Region: Otways

Legal Number: LEGL/93-47/1

Plantation: Webster Hill

93-47a Feb 01: Gellibrand River downstream from Stevensons Falls. Pine growing very close to river. Herbicides used on this plantation after logging and associated sediment run-off could play havoc with native fish. The Gellibrand River is the best river for Blackfish on mainland Australia.

Conservation Priority: High

Click here for Otways map.

Plantation where the Secretary CNR retains specified rights to harvest hardwood sawlogs.

Water Catchment Area: GELLIBRAND RIVER CATCHMENT. LAND USE DETERMINATION (LUD) 24/8/83. (LUDs now defined as Special Area Plans under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994).


Hancock Plantations marked with yellow dots on Google Earth image. Other plantations in image owned by Midway.

Click here for more information on Midways who own the properties next to this Hancock plantation location.

Plantation within AKD Softwoods area of supply.

Plantation within SPE Exports (Geelong) area of supply.

This plantation was very likely to be aerially sprayed with 2,4,5-T between 1968 and 1977. The Dioxin TCDD may still exist in soil in this plantation. For more historical data on 2,4,5-T click here. For more information concerning the continuing health crisis concerning 2,4,5-T please forward to here.

This plantation is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and Australian Forestry Standard.

September 07: Recently logged Hancock plantation in regards to location of Gellibrand River . Lack of buffers will not stop erosion from this site, especially in high rainfall.

Approximate location of Stevensons Falls in the Otways.

September 07: Blocked culverts have led to drainage problems in the this plantation.

September 2007: Drainage line, no buffer and large amounts of exposed soil.

September 07: Algal build up in backed up water due to poor drainage. The main drainage line causing the back up of water had burnt logs in it blocking the flow.

September 2007: Burnt logs in a drainage line blocking flow of drainage line causing back up of water.

September 2007: Algal build up in domestic water supply.


September 2007: Gellibrand River. Note buffers

September 2007: Gellibrand River in foreground. What happens when the entire site is sprayed with herbicides?

Herbicides Used by Hancock in Pine Plantations - Ballarat Region Victoria

Herbicide Label Rate max as kg/ha Used to control Notes Application
Clopyralid 2.55 Woody Weeds Highly Toxic/Potential Ground water Contaminant air or ground
Glufosinate Ammonium 1 Woody Weeds    
Glyphosate 3.6 Herbaceous and woody weeds, noxious weeds    
Hexazinone 4 Woody Weeds Ground Water Contaminant Aerial, ground, spot
Metsulfuron-Methyl 0.06 Woody Weeds, Noxious Weeds Potential Ground Water Contaminant Aerial, ground or spot
Triclopyr 3 Woody and Noxious Weeds   Ground, spot, basal bark


November 2004: Gellibrand River catchment, near the confluence of Barramunga Creek in the Otway Ranges. Hancock control about 50 hectares of pine at this location. The adjoining plantations that straddle both sides of the Gellibrand River are owned by the notorious woodchipping company Midways. This should be a real pretty site when these slopes get logged.

February 2007. Hancock logging on left, Midways on right.

"Land System: Steep slopes of ranges (Aire).

Aire land system: The steeply dissected spurs and ridges on the wetter parts of the Otway Range comprise the Aire land system, the largest land system in the study area... The soils are young and moderately fertile ... Pine forests cover large areas of this land system... The main hazards to land use are landslips and sheet erosion. Losses in organic matter and soil structure are often apparent following clearing." Soil Conservation Authority 1981.

Geology: Lower Cretaceous sandstone, mudstone.

Landscape: Deeply dissected hills.

Soils: Brown gradational soils. Forms of soil deterioration: Sheet, rill and landscape erosion, nutrient decline, surface compaction.

Known landslide area.

THREATENED FISH NOTES - GELLIBRAND RIVER: Best Blackfish stream on mainland Australia.

Responsible Authority: Colac-Otway Shire Council

Quote of the year 2002: "Colac Otway Shire 6/12/02. Freedom of Information Request.

In response to your request for information relating to the use of herbicides by plantation companies, I advise that there are no records within Council, as plantation companies are not yet required to advise either Council or the Department of Natural Resources and Environment of their intention to conduct herbicide applications.

Yours sincerely - Freedom of Information Officer - Colac Otway Shire".

Plantation Catchment: (west) One main trib (HW) Lardner Creek East Branch/Lardner Creek/Charleys Creek/Gellibrand River. One creek flows into Asplin Creek/Gellibrand River. (east) large unnamed creek enters Gellibrand River.

Catchment Managment Authority: Corangamite Catchment Management Authority

September 2007: Inside the plantation

Hancock Watch Site visit Feb 01: This plantation is actually located in two separate locations. The first location is at Upper Gellibrand on the Gellibrand River. Plantation overlooks a popular tourist site - Stevensons Falls. Plantation is located on rather steep slopes 30o+ in some places. A large area of native vegetation appears in the centre of the plantation and is marked as a DNRE licence area. Some of the gullies were dominated by old blackwoods with epiphytes. Some other acacia species also seen. It appeared that eucalypts appeared a little further up from this site, but due to steepness of the area I did not check out. This will be a public relations nightmare when logging goes ahead!

The other plantation area connects up with Webster Hill Plantation 93-48/1. It straddles the Lardner Creek East Branch and tribs of Asplin Creek. I checked out the DNRE licence area on Lardner Creek East Branch. Some old growth was sited in this area down by the small bridge. Some older trees also seen along roadside stretching along western side of the plantation. It appeared that the older vegetation near the bridge was a buffer zone, with what appeared to be recent harvesting of pine occurring in the background. Some of this plantation further south was quite old and probably due for harvesting soon. Some slopes quite slope and the standard of the roading inside the plantation was poor - especially at the gullies. Also blackberry infestation.

Also see November 2004 Logging Updates Page

A report on the Gellibrand River (South Otway) Catchment - Soil Conservation Authority 1979.

p1 The Gellibrand River is an extremely important source of domestic water for the south of the western district. . . p2 Over the drier months the Carlisle River - Camperdown Otway main pipeline is unable to meet peak demand for water supply in Warrnambool, and this led to the Water Commission installing the South Otway system. The South Otway pumps and pipeline provide 13/ML/day through the drier months of the year, flow in the Gellibrand River at the pump station for the months of December to March averaging 183 ML/day . . .

p8 The combination of high rainfall and steeply dissected slopes in the Otway Ranges suggest high potential hazards of soil erosion and water supply degradation. Any operation involving soil disturbance is likely to cause short-term quality deterioration, and possibly longer term problems. The high rainfall produces good growing conditions, but major soil losses can occur before natural regeneration stabilises a disturbed area, and an active revegetation program is preferable. . .

p10 Harvesting of Mountain Ash necessitates clearfelling, followed by managed re-establishment. During logging the following changes occur: a change in the hydrological balance of rainfall, vegetation, and soil; removal of the protective litter on the surface; disturbance of soil along roads, tracks, snig tracks, and log landings; and hard-surfacing of access roads and tracks. Together these cause increases in surface runoff and sheet and rill erosion, resulting in colloidal material and sediment in run off . . . Private pine planting operations . . . are accompanied by similar potential water supply hazards to hardwood forestry. However because of the shorter rotation, management operations are more frequent. . .

Report on a proposed land use determination for the Gellibrand River Catchment - Soil Conservation Authroity 1983

p2 Most of the water from the Gellibrand River Catchment which is used for water supply, is taken directly from the river or its tributaries at pump or gravity offtake. Apart from the case of the Colac Waterworks Trust Reservoirs, there is no significant water detention to allow settlement of suspended solids, clarification and self-purification over time. The quality of water taken into the water supply pipeline is therefore the raw quality of the river flow. The quality of the river water is in turn responsive to events in the catchment. High peak flows associated with heavy storms may initiate streambank erosion; any earth disturbance in the catchment may cause deterioration in runoff water quality due to increases in turbidity and suspended sediment. There are a number of land uses and management practices occurring in the catchment which necessitate earth disturbance and which may cause erosion. These include land clearing, road construction, hardwood and softwood operations, extractive industries and some farming activities...

p57 The lower cretaceous sediments in the Otways are known for their relatively high landslide hazard. Factors considered area prone to landsliding include;

*the presence of a previous slope failure

*high annual rainfall

*moderate to steep slopes

*suitable lithogies

*deep weathering

*favourably orientated discontinuties

p59 Diversion of drainage water onto steep slopes, for example from road culverts and cutoff drains, can also exacerbate potentially unstable slopes. Slumps, mainly in the surface soil material, are more common than large-scale rock and soil landslides. Slumps may occur in fill material, on steep cut slopes or on hillsides after heavy rain or removal of vegetation. Where such earth movements occur close to drainage lines, they can be a major source of turbidity and sediment.

Most of the landslides ... occur in the AIRE land system and on freehold land which had been cleared. This includes an area on Lardner Track, now the Webster Hill softwood plantation. While Cooney noted that dense tree cover probably obscured many landslides in parts of his study area, there is still an apparent link demonstrated between land clearing and landslides. The large landslides which have occurred in the catchment can be considered dormant. On the other hand, quite a few of the small landslides are active. Cooney noticed a very strong tendency for small landslides to occur in previously failed materials, that is, within prior large landslides.

p100 . . . These existing and proposed plantations are located mainly on slopes of the AIRE land system, where the management problems of agriculture allow relatively cheap land purchase. Plantations have been established on both previously cleared pasture land and on blocks which had been under hardwood timber. The cleared land was often run-down, having blackberries in the drainage lines. The standing timber on the forested blocks was usually on steep slopes. . .

p101 Plantations have also been established on the deep soils and gentle slopes of the BEECH FOREST land system. However, the manager of one company believes that pines grown in such high rainfall areas grow too fast, are too light, and have a grain too coarse for structural use of the timber. Cases of toppling and multiple leaders have been observed in some Pinus radiata plantations on exposed sites on the Otways ridge and slopes. These problems are thought to be associated with the high rainfall conditions, and the high levels of residual nitrogen and phosphorus on sites previously used for agriculture (Flinn D.W., 1982, pers. comm.). . .

Some plantation establishment has been attempted on the grey sand soils, with very poor results, particularly where there are hardpans in the soil profile...

A study of the Land in the catchments of the Otway Range and Adjacent Plains - Soil Conservation Authority 1981.

p143 "Both establishment and harvesting of hardwood and softwood forests cause serious changes to the natural hydrological balance. Pine establishment on disused agricultural land and previously forested land has led to widespread deterioration. The steep north and west facing slopes of Lorne, Forrest, Moggs Creek, Aire, Mt Mackenzie, Bunker Hill and Yahoo Creek land systems are the most severely affected. Sheet erosion losses can be minimised by working in coupes along the contour, and by maintaining adequate vegetative cover with litter layers over the soil surface.

The incidence of landslips increases following harvesting, when the binding effect of tree roots is removed and the soil is subject to saturation for longer periods. The study area share the current trend to reduce the total area of productive forest land and manage this smaller area for higher yields. As with agriculture, nutrients removed in forest produce need to be replaced through the use of fertilisers. The fertiliser requirements of soils designated for long-term hardwood and softwood production require investigation.

p142 Steep slopes in and around drainage lines are more stable under hardwood than softwood forestry, because of longer growth period and more selective logging practices."

Gellibrand River: Flows from mountainous forested country to grazing land, boulder and mud bottom, mostly sand bottom in the middle reaches. Catchment has been partially modified and water is at times turbid. Limited access to the upper reaches upstream of Gellibrand which carry abundant smaller river blackfish, brown trout, eels and tupong. Upstream of the Colac-Gellibrand Road bridge is closed to all fishing May-December. Largest size Blackfish in Victoria and trophy size brown trout are taken from this river. Estauary has Australian salmon, eels, mullet and some bream and estuary perch.

Source: A Guide to the Inland Angling Waters of Victoria by BR Tunbridge, PL Rogan, CA Barnham. Department Conservation and Environment. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, 123 Brown St, Heidelberg, 3084. (4th ed - 1991)

93-47b Feb 01: Native vegetation in DNRE/Hancock licence area (triangle shape inside plantations. Midways woodchip mill plantations (Ex Smorgons Industries) on the right side of photograph. Upper Gellibrand River downstream from Stevensons Falls. This native forest will most likely be logged.

93-47c Feb 01: Native vegetation in DNRE/Hancock licence area. Upper Gellibrand River downstream from Stevensons Falls. This native forest could most likely be logged.

93-47ci Feb 01: DNRE/Hancock concession zone. This native forest might possibly be logged.

93-47d Feb 01: DNRE/Hancock licence area - Lardner Creek East Branch. This native forest might possibly be logged.

93-47e Feb 01: Lardner Creek East Branch - Older remnant vegetation including old growth.

93-47f Feb 01: Old growth DNRE/Hancock licence area. Lardner Creek East Branch. This native forest might possibly be logged.

93-47g Feb 01: Indigenous vegetation Lardner Creek East Branch Catchment.

93-47h Feb 01: Indigenous vegetation Lardner Creek East Branch Catchment.

93-47I Feb 01: DNRE/Hancock concession area - Lardner Creek East Branch. This native forest will most likely be logged.
Victree Gellibrand River Australian Grayling Blackfish Trout Short Finned Eels Tupong Bream Colac-Otways High