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Salinity in the Wimmera Region

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The eastern and mid sections of the Wimmera Region are dominated by the Wimmera River with its tributaries (including the Glenlofty, Mount Cole, Heifer Station and Concongella Creeks and the McKenzie River). A number of Lakes are dotted throughout this country, including Lake Lonsdale, Lake Fyans, Pine Lake, Taylor’s Lake, Green Lake and Lake Hindmarsh. Some of these water-bodies can show signs of salinity when water-levels are low. Bioregions represented here are the south-western end of the Goldfields, the Wimmera, the northern parts of the Greater Grampians and the southern edge of the Murray Mallee. Of these, dryland salinity is most noticeable in the Goldfields where Secondary salinity due to early land clearing has resulted in salinisation of the upper reaches of some creek systems, seepage on mid-slopes and discharge on valley floors. Some rising salinity since settlement is also occurring along the plains associated with the lower Wimmera in the Murray Mallee.

By contrast, the western section of the Wimmera Region is largely without streams. Subsoils are often poorly drained and after rainfall, surface water generally pools in a complex series of freshwater and saline wetlands and lakes. In very wet years, low lying areas can remain inundated for months. A series of north-south running ridges and depressions are associated with chains of lakes and swamps; those towards the far west being less saline than those further east. One of these lines of lakes is the Douglas Chain which contains some good examples of Primary salinity vegetation (e.g. Mitre Lake, North Lake) and some rare Australian native species (e.g. Halosarcia flabelliformis, Austrostipa puberula). The bioregions represented here are the Wimmera and the Lowan Mallee. The latter consists of the Little Desert and is generally not saline, except where extensive clearing has taken place and rising water-tables discharge salt at the base of sand-dunes.

Salinity indicator plants of saline sites in the Wimmera Region are often a mixture of typical Mallee species and Western and Northern Victorian species.

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