Indigenous Fishing Club on Yorta Yorta Country are Transforming forgotten Water Reservoirs into Community Fishing Lagoons

Corey WalkerBurnanga club president and Yorta Yorta man Corey Walker. Courtesy of ABC News, 2022.

In collaboration with Goulburn Valley Water (GVW), the Burnanga Indigenous Fishing Club are transforming two decommissioned reservoirs into fishing lagoons for the local community. The reservoirs are located on Yorta Yorta Country in Merrigum, a small town on the outskirts of Shepparton, Victoria (ABC News, 2022). 

One of the reservoirs which will soon be filled with water and fish. Courtesy of Goulburn Valley Water, 2022.

To show the site's connection to the local Aboriginal community, the lagoons have been named ‘Dunyak Moira’ which means ‘fishing lake’ in Yorta Yorta language. Creating the lagoons is a lot more complex than just adding water and fish to the reservoirs. Bushfire Recovery Victoria has donated more than 60 tonnes of tree root balls from the central highlands to create fish habitats. Concrete pipes have also been donated which will provide places for the fish to breed (ABC News, 2022).

Burnanga club president and Yorta Yorta man Corey Walker is very excited about the new project. Walker talked to ABC News (2022) about the positive impact the fishing lagoons will have on the community:

"For our club, this project is all about getting our kids back into recreational fishing, doing environmental and cultural activities and, most importantly, getting the elders to teach that knowledge to our younger generation…The township of Merrigum and surrounds will benefit as well."

Goulburn RiverGoulburn River. Courtesy of Greater Shepparton City Council, 2022.

Since launching in 2020, Burnanga Indigenous Fishing Club has grown to 100 members strong, and it is hoped that the addition of the new fishing ponds will encourage even more people to join. Burnanga plays an important role in the local community, encouraging people of all ages to engage in and learn about Yorta Yorta culture. They also run cultural fishing tours for visitors wanting to learn more about the local environment and culture (Visit Shepparton, 2022).

GVW has started filling the 50 megalitre and 12.5ml craters, and it is expected that keen fishers will be able to cast their lines by spring this year! The lagoons will be filled with yabbies, shrimp and a diverse range of fish, creating the perfect place for locals to gather and fish (ABC News, 2022). 

It’s wonderful to see corporations and Indigenous groups working together to make use of space and recycle resources. You can learn more about the Burnanga Indigenous Fishing Club and their unique tours here