|The Moorabool River below Batesford|
Alarmingly, the Moorabool is one of the most environmentally stressed rivers in Victoria, with water being drawn from the river from the upper reaches of both the East and West Moorabool rivers, the Lal Lal Reservoir, Sheoaks and Meredith to supply water to Ballarat and Geelong. There is also a significant quantity of water used by farmers and other private operators. It has been indicated that at Batesford at the lower end of the river, environmental flow targets are met less than 50% of the time.
The removal of water from the system is not the only environmental factor affecting river health. The presence of a total of 15 water collection sites along its length impact greatly on the movement of native fish and other river fauna such as platypus whilst the loss of native vegetation for agricultural purposes and its replacement with non-native trees (such as willows) have also had a significant impact on river health.
|Dog Rocks Hotel aka Batesford Hotel aka Derwent Hotel|
The start of the trail is adjacent to the Dog Rocks Flora and Fauna Sanctuary - an area of 83ha which has been preserved in its natural state by the Belcher family who bought the land in 1856. The sanctuary has river frontage to the Moorabool and is home to a wide variety of natve plant and animal life. The sanctuary is holding an open day within the next couple of weeks on 19th November, 2011. Details are on the above website.
After making my way along the river path and back in perfect, sunny weather, I headed back round to Batesford where I stopped at the pub and investigated the old bridge (I do love an old bridge!).
Batesford is named for the brothers Alfred and John Bates who settled in the district in 1837 at this site where the river could be forded, although the township (first surveyed in 1854) was originally named Hopeton for George Hope who then owned the land.
|1859 bluestone bridge at Batesford|
The river is presently flowing along its length due to the rainfall of the past 12 months, however this has not always been the case, especially during the recent drought. For now however, it is lush, green and not too muddy.