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Hunter Wetlands springs back to life after good soaking from east coast low

By Anthony Scully, Thursday July 30, 2020 - 13:47 EST
ABC image
Magpie geese rest on paperbark trees at the Hunter Wetlands in Newcastle. - ABC

Six months on from the drought and bushfires that devastated New South Wales, volunteers at the Hunter Wetlands Centre are ecstatic with the recent healthy rainfall.

Board member Christine Prietto, a science educator and former chairperson, said the life-giving rain had delivered an important shot in the arm for the animals that called the Ramsar-listed estuary home.

"If you were here six months ago, you would have seen the water ribbon swamp behind me absolutely bone dry with cracked soils and a very stark landscape," Ms Prietto said.

Wetting and drying cycles were a normal part of the life cycle of estuaries, where seeds and eggs could be stored for years waiting for the arrival of rain.

"Maybe an easy way to think of it in the dormant state is that it's like a packet of dry soup mix," Ms Prietto said.

"If you open a packet of dry soup and you put it in a cup there are bits and pieces in there.

"In a wetlands, when the water comes, all of a sudden there's plants, animals and bird life almost instantly."

Perfect environment for visitors

CEO of the Hunter Wetlands Ken Bayliss said he found it difficult to see the wetlands struggle through the drought.

"It was quite diabolical," Mr Bayliss said.

"We actually had to put plastic tubs out and around the site with water each day, so the birds and the animals could at least get a drink; there was just virtually no water to be had."

Mr Bayliss said recent rainfall had created the perfect environment for visitors to see and experience plants and animals that called the wetlands home.

"This recent rainfall will mean a lot to the visitors, because they can actually see the wetlands in its entirety," Mr Bayliss said.

"It's what wetlands are all about, being [able] over time to dry out totally, and then re-establish themselves when the rains come and boom again."


© ABC 2020

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