31 October 2023

Birdwatchers back in the loop as Riverina wetlands reopen to visitors

| Chris Roe
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birds at wetlands

Bird numbers are booming in the Fivebough Wetlands near Leeton. Photo: Paul Maytom.

The Fivebough Wetlands near Leeton have finally been fully reopened to the public in the wake of flood damage last year.

Considered one of the most significant wetlands in NSW, Fivebough is a birdwatcher’s paradise; however, several of the walking trails were impacted by the floods and sections have been closed.

The NSW Government contracted local company Boots Civil to assist with the repairs and to reinstate the highly popular continuous pedestrian loop around the wetlands.

“It was great to assist a significant local project such as this to improve safety and help restore public access to the wetlands,” said Boots Civil project manager Grant Dowling.

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Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper agreed and hoped the repairs would provide a boost to local tourism.

“The Fivebough Wetlands are a tourism gem and of international significance for the NSW environment, so these repairs to restore full and safe public access following last year’s floods is fantastic for the Riverina,” Mr Kamper said.

The project included work to repair, raise and reinforce water channels to improve erosion protection and water flow.

wetlands loop track

Fivebough’s loop track has reopened after water channel remediation. Photo: Supplied.

The Fivebough Wetlands are home to some of the highest bird numbers in NSW, with more than 170 species, including vulnerable and endangered ones such as magpie geese, freckled and blue-billed ducks, brolgas, black-tailed godwits, Australasian bitterns and Australian painted snipes.

The wetlands also support threatened plant communities as well as other wildlife, from kangaroos, echidnas, lizards, water rats, frogs, aquatic snails and, of course, plenty of snakes – something visitors are urged to be aware of.


Successive years of environmental water releases and floods have led to a boom in waterbird populations. Photo: Paul Maytom.

Three successive La Nina weather events in recent years have brought mixed blessings after a decade of drought.

While there were large fishkills in the Murray Darling Basin, washed-out crops and property damage have provided perfect nesting conditions for many native bird populations.

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Scientists have suggested that the record floods have triggered the most significant bird-breeding event in decades, with tens of thousands of chicks hatching across the region.

It is hoped that some endangered species, such as the Australasian bitterns, will see an ongoing resurgence in the wetlands of southern NSW.

birdwatchers at wetlands

Birdwatchers continue to flock to the wetlands. Photo: Supplied.

The Fivebough Wetlands reserve covers 342 hectares and includes an interpretive centre, three bird-viewing shelters, the Budyaan Baamirra Picnic Area and public toilets.

While Crown Lands is considering further work to resurface some sections of the walking track, visitors can once again complete the popular 2.8 km loop.

There is also a 1.4 km return track that takes birdwatchers from Brolga Junction to ”Glossy Ibis Shelter” and back.

The track is well signposted and meanders through diverse habitat settings that offer spectacular access to waterbirds, waders, birds of prey and grassland species.

You can find out more here.

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