A world of rivers in West Gippsland
Published: 28 August 2023

A world of rivers in West Gippsland

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) loves rivers and cares for 40,000 kilometres of designated waterways across the region. All flow to the Gippsland Lakes, Bass Strait and Southern Ocean.  The CMA is preparing to celebrate this World Rivers Day with the release of its new short film ‘Durt’Yowan (Latrobe River): The Life Source’. 

Durt’Yowan, the Gunaikurnai name for the Latrobe River, is one of Victoria’s iconic rivers. Beginning near the Baw Baw plateau, running through the Latrobe Valley and into the Gippsland Lakes, Durt’Yowan has been the life source for people in Gippsland for thousands of years. 

More than 260 kilometres long it supports plants and animals of major conservation importance, and is also a freshwater source for towns, industry, power generation and agriculture. 

“Since the late 1800’s, the Latrobe was coined a ‘working river’. It has been highly modified over time through channel straightening, draining of floodplains, clearing of riparian vegetation, and construction of large dams to make the river work for us,” said Martin Fuller, CEO of West Gippsland CMA. 

“The Latrobe system is undergoing a significant transition triggered by the staged closure of the large coal mines in the Latrobe Valley along with other challenges like climate change and competing demands for the precious water resources.” 

“From challenges, opportunities arise! A large and dedicated collective of community groups and organisations have been working hard to ensure a better future for the Latrobe River.” 

West Gippsland CMA has been working with community groups and organisations to start the long process of rehabilitating the river by reinstating riparian vegetation and the natural river course, restoring wetlands, improving habitat and managing water for the environment. 

The CMA produced the new short film directed by Murray Vanderveer. It explores the history of the river, the challenges and opportunities and features local Gippslanders who are working for the river’s future. 

“World Rivers Day reminds us that we are at the edge of a once in a lifetime opportunity to change Durt’Yowan from a working river into a river that works again and encourage everyone to come and see the film and be part of this positive transition.” 

West Gippsland CMA is hosting free public screenings of the film in Sale on Tuesday 26 September 2023, 7-8 pm and Traralgon on Tuesday 3 October 2023, 7-8 pm with each screening followed by a short Q&A session with people involved in the film.

Tickets for these screenings are available via the following Try Booking links for the venue of your choice.

Synopsis of Durt’Yowan (Latrobe river)

With some big changes on the horizon for the Latrobe River, or Durt’Yowan as Gunaikurnai people have called it for thousands of years, it’s important to know the story behind one of Gippsland’s longest rivers. Coined a ‘working river’, since colonisation the Latrobe has been straightened, its floodplain drained, trees cleared, and dams built all to make the river work for us. All is not lost; we are at the edge of a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the Latrobe from a working river into a river that works again. In this short film you will be shown a brief history of Durt’Yowan including the ups and downs of its life to date and be inspired to help the river in its new chapter. 

The following documents on the Latrobe River are available for you to download:

Transformation of the Latrobe: Pathways for the Latrobe River System (2mb-pdf)
Durt’Yowan Latrobe River Transformation Strategy – 2 page summary flyer (8mb-pdf)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the video contains images and voices of people that have passed.