Rivers of Gold and Western District Lakes


The Yarowee-Leigh and Woady Yaloak Rivers are historic gold mining areas, rich in cultural and environmental value and connected through the Ballarat West Growth Area, while the internationally listed Western District Lakes Ramsar site provides vital habitat for a rich diversity of wildlife, including native and migratory birds and rare plant communities.

The Rivers of Gold and Western District Lakes Project will see the Corangamite CMA engage with a range of partners to manage the ecological character of the Western District Lakes Ramsar site according to the site management plan and improve waterway and catchment health through on-ground works, cultural heritage and citizen science.

The project area includes the Yarrowee-Leigh River (upstream of Leigh Gorge), Lake Wendouree, the Woady Yaloak River and the Western District Lakes Ramsar Site.

This project is funded by the Victorian Government under the fifth tranche of the Environmental Contribution.

Current Projects

The Western District Lakes were listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in 1982. The Ramsar site covers approximately 33,000 hectares and comprises of nine separate lakes within the landlocked Lake Corangamite catchment: Lake Beeac, Lake Bookar, Lake Colongulac, Lake Corangamite, Lake Cundare, Lake Gnarpurt, Lake Milangil, Lake Murdeduke and Lake Terangpom.

This area supports large numbers of migratory shore birds and is an important breeding site for the Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspillatus), the Banded stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus) and Red-necked avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae).

Learn more about Ramsar sites here.

The Western District Lakes Ramsar Program will deliver the management strategies and monitoring requirements set out in the Ramsar Site Management and Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement Plan. This includes development and implementation of an Annual Action Plan in consultation with the Ramsar Site Coordinating Committee, monitoring and on ground works to maintain the site’s ecological character.

As part of the Waterways Protection on-ground works, field officers will monitor past on-ground works sites using the DELWP Riparian Works Review and provide management advice and/or funding to landholders at eligible sites. In collaboration with Landcare Networks, incentives will be provided to landholders for on ground works, prioritising areas that protect the Ramsar wetlands from upstream impacts (sediment movement and weed infestation), have known habitat for Yarra Pigmy Perch and Growling Grass Frog or protect the environmental value of Leigh Gorge.

Access to Country for Traditional Owners will also be negotiated with landholders, particularly at sites where culturally important drought refuge pools exist.

Find our more about the Corangamite CMA Waterway Protection Program here: Waterway Protection Program - Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (

Citizen Science aims to maintain and improve the connections between people and their local waterways. This is undertaken through diverse hands-on activities, such as monitoring water quality, photopoint monitoring at key sites, or e-DNA sampling.

Citizen science activities for the Rivers of Gold & Western District Lakes project will include working with Landcare, Council and volunteers to maintain 12 long term monitoring sites. We will organise tailored events and provide information to community to improve awareness of the lakes and rivers, in partnership with Landcare, Central Highlands Water and City of Ballarat, as well as collaborate with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners to develop a tailored engagement program, including waterbug surveys at Traditional Owner-led events.

Find out more about Citizen Science here.

You can find the Victorian WaterWatch portal here: Waterwatch Portal

Western District Lakes Ramsar sight

Contact Us

Colac Office

64 Dennis Street, Colac VIC 3250
PO Box 159, Colac, VIC 3250
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday

T: 1800 002 262

Geelong office

55-67 Ryrie Street, Geelong VIC 3220
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday

T: 1800 002 262