Gwambygine Pool & Historic Homestead

Gwambygine Pool

In 2009 and 2010 the River Conservation Society, with support from Wheatbelt N.R.M., commissioned David Knowles from Spineless Wonders to carry out surveys of Gwambygine Pool. Fauna (macro-invertebrate and herpetofauna) Inventory Survey 2009/10

Gwambygine Pool, river pool, tree lined banks, water birds flying
Gwambygine Pool

Gwambygine Pool is a large, deep permanent riverine pool on the Avon River located near the wheatbelt town of York in Western Australia.

Settled in the 1830’s, the floodplain surrounding this region has been cleared for agricultural purposes and influenced by European settlement longer than most sites within the state of Western Australia. Cave paintings found at Gwambygine Hill show evidence of a significant Aboriginal presence in the area up to and beyond European settlement. For over 30 years Gwambygine Pool, with other pools along the Avon, were focal social points for farming communities living in and around York.

Like many of the Avon River pools Gwambygine pool has been profoundly affected by salinisation and degradation resulting from a River Training Scheme implemented in the 1960’s to mitigate flooding occurrences, and from degradation and land clearing within the catchment areas.

Gwambygine pool is under continuing threat from siltation by mobile sands and silt but is one of the few large and relatively healthy river pools on this stretch of the Avon.

In 1996 there was little data available on the fauna and limnology of this river system. The River Conservation Society instigated a study to record macro invertebrates and limnological parameters over an 18 month period during 1996 and 1997. The results of this study found that Gwambygine Pool supported a wide array of aquatic fauna with approximately 50 species recorded. These included insects, molluscs, crustacea, oligochaetes, as well as five species of fish, oblong turtles and 35 species of bird on the pool and surrounding riparian areas.

turtle in dry grass
Southwestern snake-necked or oblong turtle (Chelodina colliei)

The findings from this initial study and consequent published scientific papers set a standard scientific benchmark for all future inland riverine pool biological surveys. The results of the study led to Gwambygine pool and the adjacent Gwambygine Reserve to be officially recognised and listed as a recognised scientific research area for future academic research to be conducted into the effect of salt loads, nutrient input and degradation of the pool and surrounding riparian zones. Gwambygine Pool supports a unique aquatic and riparian fauna and flora in an area characterised by extreme environmental degradation.

Gwambygine Homestead

Gwambygine Homestead, built in 1836, is one of the earliest colonial buildings still remaining in Western Australia. In 2009 with support from the Royal WA Historical Society and the York Society, the River Conservation Society received Federal Heritage Funding to conserve and restore the building. Gwambygine Homestead is privately owned and the current owners have decided to close it to the public.