In Northeastern Victoria lies the Winton Wetlands (and nearby Green Swamp), a once-thriving 8,000 has grass wetlands surrounded by farmlands with a long history of sheep and cattle grazing. In 1971 the farmers were forcibly displaced, then the area was flooded to create Lake Mokoan. This turned out to be an unmitigated disaster and was finally decommissioned in 2009.
It is an eerie site with thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dead tree stumps, telegraph poles and apparently remnants of some of the building in among the now dry landscape. The trees killed by the flooding of the area, which still remain as sentinels of the past.
Winton Wetlands Restoration
Since Lake Mokoan was decommissioned in 2009, a concerted effort has been put in restore the area to its former wetlands reserve. New trees have been planted as well as grasses to encourage bird and animal life to return.
Most of the water has since evaporated (part of the reason it was such a failure), leaving behind the dead trees that form much of the eerie vista. There are plenty of walking and cycling tracks throughout the parkland, and it has a cafe and rest area as well, making it a lovely little spot for a day trip.
Art in the landscape
One of the most popular reasons for visitors to come to Winton Wetlands is the Outdoor Art Trail, which started in 2016 at the Benalla Street Art Festival when the first water tank mural was painted here (by Guido van Helton), followed by Fish Trees and then one by one more and more. There is a dedicated trail you can follow. Some are super easy to find, while others take a little more exploring.
Nature photography haven
This really is a nature photographer’s playground with birds and several other animals. I myself spent a good 10 minutes with this Superb Blue Fairy Wren and his harem of females, as well as a big mob of kangaroos.
What to take to Explore Winton Wetlands
We headed off in the car, and then by foot, so good sturdy walking boots. I also had my Tamron 70-300mm lens on one camera and my Sony 16-35mm lens on my other camera. There are such large vistas to capture, but then you suddenly need a 300mm to capture a bird or animal.