West Wimmera

The West Wimmera Local Area lies in western Victoria on the South Australian border, about halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide. It is the largest Local Area in the Wimmera. Edenhope is the largest town followed by Kaniva.

Given the abundance of wetlands and remnant native vegetation and associated wildlife that remains across the West Wimmera there is a strong connection between Country and First Nations people. First Nations people are increasingly involved in traditional burning practices across the area in collaboration with fire authorities. The Country Plan identifies the Little Desert and Big Desert National Parks as areas where there is a desire to establish joint management with Parks Victoria.

The economy of the shire is dominated by agricultural production, particularly grain growing and sheep. There is a significant groundwater irrigation industry that grows a range of products including clover, grains and vegetables.

map of West Wimmera Area

There are significant areas of native vegetation on private land. These landholders play a significant role in the management of these areas, for example fire management and invasive plant and animal control.

West Wimmera is geographically bisected by the Little Desert. South of the desert there is a strong north–south running dune–swale system. The rainfall is relatively high in the south, with a very high density of wetlands. The swales have historically provided the best cropping and grazing country with their heavier clay soils. The lighter sandy country on the dunes is less developed, and patches of stringybark scrub remains. South of the Little Desert, broadacre cropping and sheep farming dominate, with a zone of groundwater sourced for irrigated agriculture and horticulture in the Neuarpurr district and surrounds. In the higher rainfall areas of the far south–west, blue gum and pine plantations have been established over the last decade. To the north of the Little Desert, the dune–swale system is less pronounced, rainfall is lower and seasonal wetlands are less dense. North of the desert is one of Victoria’s most productive broadacre cropping districts.

The West Wimmera is unique due to the myriad of seasonal wetlands in its landscape. While many wetlands are protected in parks and reserves, thousands of smaller, more seasonal wetlands exist on private land. There is a large amount of native vegetation remaining in and south of the Little Desert. This provides good connectivity of habitat on a north–south axis, and many of the larger patches of native vegetation are connected by strips on the dunes.

Mosquito Creek feeds into the Ramsar–listed Bool Lagoon in South Australia, making it a high priority stream for the district. This stream has been known to support growling grass frogs (Litoria raniformis) and native fish, including the Yarra pygmy perch (Nannoperca obscura), river blackfish (Gadopsis marmoratus) and dwarf galaxias (Galaxiella pusilla).

The Kowree Farm Tree Group has been dedicated to protecting flora and fauna while maintaining agriculture. There have been many significant conservation projects in the region supported by Trust for Nature, Greening Australia, the Red–tailed Black Cockatoo Recovery Team, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Bank Australia.