Natural resource management plan for the brockman river

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Reptiles and amphibians

One hundred species of reptiles (83 species, one of

which is an introduced exotic (Hemidactylus frenatus

from south-east Asia) and amphibians (17 species) have

been recorded in the Brockman River catchment

(appendix 4). 

The long-necked tortoise, Chelodina oblonga, which is

widespread in the southwest, is dependent on wetland or

stream habitat. An abundance of these tortoises are

found in the Chittering Lake Reserve. However, despite

road signs warning motorists of tortoises crossing the

roadways, many are killed on Great Northern Highway

and Chittering Road as they negotiate traffic to reach

suitable egg-laying sites. 

A particularly vulnerable species is the Carpet python

(Morelia spilota) (plate 3). They are rarely seen and are

killed in fires including hazard reduction burns on

private land. This python pictured in Plate 3 was later

killed in a wildfire on private property.

Plate 1: A Star Sun Orchid (Thelmytra stellata) on a

road verge.

Plate 2: A western swamp tortoise (Pseudemydura

umbrina) released into the wild in 2000.  This animal has

a radio transmitter attached to its shell.

Plate 3: A vulnerable species, carpet python (Morelia



Water and Rivers Commission

Natural Resource Management Plan for the Brockman River Catchment


River training in the Brockman River, particularly in the

Chittering Valley, in the early twentieth century, land

degradation, erosion and loss of riparian vegetation has

increased silting of the waterways.  The silt fills the

deeper pools in the creeks and river reducing the summer

and drought refuges for aquatic fauna. Without these

refuges, fish such as the freshwater catfish (Tandanus

bostocki) cannot survive in the river. These catfish are

now restricted to the lower Brockman River where it

continues to have a summer flow.

The native riverine fishes found in the Brockman River

and tributaries include the western minnow (Galaxias

occidentalis), nightfish (Bostockia porosa) a species

closely related to the giant Murray cod of the eastern

states, pygmy perch (Edelia vittate), western hardyhead

(Leptatherina wallacei) and Swan River goby

(Pseudogobius olorum) (Allen et al, 2002).

A small fish was collected from the drainage system

between Mogumber Swamp and Lake Wannamal that

belongs to the family Gobiidae. Whether this is a Swan

River goby or another species is yet to be determined.

The introduced species Gambusia affinis is very

common within the creeks and wetlands.


Little study has been carried out on invertebrates within

the catchment. A number of invertebrate studies on ants

has been done as part of mine site rehabilitation for

ALCOA at Pinjarra while recent work in the wheatbelt

has looked at the species richness and abundance of

invertebrates in trees such as Wandoo (Eucalyptus


There is a wide range of aquatic invertebrates found in

the rivers of the southwest with a range of life cycles,

distributions and abundances. Adaptations of these

species to specialised niches make them useful

indicators of changes in river conditions. For example,

Bunn (1982) in Olsen and Skitmore (1991) used the

presence of the mayfly nymphs (Tasmanocoenis

tillyardi), which is often found in sediment rich areas, as

an indicator of sedimentation in disturbed catchments in

the Darling Range.

Baseline data for the Brockman River has been

established using Waterwatch protocol and aquatic

invertebrates to monitor the health of the river. Larger

invertebrates found within the Brockman River are

marron (Cherax tennuimanis) and the introduced yabby

(Cherax destructor albidus).

The importance of invertebrates as key components of a

variety of food chains that support other animal

populations cannot be underestimated. Further research

into the ecology of invertebrates and their role within the

ecosystem is needed.

The community has a vital role to play in conserving

native wildlife. This can be done by protecting remnants

of native vegetation; undertaking revegetation projects

and creating linking corridors between remnants,

particularly on privately owned land.  

Table 5: Category of threat for rare and priority fauna in the Brockman River catchment.


Category of threat





Rare or likely to become extinct.



Western Swamp Tortoise

Rare or likely to become extinct.



Tammar Wallaby

Priority List P4- Conservation  dependent




Priority List P4- Conservation  dependent




Priority List P4- Conservation  dependent




Water and Rivers Commission

Natural Resource Management Plan for the Brockman River Catchment

2.2 Economic, community and

environmental values of our

natural resources

2.2.1 Agriculture/horticulture

The Shire of Chittering is a significant contributor to the

agricultural production of the south west of Western

Australia. In 1996/7 it accounted for 2.5% of all

farmland with a gross value of agricultural production

(GVAP) estimated at $23.3 million, a total value added

impact of agriculture (TVA) estimated at $57 million and

9% of south-west nursery, flower and turf production.

This represents the greatest economic input for the Shire

of Chittering and employs the largest portion of the

population (Bureau of Statistics, 2001).

Animal products derived from pasture are the most

extensive agricultural landuse followed by broadscale

crops and horticulture (figure 8) (Cook and Hatherly,

1997). The northern part of the catchment is mostly

agricultural with cereal, beef, pigs, sheep and wool the

major agricultural products with some horticultural

products such as grapes and citrus. In the Chittering

valley, production is mostly beef, sheep, citrus and


Expansion of horticulture and viticulture in the

catchment is limited by the lack of suitable irrigation


















Figure 8: Proportion of Gross Value of Agricultural Production (GVAP) (Total $23 million) by

commodity: 1996/97. (Cook and Hatherly, 1997).


Water and Rivers Commission

Natural Resource Management Plan for the Brockman River Catchment

2.2.2 Rural living

The opportunity to live and enjoy a rural lifestyle is the

major reason why people relocate from the city. Hence,

development of rural residential areas have been demand

driven in recent times and has grown considerably,

particularly in the southern part of the Brockman River

catchment. The area provides a rural lifestyle but is close

enough to the city for people to travel daily to their place

of employment. 

Surveys conducted by the Shire of Chittering show that

people living in the Shire wish the area to maintain its

“rurality”. However, a projected population growth from

2,600 in 1996 to 12,046 in 2026 (Ministry for Planning,

1999) indicates considerable expansion will take place.

It needs to be noted that not all the Shire of Chittering or

North Swan (City of Swan) lies within the catchment

boundaries. Careful planning is needed if the area within

the Brockman River catchment is to retain this rural

lifestyle. The pressure for development will increase to

accommodate an increasing population. 

2.2.3 Tourism & recreation

Tourism within the area has potential but is under-

developed despite its proximity to Perth. The scenic

qualities, rural outlook and wildflowers do draw visitors

to the area and the Chittering Valley drive is popular for

day-trippers. Small enterprises involving farm stays,

citrus orchards, vineyards and wineries have some

appeal for these visitors with door sales and short-stay

accommodation. However, tourist oriented enterprises

are generally small and family operated thus tourism

may remain small with limited economic benefit to the

local economy (Shire of Chittering, 1999). 

2.2.4 Landscape amenity

Residents and visitors alike enjoy the landscape of the

Brockman River catchment and the Chittering Valley.

Important features of that landscape are the major river

valley of the Brockman River, the foothills, the

waterways and the wetlands. 

The lower reach of the Chittering Valley is enclosed with

well-vegetated steep valley sides and relatively dense

vegetation cover, particularly the area to the east within

the Avon Valley National Park. Further north, the middle

reaches of the valley widens and is mostly cleared valley

floors of a predominantly agricultural landscape. Granite

outcrops and boulders protrude from the surrounding

landscape. Native vegetation can be seen in the 78-

hectare reserve, Blackboy Ridge. The upper reaches of

the Brockman River broaden forming the well vegetated,

seasonal wetlands of Lake Chittering-Needoonga

surrounded by mostly cleared red alluvial valley soils.

North of Bindoon the river valley becomes a

paleochannel dominated by Lake Wannamal, Lake

Mogumber and a suite of seasonal wetlands along the

fault line and west on the Dandaragan Plateau. A number

of west flowing streams have cut back into the Darling

Plateau creating gravelly and rocky valleys. 

The Chittering Valley has been designated as a Linear

River Greenway under the Avon Arc Strategy and is of

the highest scenic value with one of the most attractive

rural, hill landscapes in the Avon Arc Strategy Study

area (Western Australian Planning Commission, 1999). 

2.2.5 Spirit/sense of place. Aboriginal heritage and

European settlement.

A sense of place shows most clearly in the way the

community feels about and uses the landscape. 

George Seddon, 1972

Aboriginal occupation of the Chittering area is at least

38,000 years and the nomadic people probably ranged

the Brockman River Valley for food, although this has

not been confirmed through specific research in the area.

Carbon dating of the campsite at Upper Swan and work

undertaken on artefacts from a stone tool factory in

Walyunga National Park does substantiate the antiquity

of Aboriginal occupation (Graham, 2001).

The area lies within the boundaries of the Nyungar and

a variety of dialects were spoken. The distribution of

these dialects is unknown but the Yued (sometimes spelt

Juat) occupied the Wannamal area. In 1833 this area was

in the tribal district of Mooro in the territory of Chief

Yellagonga (Buchanan, 1997). The Yued are also

thought to have occupied the Chittering area with the

Whadjuk to the south (Tindale, 1974), the Balardon to

the east and the Amanu to the north.

By the early 19th century the Yued had refined their

culture in balance with the environment. They did not

own the land - they were part of the land. While climate

change and fickle seasons created abundance and

hardship, the Yued adapted to and were at ease with their

environment (Graham, 2001). 


Water and Rivers Commission

Natural Resource Management Plan for the Brockman River Catchment

The first recorded journey to the Chittering Valley by

Europeans was in April 1835 by George Fletcher Moore

and William Locke Brockman. They took up land grants

in the area in January 1843. 

James Byrne was the first European to take a lease in the

Wannamal Area in February 1870 (Buchanan, 1997).

Since these times the landscape has changed

considerably. With European settlement came clearing

for agriculture to produce food for an ever-increasing

population of the Swan River Colony. In more recent

times peri-urban development has begun to filter into the

area as the population of Perth continues to increase.

Chittering Valley. An eden in the hills - a road of

many memories.

Lower Chittering is a pocket paradise in the

everlasting hills…

Even the extensive piggery which smudges one of its

fairest vales is forgotten by the average visitor when

he passed it and viewed the orangeries carpeting the

rich alluvial soil each side of the singing brook.

The Valley of the Lower Chittering is a continuation

of the series of creeks, gorgeous alluvial flats, pools,

swamps, and slowly moving streams that have, for

centuries, cut and cleansed a way from New Norcia

down to where it confluences with the lower Avon

and becomes the Upper Swan.

In summer it is a purling though placid stream, shady

and verdant and fringed with lovely trees, giant gum

and sweet-scented wattle, sheoak, peppermint,

willow, pine, stringy bark and banksia and ti-tree or

paperbark …..

A few days away in the glorious orchards, forests,

farmlands and pine-scented plantations of Lower

Chittering is a tonic to the system, and a glance into

the glories of the benefactor of all human beings -

Mother Nature!

Abridged article from Swan Express, 9 July, 1926

2.2.6 Biodiversity

Biodiversity - the variety of living things, habitats and

ecosystems, is under threat, not so much by increasing

numbers of people but where they live and what they

consume (Meffe and Carroll, 1994). However, people

living in the catchment are becoming more informed

about the need to maintain and enhance biodiversity and,

as a result, have become more concerned by its loss.

Many have responded by protecting and enhancing

natural vegetation on their properties through

covenanting and the Land for Wildlife Program. This

important part of biodiversity conservation has 33 Land

for Wildlife properties (1908 Ha) registered in the Shire

of Chittering, 20 of these have been assessed and 13

properties are awaiting assessment. This is a total of 993

hectares of remnant native vegetation registered with

Land for Wildlife with 665 hectares of remnant

vegetation protected (pers. Comm. Penny Hussey,

CALM). Other areas are protected through Conservation

Reserves, State Forests and other Reserves managed by

CALM for the Conservation Commission and allocated

locally for specific biological reasons. The Conservation

Estate in the Brockman River catchment for the

conservation of flora and fauna is listed in table 6.

The Department of Defence Bindoon Training Area

(BTA) is treated as a conservation area under the WA

Regional Forest Agreement and an environmental

Management Plan was prepared in 1998.

2.2.7 Intrinsic

Biodiversity, land and landscape has environmental

value. It has value to human well-being providing such

things as food, medicine, nutrient cycling, oxygen

production, scientific knowledge and natural beauty. But

it is also intrinsically valuable as an end in itself. We are

capable of valuing other things for their own sakes, as

well as for what they do for us. This is our custodial

responsibility to future generations and, for this reason,

our natural resources need to be managed to avoid

decisions that are irreversible (Meffe & Carroll, 1994).


Water and Rivers Commission

Natural Resource Management Plan for the Brockman River Catchment

Table 6: Lands managed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management in the Brockman  River


Reserve Name








Avon Valley 

National Park


Includes part of NR 

National Park 

41938 (Moondyne) and NR 



Betts Nature Reserve.

Conservation of 



Name is State approved.

flora and fauna


Burroloo Well Nature

Conservation of


Name is unofficial


flora and fauna


Chittering Lakes

Conservation of



Includes reserves 42560,

Nature Reserve


42935 and 44713 [5g 

Conservation and 

recreation reserve].



State Forest



Name is unofficial, 

Forest 61

proposed Conservation 

Park: Interim forest 

conservation area.


Mt Byroomanning 

Conservation of



Nature Reserve. 

flora and fauna


Nature Reserve

Conservation of 


Un-named, known as 

flora and fauna

Mooliabeenie Nature 



Udumung Nature 

Conservation of



flora and fauna


Wannamal Lake 

Conservation of 



Nature Reserve

flora and fauna


Mogumber Nature 

Conservation of



Additional areas suitable


flora and fauna

for the short necked swamp 

tortoise have been 

purchased in 2001.

Source: P Dans, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Mundaring 2001.


Water and Rivers Commission

Natural Resource Management Plan for the Brockman River Catchment

3.1  Framework for improved natural

resource management.

National outcomes

The National Standards and Targets Framework specify

eight national outcomes. These are aspirational

statements about desired natural resource outcomes,

which are;

•  The impact of salinity on land and water resources is

minimised, avoided or reduced.

•  Biodiversity and the extent, diversity and condition of

native ecosystems are maintained and rehabilitated.

•  Populations of significant species and ecological

communities are maintained or rehabilitated.

•  Ecosystem services and functions are maintained or


•  Surface and groundwater quality is maintained or


•  The impact of threatening processes on locations and

systems, which are critical for conservation of

biodiversity, agricultural production, towns,

infrastructure and cultural and social values, is

avoided or minimised.

•  Surface and groundwater is securely allocated for

sustainable production purposes and to support

human uses and the environment, within the

sustainable capacity of the water resource.

•  Sustainable production systems are developed and

management practices are in place, which maintain or

rehabilitate biodiversity and ecosystem services,

maintain or enhance resource quality, maintain

productive capacity and prevent and manage


The Framework also identifies 10 Matters for Targets.

These are;

• Land 


• Soil 


•  Integrity of native vegetation communities.

•  Integrity of inland aquatic ecosystems (rivers and

other wetlands).

•  Integrity of estuarine, coastal and marine habitats.

•  Nutrients in aquatic environments.

•  Turbidity/suspended particulate matter in aquatic


• Surface water salinity in freshwater aquatic



Significant native species and ecological


•  Ecologically significant invasive species.

Regional outcomes

The key guiding principles for natural resource

management in the Swan Region are adopted from

Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) principles

with a focus on;

•  Recognizing environmental values in sustaining

ecological health conditions and beneficial uses.

•  Managing the pressures on environmental values

across the whole Region, in particular, recognizing

the essential need to conserve the Region’s

biodiversity through the development and

implementation of local, regional and state strategies. 

•  Efficiently and fairly allocating rights to use and

enjoy natural resources across the Region to the

benefit of the natural environment and those who live

in it – now and in the future.

• Enhancing and supporting the role of local

government in planning for environmental

management that is consistent with regional and state


• Integrating the work done by government and

community in developing partnerships in managing

natural resources with shared responsibilities and


•  Acknowledging future uncertainties and the need for

a capacity to change.

•  Incorporating regular audit and review of plans and


•  Adopting a precautionary principle approach (Swan

Catchment Council, 2002).

3. What we need to do in

the catchment


Water and Rivers Commission

Natural Resource Management Plan for the Brockman River Catchment

The natural resource outcomes of this management plan

need to be linked to the outcomes of the national and

regional framework outlined.

3.2 Managing water for improved

quality and sustainability.

Landholders and the community are aware of increasing

salinity in the waterways, groundwater and dams of the

Brockman River catchment. This decline in water

quality has reduced the suitability of water for domestic

and irrigation use and, in many cases, water is even

unsuitable for livestock. The catfish that was once

abundant in the upper reaches of the Brockman River

and lakes is now found only in the lower, fresher reaches

of the river.

Phosphorous and nitrogen from fertiliser use, organic

matter, agricultural chemicals draining from farmland

and orchards are also degrading water quality in the

Brockman River catchment.  Hydrocarbons in

stormwater washed from roadways and industrial sites,

and slow leakages from fuel tanks, are also a concern.

Excess nutrients and pollutants degrade aquatic

ecosystems making it difficult for plants and animals to


Table 7: Salt loads as recorded at the monitored gauging


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