Balcanoona Creek, Balcanoona
2012 Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Report
- Dry in autumn and spring 2012
- Likely to be low in nutrient levels when wet because the catchment is in a national park
- Some bank erosion caused by flood damage and rabbits regularly accessing the banks and channel
- Riparian vegetation consisted of native trees and shrubs
About the location
Balcanoona Creek is a large stream that rises off the southern side of the Blue Range in the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park and flows in an easterly direction for 65 km through Weetootla Gorge and across Balcanoona Ranges, eventually discharging onto the plains surrounding the north-western edge of Lake Frome; flow only extends onto the plains during exceptionally wet years. The only land use in the 2,685 hectare catchment, upstream from the site sampled, is national park. The monitoring site was located upstream from Arkaroola Road, about 1 km north-west from Balcanoona.
The creek was given a Good rating because the site sampled showed evidence of relatively minor changes in ecosystem structure and function. There was evidence of human disturbance due to the presence of weeds and rabbits accessing the banks but the creek retains many of its natural habitat features including an overstorey of native plants and a wide range of sediment types.
The sediments were dominated by cobble and pebble, with smaller amounts of boulder, gravel, sand and detritus also present. Samples taken from below the surface were grey sands and showed no signs that the sediments were recently anaerobic, or lacking in oxygen. About 10 m of bank showed evidence of erosion caused by past flood damage. Both rabbit and kangaroo faeces were recorded from the channel and banks during both site inspections and may contribute to localised bank erosion.
A few sedges (Cyperus gymnocaulos) were recorded but no other aquatic plants or evidence of any algal remnants was observed at the site. The riparian vegetation was dominated by River Red Gums and acacias over native shrubs, sedges, weeds and introduced grasses on the moderately well vegetated banks (50-79% vegetative cover). The surrounding vegetation at the site comprised native woodland dominated by eucalypts, wattles and paperbarks over native shrubs and understorey species.
Special environmental features
Balcanoona Creek is a largely natural, ephemeral stream in the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park. Few human disturbances are evident due in part to the remote location although large herds of goats and other animal pests such as rabbits occur in the area on occasion. No significant environmental values were recorded from the dry site in 2012 but a few Northern Purple-spotted Gudgeon were seen in a small 1-2 m remnant pool at the site during 1994-1995.
Pressures and management responses
|Feral goats, donkeys and rabbits are exerting excessive grazing pressure on vegetation, causing erosion and adding excessive nutrients to the watercourse.||The SA Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board provides technical advice and incentives for the management of introduced weeds and feral pest animals, as funding permits. Pest management efforts are guided by a region-wide strategy, based on risk assessment, to determine priority locations and species. Funding is actively sought from a number of sources to support region-wide integrated management.|