The Horsham Local Area has the largest population of any municipality in the Wimmera, most of which reside in the Horsham township.

First Nations communities retain a strong connection between the land and water. The creation story of the Barringgi Gadyin (Wimmera River) continues to be told and there are significant sites associated with the Barringgi Gadyin (Wimmera River) in Horsham. In Dyurrite (Mount Arapiles) there are examples of local rock art, nationally significant stone tool making site and quarry sites. There are many scar trees and artefact scatters associated with woodland communities.

map of Horsham council Area

There are strong industry and community support networks aimed at improving natural resource management outcomes for the region. Examples include:

  • Agriculture groups with members in the area, for example Victorian No-Till Farmers Association, Birchip Cropping Group, Wimmera Farming Network
  • Landcare groups
  • Friends of Groups, for example Wimmera River Improvement Committee
  • Committees of management for example Natimuk Lake Foreshore Committee

This is a largely agricultural landscape with dryland cropping making up 60% of the area.(25) As a result grain production is the main economic industry. There is also a significant grazing industry where stock are incorporated into grazing systems. Dedicated pastures are more prevalent in the south. There are also niche agricultural industries like olives and cut native flowers.

The area has many important waterways. The  MacKenzie River supports a small population of platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), while Burnt Creek supports the threatened western swamp crayfish (Gramastacus insolitus) and the most southern known population of the Peron’s Tree Frog (Litoria peronii). The Barringgi Gadyin (Wimmera River) is fringed by riparian vegetation which meanders through an agricultural landscape and provides a significant social, economic, cultural and environmental asset to the region. The Barringgi Gadyin (Wimmera River) weir pool in Horsham is a magnet for recreation and has attracted on average 81,000 participants per year between 2016 and 2020. Events like the annual Horsham fishing competition are a major drawcard. In 2019-20 visitors spent around $843,927 in the local economy.(6)

The Horsham Local Area contains 531 functioning wetlands, including 177 shallow freshwater marshes and 154 freshwater meadows. In the south and west there are diverse and a high density of wetlands. Most are on private land. Many provide significant habitat and recreational opportunities. The Natimuk-Douglas chain of lakes is a unique chain of salt and freshwater wetlands that are important for migratory birds.

The local community and visitors enjoy the many waterways throughout the Horsham Local Area. There is a desire to improve sustainable access to waterways to improve the local economy and health outcomes.

There is a small but valuable groundwater resource to the north of Gariwerd (Grampians National Park) that is only used in extreme drought to augment Horsham’s water supply.

A range of endangered plants and animal communities live here. Pine-Buloke Woodlands exist west of Gariwerd (Grampians National Park). There are remnant Salt Paperbark communities on the edges of some salt lakes and in some of these the rare Bead Glasswort (Halosarcia flabelliformis) can be found. Small patches of Grey-box woodlands are scattered throughout. Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) are in the upper MacKenzie River and are an iconic species that is under threat. Examples of endangered species include striped legless lizard (Delma impar), bush stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius), brolga (Grus rubicunda), Grampian’s duck orchid (Paracaleana disjuncta), and Wimmera bottlebrush (Callistemon wimmerensis).

Significant areas are managed in reserves for example the Dyurrite (Mount Arapiles) and Tooan State Park and the Burrunj (Black Range State Park).