Gum Swamp Wildlife Refuge
Immerse yourself in nature
Gum Swamp Wildlife Refuge has long-been recognised as a significant site for ornithology. However, you don’t need to be a devote twitcher to appreciate the nature reserve.
In addition to discovering the diverse array of flora and fauna, the site lends itself to a whole range of passive recreational opportunities including photography, art, as well as health and wellness pursuits.
Located four kilometres south-west of Forbes. Turn off the Newell Highway (south) onto Warrul Road, then left onto Greens Road.
A Dynamic EcosystemGum Swamp attracts a diverse variety of fauna and is a nationally significant site for ornithology (bird watching). Due to Gum Swamp’s importance as waterbird and bird habitat, the site was promoted to Wildlife Refuge status in 1985. Four bird hides, located on the water’s edge, feature unobtrusive vantage points for avid and amateur twitchers to observe water and forest birds, both local and migratory. In addition to the extensive range of birds, 14 different mammals, 9 reptiles, 6 frogs, as well as the common bent-wing bat have been recorded in the area. Invasive carp and mosquito fish are also present in Gum Swamp. The dead River Red Gums provide hollows ideal for nest sites and roosts for many bird species, keeping them safe from terrestrial predators. Additionally, 20 artificial nesting hollows have been established, creating new homes to support the increasing birdlife in the area. The woodland area around the swamp is scattered with Yellow Box, Black Box and Grey Box. The understorey consists of juvenile canopy species, Eastern Cottonbush and a large cover of introduced grasses and herbs. Wetland plant species are common in the riparian zone and include Cumbungi and Juncus. The margins of the southern swamp and throughout the ephemeral wetland are dominated by Water Couch.
Ephemeral WetlandGum Swamp is an ephemeral wetland, seasonal in nature. Formed from a depression in the ground, the swamp typically holds water for most the year and dries out periodically. In the 1920’s, the neighbouring Forbes Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) was established, discharging secondary treated effluent into the eastern lake of the wetland when water levels are low. The STP was upgraded in 2005 to include an Extended Aeration Intermittently Decanted treatment process. This process treats sewage to a ‘sensitive waters standard’. Currently, quaternary treated effluent is discharged into the swamp at approximately 2.8 ML/day. These regular flows ensure that water levels remain high over summer and during dry times. The western section of the wetland remains ephemeral, filled in the cooler months by rainwater and overflow from the eastern section of the wetland.
An Agricultural RefugeThe woodland surrounding Gum Swamp is used as a Travelling Stock Reserve (TSR). TSRs are parcels of Crown Land reserved for moving and grazing stock. TSRs include stock routes, which are corridors of land that connect smaller watering and camping reserves, generally spaced 10 to 20 kilometres apart (based on a day’s walk for cattle or sheep). There are more than 6,500 TSRs in NSW, covering an area of almost two million hectares - 75 percent of those are located in the western region of NSW. TSRs are important for agricultural productivity, biodiversity conservation, cultural and heritage protection, passive recreation, and provide an emergency refuge of fodder for stock during dry times. Local Land Services is responsible for the care, control and management of about 30 percent of TSRs in NSW, covering approximately 530,000 hectares, including Gum Swamp. Local Land Services aims to conserve and enhance the public asset through managing grazing, controlling weeds and pests, and maintaining infrastructure. Restrictions apply to the use of TSRs in relation to camping, water usage, timber removal, firewood collection, motorbike and four-wheel drive access, fences and mechanical equipment. These restrictions are designed to protect the integrity of the TSRs which are an asset of state significance.
Art Embedded in NatureGum Swamp is home to six installations as part of Sculpture Down the Lachlan (SDL). SDL is a permanent, inland public art trail stretching 100 kilometres between Forbes and Condobolin, featuring over 20 sculptures by some of Australia’s leading creatives.
Gum Swamp Redevelopment ProjectGum Swamp Wildlife Refuge has emerged as one of Forbes’ must-see attractions following a two-year revitalisation of the nature reserve. The Gum Swamp Redevelopment Project included the construction of three double-storey bird hides, the refurbishment of the existing bird hide, construction of 1.5 kilometres of compacted pathways, boardwalks and a carpark, the installation of handrails, wayfinding signage and seating. The redevelopment also included the installation of six sculptures which form part of the Sculpture Down the Lachlan public art trail. The Gum Swamp redevelopment is part of the ‘Boosting the Lachlan Valley Economy Art Project’, proudly funded by the NSW Government’s Restart NSW program through the Regional Growth, Environment and Tourism Development Fund, the Forbes Arts Society, Forbes Shire Council, Lachlan Shire Council and Evolution Mining.