Thomson River Fishway Tender underway

The West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) is calling for public tenders to create a fishway on the Thomson River at Horseshoe Bend.

In July this year, Heritage Victoria granted the WGCMA a permit to proceed with the Thomson River Fishway, subject to conditions. The tender process to find a suitable contractor is now underway, with work expected to commence in early 2019.

Due to the importance of the site, extensive community consultation was carried out to help finalise the fishway design.

WGCMA Chief Executive Officer, Martin Fuller, said the current design balances the significant heritage and cultural values of the site with environmental improvement objectives.

“Heritage Victoria is an independent body tasked with the protection of Victoria’s most significant cultural heritage resources under the Heritage Act.

“Their approval is testament to the work that’s been done to ensure the project strikes the right balance between heritage and environmental considerations.”

The permit includes a range of conditions, which Mr Fuller said will ensure the heritage values of the site are protected.

These include protecting the tunnel from excessive vibration, developing a Heritage Management Plan, independent heritage advice and inspections during planning and construction and the key elements being overseen by the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria.

The successful tenderer will also be required to develop a Construction Environmental Management Plan. Baw Baw Shire Council has granted a permit for vegetation removal and the area will be rehabilitated in accordance with the stringent conditions of the Plan.

More information on the heritage permit P28472 can be found at Heritage Victoria’s website.

Interested parties can download the tender documents from the Tenders Victoria website The tender process closes on 21 September 2018.

The tender process will be conducted in accordance with Government requirements for public tendering.



The Thomson River is one of Gippsland’s most significant and ecologically important rivers, and the creation of a fishway to allow passage between the Gippsland Lakes and the Victorian alpine region is a state priority.

The Horseshoe Bend tunnel was constructed by gold miners in the early 1900s and is an important part of Victoria’s goldmining history, but it has had unforeseen effects on the environment.

Diverting the water flow had an impact on many of the native fish in the Thomson River. The new fishway will see some flows return to the original river course and unlock vast reaches of the upper Thomson and Aberfeldy rivers to endangered native fish for the first time in a century. This will assist migratory species such as the Australian grayling that journey upstream as part of their breeding cycle.

The current design was finalised after considerable input and involvement from the community, including members of the Hannaford family and the Friends of the Horseshoe Bend Tunnel.

A project steering committee of community, local government and WGCMA representatives commissioned several designs and investigations before settling on a solution that shares the flows between the original river course and the tunnel.

The fishway has been designed to look and function like a natural waterway. It will be created in the existing river bed and will help restore the river to its original appearance and preserve the heritage values of the site.

There will be some construction impacts on the surrounding area, including noise and dust, vegetation removal and modifications to the river bend. Throughout all this, the conditions of the permit will ensure the surrounding heritage values of the site are protected, and the structural integrity of the heritage listed Horseshoe Bend tunnel will be closely monitored.

The result will be a low flow and visually low-impact fishway that will look like a meandering waterway.

For more information on the Thomson River Fishway please visit and follow the links from the homepage.