Directory of Important Wetlands

Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia - Information sheet

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Lake Wallawalla - VIC016

Level of importance: National - Directory
Location: 34 degrees 11' S, 141 degrees 11' E; 17 km north-west of Meringur North.
Biogeographic region: Murray-Darling Depression
Shire: Shire: Mildura (Rural City).
Area: 828 ha.
Elevation: 21 m ASL.
Other listed wetlands in same aggregation: VIC017 (Lindsay Island), VIC025 (Wallpolla Island).
Wetland type: B6
Criteria for inclusion: 1, 3,
Site description:
Lake Wallawalla is a semi-permanent fresh to brackish wetland formed in a deflation basin.
Physical features:
Playa on Quaternary fluvial sediments of the Coonambidgal Formation. Lake Wallawalla has a red sand lunette on the eastern side formed by deflation of wave-built beaches on the eastern side of previously full lakes. Clay lunettes formed by deflation of salinised lake beds under conditions of higher groundwater levels are also associated with the lake (Thorne et al. 1990). The eastern lunette is one of very few lunettes solely on public land in Victoria (LCC 1989). A sandhill escarpment occurs along the south to south-west side of the lake. Climate: average summer temperature range 17-32oC and average winter temperature range 4-15oC. Annual rainfall 250 mm. Rainfall is low throughout the year and is always exceeded by mean evaporation which is very high over summer. Severe frosts occur in winter (Beovich 1994b).
Hydrological features:
Lake Wallawalla is fed by the Lindsay River (an anabranch of the Murray River) and therefore is an extension of the Lindsay Island wetlands system (MDD018VI). The natural inlet of the lake has been blocked by a road (the Mail Route) while an artificial inlet consisting of two culverts is set at a higher level than the natural inlet. The narrowness of these culverts restricts water inflows and outflows and results in scouring of the channel. Lake Wallawalla fills periodically when the Lindsay River floods. On average this occurs once every four years and the lake holds water for a year after reaching full level.
Ecological features:
Lake Wallawalla is a high value wetland for its flora, fauna and geomorphology.
The lake bed supports herb communities during dry periods and is fringed by Black Box Eucalyptus largiflorens-chenopod (Old-man Saltbush Atriplex nummularia) woodlands and small areas of River Red Gum E. camaldulensis (Beovich 1994b). It is an example of an unusual wetland formation in Victoria.
Notable flora:
Threatened species: Jerry Jerry Ammania multiflora (Sv), Lagoon Nightshade Solanum lacunarium (Sv), Lagoon Spurge Phyllanthus lacunarius (Sv), Murray Lily Crinum flaccidus (Sv), Bignonia Emu-bush Eremophila bignoniiflora (Sv), Twiggy Emu-bush Eremophila polyclada (Sv), Spiny Lignum Muehlenbeckia horrida (Sr), Twin-flower Saltbush Dissocarpus biflorus (Sr), Desert Glasswort Pachycornia triandra (Sr), Silver Needlewood Hakea leucoptera (Sd) and Cattlebush Alectryon oleifolius (Sd) have been recorded (DCE 1992; LCC 1987). The latter two species are found in dry areas around the lake.
Notable fauna:
Composition: 34 waterbird species have been recorded at Lake Wallawalla (NRE 1995a). Threatened species: Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus (Src), Great Egret Egretta alba (listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act), Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia (Src), White-bellied Sea-eagle (Sr and listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act), Regent Parrot Polytelis anthopeplus (Sv and listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act), Apostlebird Struthidea cinerea (Sr) and Paucident Planigale Planigale gilesi (Sr and listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act) have been recorded (DCE 1990b; LCC 1987). The latter two species are forest/woodland birds. Numbers: Lake Wallawalla has supported over 10% of the regional population of Black Swan Cygnus atratus and over 5% of the Victorian population of Maned Duck Chenonetta jubata (up to 2346). Up to 125 Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus and 3000 Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo have been counted (NRE 1995a). Breeding: Great Cormorants breed at the lake (NRE 1995a).
Other Fauna:
Social and Cultural values:
When there is water in the lake there are numerous recreational opportunities. These include boating, yabbying, fishing and birdwatching (McKane 1991). Aboriginal culture: Middens and burial sites along the lunette and adjacent to the Lindsay River are of high significance (VAS 1992). The lunette is dated at about 17 500 BP (Thorne et al. 1990).
Land tenure:
Mostly part of the Murray-Sunset National Park. Surrounding area: Private land, Lake Wallawalla Reference Area - 6 km west of Lake Wallawalla.
Current land use:
Nature conservation, boating, camping, yabbying and fishing, birdwatching. Surrounding area: Grazing, cropping.
Disturbance or threat:
Past/present: Grazing was removed in July 1990 and hunting is no longer permitted due to the lake's inclusion in the Murray-Sunset National Park.

Potential: Saline groundwater inflow from the Lindsay River may affect the vegetation and water quality at Lake Wallawalla.
Conservation measures taken:
Lake Wallawalla is reserved as part of the Murray-Sunset National Park. Lake Wallawalla has supported the White-bellied Sea-eagle and Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia (only listed under CAMBA) and the Great Egret and Greenshank Tringa nebularia (both listed under both JAMBA and CAMBA).
Management authority and jurisdiction:
Parks Victoria.
See Victoria Reference List
Compiler & date:
Parks, Flora and Fauna Division, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, September 1995.
AWRC Division: Murray-Darling