The challenge

Warby-Ovens National Park lies at alpine foothills in Victoria, 240km northeast of Melbourne. The park provides an important connection between the forested mountains and nearby Murray River and floodplain.

In 2012, two access points into the national park were damaged by floods. Rather than simply repairing these accesses, the North East Catchment Management Authority saw an opportunity to also improve the waterway for fish passage.

The old crossings had been a barrier to fish migration. The new plans for vehicle access needed to:

  • improve fish passage and floodplain connectivity at low flows
  • minimise alteration to flow characteristics, while also minimising maintenance requirements and the potential for erosion.

Design and construction of fishway passages and vehicle access on the Ovens River


Warby-Ovens National Park


North East Catchment Management Authority

Our solution

Water Technology worked in conjunction with Gordon Gibson Nominees and the Arthur Rylah Institute to:

  • prepare detailed design plans for the fishways
  • obtain relevant approvals
  • construct the crossings to allow fish passage.

We consulted carefully with North East Catchment Management Authority and Parks Victoria to ensure the design was robust and fit for purpose.

Managing salinity is one of the most significant environmental challenges facing the basin.

Murray – Darling Basin Authority

The bigger picture

River regulation and instream barriers can affect natural river processes and the movement of fish. The conditions produced often benefit some of the most invasive species on the planet, such as the common carp. The natural migratory and breeding cycles of native fish can also be interrupted.

The Murray Darling Basin has over 3,600 instream barriers, such as dams, weirs and flow regulators. In 2001, the Murray Darling Basin Authority began working to mitigate the impacts of major instream barriers on fish movement.

An ambitious fishway construction program has now helped re-establish longitudinal connectivity to around 2,235km of the Murray River.

Catchment management authorities, water authorities and local councils are now working toward a similar goal. The North East Catchment Management Authority is improving fish passage at a number of instream barriers by constructing fishways and fish-friendly structures along the Ovens and Mitta Mitta rivers.

Both of these rivers are known for their recreational fish species, such as brown trout, Murray cod and golden perch. These fish require movement throughout the river to complete their life cycle. The Ovens and Mitta Mitta rivers are also important habitats for threatened species, such as trout cod and Macquarie perch. Blackfish and various Galaxias species are also present.

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