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Salinity in the Gippsland Region

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For the purpose of this document, the Gippsland region includes the eastern half of the Port Phillip Catchment Management Region (CMA) and the CMA regions of West and East Gippsland. The bioregions of Gippsland are the Victorian Alps, Highlands – Southern Fall, Highlands - Far East, Monaro Tablelands, East Gippsland Uplands, East Gippsland Lowlands, Gippsland Plain and Strzelecki (often rendered Strezlecki) Ranges.

Numerous rivers arise from the Great Dividing or Strezlecki Ranges and most end up at the coast. The Yarra River drains towards Port Phillip Bay while numerous rivers (including the Bass, Lang Lang, Tarago and Bunjip Rivers), creeks (including the Cardinia and Yallock Creeks) and empty into Western Port Bay. Some dryland salinity is known to occur on Phillip Island and along some of the river flats.

Along the Gippsland coast, a number of Rivers enter inlets (e.g. the Tarwin River and Anderson Inlet, the Bemm River and Sydenham Inlet and the Genoa River and Mallacoota Inlet) before connecting to the sea but in central Gippsland, the La Trobe, Thompson, Avon, Mitchell, Nicholson and Tambo Rivers all carry water to the Gippsland Lakes complex where it mixes with sea water entering the system at Lakes Entrance. Before a permanent entrance was created in the latter half of the 19th century to facilitate the movement of shipping, the Gippsland Lakes were essentially a freshwater system. Due to high tides and flooding, salinity has now encroached well inland from the lakes and affected associated wetlands.

Salinity due to irrigation (e.g. Macalister Irrigation Area) has been under surveillance for some time but dryland salinity is still being mapped across the lower plains country and particularly where rainfall is insufficient to leach accumulated salts through the soil profiles.

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