Through hell and high water

While most farmers have welcomed recent rain, the beautification of Willow Park has inadvertently caused flood levels to remain high in nearby paddocks, causing headaches for Rosedale farmer Tim Bowman.
While most farmers have welcomed recent rain, the beautification of Willow Park has inadvertently caused flood levels to remain high in nearby paddocks, causing headaches for Rosedale farmer Tim Bowman.

THE beautification of Willow Park, Rosedale, has inadvertently caused flood levels to remain high in nearby paddocks.

Drains filled with debris at Willow Park are causing blockages, meaning only a small amount of water can filter from flooded paddocks and into the Latrobe River.

During recent works undertaken to brighten up the park, a number of trees planted along the bank of the creek, meaning excavation machinery cannot reach the creek in order to dig out any blockages and allow more water to flow through.

Rosedale farmer Tim Bowman, whose paddock nearest the Willow Park bridge currently resembles something of a lake, said he wanted the problem fixed urgently.

"I pointed out to all the project managers that the drain needed cleaning out so this [flooding] wouldn't happen," he said.

"There's floodgates in there, but the doors can't work properly because they are all choked up with weeds."

Willow Park is on public land, so locals cannot tamper with the creek's drainage or undertake their own excavations.

Mr Bowman explained while the recent rainfall was not unprecedented, he was cautious of how long large volumes of water stayed on the ground.

"If the water lays there for a fortnight or a month it'll damage the pasture," he said.

"Up until the end of June, we'd only had six inches for the year out of 24 inches of rainfall."

Mr Bowman has moved more than 200 head of cattle since the floods hit, and said it would be a "mixed blessing" if it continued to rain.

"A fortnight ago they [the cattle] were drought affected and now they are flood-affected."

As well as the drains, Mr Bowman said he would also like to see the stock route at Willow Park upgraded.

With many farmers using the route to walk their stock through Willow Park and across Stock Crossing Bridge over the Latrobe River, timber railings on the bridge have been left in a sorry state from stock continually pushing and rubbing against them.

Mr Bowman has made makeshift repairs himself, including clamping sections of fencing together, and said he wanted to see the dirt track used as a stock route coming off Rosedale-Heyfield Rd and leading into Willow Park properly upgraded.

"None of this is megabucks, they've spent 1.5 million [on beautification works], if they spent another couple of thousand they would nearly solve all these problems," he said.

A Wellington Shire Council spokesperson said the recent works in Willow Park primarily involved access and landscaping improvements, and did not involve modification of drainage paths through and around the park.

Council is only responsible for drainage relating to Willow Park itself, with other drainage infrastructure being the responsibility of the beneficiaries.

Regional Roads Victoria is responsible for drainage relating to the highway, West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority is responsible for drainage affecting rivers and waterways, and private property owners are responsible for drainage relating to their own property.

Council said it will investigate concerns relating to the existing fencing on Stock Crossing Bridge.

The access track between Willow Park and the Rosedale-Heyfield Rd is not maintained by council.

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