The Murray region spans more than 40,000 square kilometres across a range of environments, from the steep alpine slopes in the east to the vast native grasslands and riverine floodplains in the west. Nationally significant areas include Kosciuszko National Park, the Murray river, and the Central Murray red gum forests that are recognised as important wetlands under the Ramsar Convention. The Murray Catchment has always been an important landscape supporting a large Aboriginal population. There are many important cultural locations throughout the catchment that are of state, national and international significance, and these landscapes continue to support our communities throughout the region.
The catchment’s population of around 105,000 people is concentrated along the Murray and Edward–Kolety river systems in towns such as Corowa, Moama, Deniliquin, Tocumwal, Holbrook, and our only major city, Albury. Many of these population centres are closely linked to nearby Victorian communities and services. Many rural villages also service their local and often remote communities.
Land and water resources within the Murray catchment support diverse agricultural enterprises, including cropping, grazing and horticulture. There is also an increasing interest in mineral and coal deposits. Extensive water supply infrastructure—including Australia’s largest irrigation network and the famous Snowy Mountain Hydro-Electric Scheme—supplements low rainfall areas to support viable towns and industries.
Much of the catchment’s multibillion dollar economy therefore depends on continuing access to, and the productivity of, its natural resources. Approximately one-third of our residents are directly involved in agriculture alone.
Although there are significant physical and climatic differences between east and west, issues identified by the catchment community are often similar. For example, the need to control weeds and pests, strengthen community cohesion, improve infrastructure and services, and sustainably manage soils and rivers are consistent across the catchment. A universal willingness also exists to look after ‘our patch’, but many people are limited in their capacity to do so.