The Warby-Ovens National Park, 240 km north east of Melbourne and 10 km west of Wangaratta provides an important connection between the alpine foothills, the Murray River and floodplain. In 2012, two entry points to the Warby-Ovens National Park were impacted by flooding. The gravel and rock crossings at McQuades Bend and Frost Crossing required upgrading, this presented an opportunity for the North East CMA to improve the waterway connectivity for fish as the crossings were a barrier to fish migration.

Improving fish passage

Water Technology, working in conjunction with Gordon Gibson Nominees and the Arthur Rylah Institute, was involved in the preparation of detailed design plans for the construction of the fishways, all the relevant approvals and construction to enable fish passage at Frosts Crossing and McQuades Bend Track at low flows, across the Ovens River floodplain.

The objectives of the project were to provide:

  • Improved fish passage and floodplain connectivity at low flows at Frosts Crossing and McQuades Bend Track.
  • Detailed design and construction to enable fish passage at low flows across the Ovens River floodplain at the two project locations.
  • An improved crossing arrangement on Frosts Crossing and McQuades Bend Track that minimises the alteration to flow characteristics surrounding the crossing, minimises erosion potential surrounding the crossing, minimises maintenance requirements and provides for fish passage in consultation with Parks Victoria.
  • Construction, site layout and supervision for both fishways at Frosts and McQuades Crossings, to be carried out in consultation with North East CMA and Parks Vic.
Before fishway After fishway construction
McQuades Bend

McQuades Bend fishway after contruction

Frost Crossing Frost Crossing fishway after construction

An article on these crossing is available in Water Technology’s Waterlines


Improved fish passage and floodplain connectivity at low flows at Frosts Crossing and McQuades Bend Track.





In the news:

River regulation and the presence of instream barriers are known to impact natural river processes and the movement of fish. This can produce environmental conditions that benefit some of the most invasive species on the planet, such as the common carp, and interrupt natural migratory and breeding cycles of native fish.

The Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) in eastern Australia has over 3,600 instream barriers, which generally consist of dams, weirs, and flow regulators. Recognising the impacts of these barriers on native fish, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) instigated a fishway construction program (the Sea to Hume program) in 2001 to mitigate the impacts of major instream barriers on fish movement. This ambitious program has now re-established longitudinal connectivity to some 2,235 km of the Murray River, catering for the migration of native fish species within the MDB.

Catchment Management Authorities, water authorities and councils are now working towards a similar goal, to re-establish longitudinal and lateral connectivity at instream barriers within their respective jurisdictions. The North East CMA specifically is aiming to improve fish passage at a number of instream barriers by constructing fishways and fish-friendly structures to facilitate passage along the Ovens and Mitta Mitta Rivers. Both riverine systems are known for their recreational fish species, such as brown trout, Murray cod and golden perch, all of which require unhindered movement to complete various aspects of their life-cycle. These riverine systems also harbour threatened species such as Trout Cod and Macquarie perch, while Blackfish and various Galaxias species are also present.

Water Technology has designed fishways at three locations on the Ovens River (Tea Garden Weir, Frosts Crossing and McQuade’s Bend crossing) and one on the Snowy Creek at Mitta Mitta. The development of the designs required Water Technology to work in multidisciplinary teams and consult with local communities to ensure that their needs are also met with the design of the fishways.

Update to the ‘tombstone’ fishway

The North East CMA has produced a podcast series on the Lower Floodplains. The third episode, “Managing the Lower Ovens for the future”, features Water Technology’s Waterways and Ecology Group Manager, Jamie Kaye, talking about the Frost Crossing ‘tombstone’ fishway design (from the 15:16 mark) and the constraints to the site.

Find out about some of our other fishway projects:

North East Catchment Management Authority

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