One of the recent SEANA excursions was to Tang Tang Swamp, which is a shallow freshwater meadow in the Loddon River catchment. Locally it is recognised as being a high value wetland due to its habitat value for brolga breeding and for thousands of nomadic waterbirds. We were fortunate to see several brolgas on our drive to the swamp, which is located 6km east of Dingee on the Dingee-Rochester Road.
Tang Tang Swamp is listed in the National Directory of Important Wetlands. The ecological vegetation communities are Red Gum Wetland dominated by Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Carex spp. (sedge) and Eleocharis spp. (spike rush) and the adjoining Plains Grassland, dominated by a mixture of native grasses including: Austrodanthonia spp., (Wallaby Grass) and Austrostipa spp., (Spear grass).
A grazing license was held at the swamp until the late 1990s but now the reserve is managed by Parks Victoria. The trees have suffered through prolonged dry conditions and possibly salinity issues, but more recently a large number of possums are causing stress in the trees. They are still very impressive and seem to have a more bluish foliage and an almost weeping habit.
The understorey amongst the red gums is mostly a sedge species called Poong’ort, Carex tereticaulis. According to a book on traditional aboriginal food, fibre and healing plants by Nelly Zolla & Beth Gott, this sedge has very strong fibres running along the lengths of the stems. The stems can be split into long fine fibres to make baskets.
It seems reasonable to assume that Tang Tang Swamp would have been an area visited by the local aboriginal people. It is interesting to imagine the craft of basket weaving taking place on the shores of the swamp, as it was at Lake Condah in south west Victoria.