 degrees 05' E. Floodplain of the Lachlan River near Oxley.
Biogeographic region: Riverina.
Area: 16 000 ha.
Elevation: 70 m ASL.
Other listed wetlands in same aggregation: Not given
Wetland type: B1, B2, B4, B14, B9, B10, B13, B6
Criteria for inclusion: 1, 2, 3, 4,
Site description:
Physical features:
The climate of the area is semi-arid with an annual average rainfall of 360mm. The average daily temperature ranges from summer maximums of 33 degrees C to winter minimums of 4 degrees C (CMA, 1982e). The geology of the Great Cumbung Swamp comprises of the late Pleistocene to Holocene Coonambidgal Formation of the Wunghnu Group consisting predominantly of unconsolidated grey, red brown silt, silt clay, sand and gravel (Brady et al., 1998). The soils of the area comprise black clays in the reedbeds, and black to grey deep cracking clays in the surrounding Eucalypt forest (Brady et al., 1998). These fluvial sediments overly two older geomorphic environments which remain as remnants of old longitudinal dunes and lunettes (Australian Heritage Commission, 1998).
Hydrological features:
The wetland comprises the terminal drainage swamp of the Lachlan River, the Great Cumbung Swamp, and surrounding floodplain, including Baconian Swamp. Depending on water level in the swamp and flows in the Murrumbidgee River, some water can drain into the Murrumbidgee (Brady et al., 1998). Significant natural flooding of the area occurs in about one in ten years, mainly in spring and summer due to rain in the headwater catchments of the Lachlan. Water movement and retention in the swamp is subject to control via a complex series of banks, cuttings, and regulators which are constructed and operated by landholders. Levees have been constructed along river banks.
Ecological features:
The Great Cumbung Swamp comprises principally an area of 4,000 ha of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) (DWR, 1990b). Other dominant species in this community include Common Goundsel (Senecio cunninghamii var. cunninghamii), and Cumbungs or Bulrushes (Typha orientalis and Typha domingensis). Associated species include Poison Pratia (Pratia concolor), Nardoo (Marsilea drummondii), Rush (Juncus flavidus), Common Sneezeweed (Centipeda cunninghamii), Slender Knotweed (Persicaria decipiens), Water Couch (Paspalum distichum), River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), Sedge (Cyperus gymnocaulos), Ribbonweed (Vallisneria gigantea), and Curly Pondweed (Potomogeton crispus) (Porteners, 1993). The surrounding Lachlan floodplain is covered by River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) woodland with marginal areas of Black Box (Eucalyptus largiflorens) woodland, Lignum (Muehlenbeckia florulenta) swamp, small areas of Cumbungi (Typha sp.) and shallow marshes of Azolla (Azolla sp.), areas of open water and Spike-rush (Eleocharis sp.) (DWR, 1990b).
Following flooding, widespread breeding of many species of waterbirds occurs (Pressey et al.. 1984; Maher 1990). Fauna species which have been recorded within Great Cumbung Swamp include the Lace Monitor (Varanus varius), Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae), Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea), Grey Teal (Anas gracilis), Australasian Shoveller (Anas rhynchotis), Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa), Hardhead (Aythya australis), Musk Duck (Biziura lobata), Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata), Black Swan (Cygnus atratus), Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus), Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides), Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus), Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae), Darter (Anhinga melanogaster), Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), Little Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos), Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris), Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus), Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia), White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae), Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus), Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes), Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia), Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca), Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis), Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans), Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), Little Eagle (Hieraatus morphnoides), Australian Hobby (Falco longipennis), Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra), Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebricosa), Black-tailed Native-hen (Gallinula ventralis), Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), Australian Spotted Crake (Porzana fluminea), Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles), Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus), Silver Gull (Larus novaehollandiae), Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica), Yellow Rosella (Platycercus elegans flaveolus), Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus), Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus), Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus), Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti), Yellow Thornbill (Acanthiza nana), Chestnut-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza uropygialis), Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus), White-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus pencillatus), Little Friarbird (Philemon citreogularis), Grey Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonica), Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca), Clamorous Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus stentoreus), Little Grassbird (Megalurus gramineus), Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus), Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus), Little Mastiff-bat (Mormopterus planiceps), Gould?s Wattled Bat (Chalinolobus gouldii), Lesser Long-eared Bat (Nyctophilus geoffroyi), Western Broad-nosed Bat (Scotorepens balstoni), Little Forest Eptesicus (Vespadelus vulturnus), and the Water Rat (Hydromys chrysogaster) (NPWS, 1998b).
Notable flora:
The Great Cumbung and Baconian Swamp remain in a relatively natural condition, and therefore represent a good example of the terminal reed swamps, and associated floodplain vegetation. Specht et al., (1995) consider the conservation status of River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) communities to be poor to reasonable in Australia. Great Cumbung Swamp together with the surrounding floodplain supports one of the largest stands of River Red Gum in NSW (Australian Heritage Commission, 1998).
Notable fauna:
As with many other large inland wetlands, this area would provide drought refuge when wetlands in other parts of the state are dry. This wetland system supports large numbers of waterbirds, many of which breed in the area (Braithwaite et al.. 1985a, 1985b, 1986, 1987; Kingsford et al.. 1989, 1990; Maher 1990; Magrath 1992). The system supports a number of species of waterbirds considered to be vulnerable at a state level (Sv) including the Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa), and the Blue-billed Duck (Oxyura australis) (NPWS, 1998b). Species listed under JAMBA and / or CAMBA which have been recorded within Great Cumbung Swamp include the Great Egret (Ardea alba), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata), Latham?s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii), and the Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) (NPWS, 1998b).
Other Fauna:
Social and Cultural values:
none noted.
Land tenure:
On site: Mostly Western Lands leases, freehold and Crown land. Surrounding area: State Forest, freehold and Western Lands lease.
Current land use:
On site: Grazing (predominantly cattle but some sheep), and recreation. Surrounding area: Forestry, grazing and recreation.
Disturbance or threat:
Past/present: Lachlan River regulation and diversion of water for irrigation from the Murrumbidgee River. The reed beds are burnt in most years to encourage fodder regrowth (DWR, 1990b). Grazing has had an effect on some native plant species (Pressey et al., 1984). Feral animals which have been recorded in Great Cumbung Swamp include the Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Goat (Capra hircus), and the Pig (Sus scrofa) (NPWS, 1998b). Weed species include Bathurst Burr (Xanthium spinosum), Golden Dodder (Cuscuta australis), Barley Grass (Hordeum leporinum), Annual Beardgrass (Polypogon monspeliensis), Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare), Water Buttons (Cotula coronopifolia), Celery Buttercup (Ranunculus scleratus), and Rush (Juncus articulatus) (Porteners, 1993).

Potential: No information
Conservation measures taken:
Preparation of Water Management Plan commenced. Draft Water Management Plan for Wetlands of the Lachlan Valley Floodplain prepared. Great Cumbung Swamp is listed on the Register of the National Estate.
Management authority and jurisdiction:
Landholders, Department of Land and Water Conservation.
Australian Heritage Commission (1998); Brady, A. Shaikh, M. King, A. Ross, J. & Sharma, P. (1998); Braithwaite, L.W. & Frith, H.J. (1969); Braithwaite, L.W. et al.. (1985a); Braithwaite, L.W. et al.. (1985b); Braithwaite, L.W. et al.. (1986); Braithwaite, L.W. et al.. (1987); Brickhill, J. (undated); Brickhill, J. (1990); Cross, H. & Keenan, F. (1988); Cross, H.C. et al.. (1991); Department of Water Resources (1988); Department of Water Resources (1990b); Eddy, V. (1992); Guppy, M.(1974); Helman, P. & Estella, P.(1983); Hindwood, K.A.(1940); Kingsford, R.T. et al.. (1988b); Kingsford, R.T. et al.. (1989); Kingsford, R.T. et al.. (1990); Magrath, M.J.L. (1992); Maher, P.N. (1990); National Parks & Wildlife Service (1998b); NSW Department of Water Resources (1989); NSW Department of Water Resources (1991); Paijmans, K. (1978); Porteners, M.J. (1993); Pressey, R.L. et al.. (1984); Specht, R.L., Specht, A., Whelan, M.B. & Hegarty, E.E. (1995). See NSW Reference List
Compiler & date:
Geoffrey Winning & Michael Murray, Shortland Wetlands Centre, December 1992. Revised P. Bacon, Woodlots & Wetlands, 1995. Revised, Tania Laity, National Parks & Wildlife Service, 1998.
AWRC Division: Murray-Darling
AWRC Region:
AWRC Basin: