On Thursday 31st October, Banrock Station continued its commitment to rejuvenate its wetland area by artificially refilling nearly 300 hectares of lagoon, with wine enthusiasts, nature lovers and tourists alike once again enjoying the incredible sight of the wetland’s diverse ecosystem coming to life.

Mimicking the seasonal cycle of drying and refilling the wetland area brings immense benefits to the native wildlife and flora. Drying the wetlands allows Banrock Station Wines to limit the invasion of European Carp and refreshes the wetland soil, while rewetting the area replenishes the habitat for more than 300 animal and plant species during the spring months.

The nearly 1,000 hectares of restored wetland that surround the Banrock Station vineyards is listed by the International Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance – making it a destination for travellers around the world. It’s not just native birds who flock to the property; visitors are welcome to explore boardwalks and enjoy wine tastings and meals at the Wine & Wetland Centre. It’s a showcase of sustainable architecture, renewable materials and minimal environmental footprint.

The Banrock Station Environmental Trust has been set up to support conservation projects all over the world and is funded by part proceeds of every sale of Banrock Station wine. The financial commitment to date is over AUD $6 million, to 130 projects in 13 countries. The Trust supports the ongoing maintenance of the Banrock Station wetlands as well as a number of other projects including a partnership with WWF Australia to support marine turtles in the Great Barrier Reef.

When purchased in 1994, the Banrock Station property was severely degraded after over a century of sheep grazing. A massive undertaking by the Banrock Station Trust has seen the area’s native wetlands and woodlands restored, creating a healthy and sustainable wetland habitat.

In January 2017, following high river flows, Banrock Station moved to dry the wetlands for six months in an effort to:

1) Limit the impact of the carp that enter the wetland during high flow periods.
2) Improve wetland soil health by stopping the build up of Acid Sulphate Soils.
3) Allow native trees and plants to germinate.
4) Preserve our unique biodiversity.
5) Return water to the river and make it available for other Murray River ecosystems.

After a successful dry period, Banrock Station is now allowing the natural flow of water from the River Murray to refill the wetlands, mimicking the natural drying and wetting cycle that is necessary to maintain this very special Australian ecosystem. Banrock Station has partnerships with the federal and state governments for the provision of environmental water allocations. The water being used to refill the wetlands has been granted by the South Australian Government in recognition of the site’s values and ongoing commitment of Banrock Station in maintaining this ecologically significant site.

Wetland manager Tim Field oversaw the opening of the regulating gate and manual refilling of the wetland and has been keenly anticipating the significant change the water will initiate in the wetland’s lifecycle.

Mr Field, who has worked on restoring the wetlands for the past eight years, says Banrock Station offers an opportunity to see a unique and healthy Australian wetland ecosystem functioning similarly to how it would have two hundred years ago.

“Since European settlement, more than 50% of all Australia wetlands have been lost, of which 90% were within the Murray Darling Basin. Now more than ever it is invaluable to maintain a handful of healthy wetlands during drier times for the flora and fauna to utilise as a safe haven. When the conditions change, the wildlife can then redistribute themselves across the landscape”, Mr Field says.

Amy Kelly, Cellar Door Manager is also very excited. “Enjoying lunch and a glass of Banrock Station wine from our cellar door, whilst overlooking the wetland and vineyard is incredibly relaxing. People who visit can taste wine at the cellar door, have a meal and also have the opportunity to take self-guided tours, bird watch or simply appreciate the beauty of the wetlands.”

Once the wetland is full, Field and his team will conduct surveys and report on the growth of wildlife and flora in the wetland and surrounding area. The wetland will remain inundated until summer, when Banrock Station will reduce water levels mimicking summer-drying.

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