Fencing Off The River

East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and East Gippsland Water approached us regarding the need to restrict our cattle from accessing the Mitchell River since our property is upstream of the water harvesting point that supplies household water to several neighbouring towns including Bairnsdale, Lindenow and Paynesville.

The idea was not to re-establish a fence on the original boundary along rocky and inaccessible terrain, but rather to establish a fence line that supported the division of farm land from bush, effectively extending the riparian zone along the Mitchell River. The new road that extends the length (east to west) of the property, parallel to the river, was the ideal path for the new fence. We agreed to establish a 3.5km fence line on the upper side (farm land) of the road and around a gully that contained well established native trees. Effectively, we were to move 42 hectare (104 acres) under riparian management and make void of cattle. A government grant was received to cover the cost of the fence, establish an off-stream watering system and assist with weed management. This project is featured on the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority website [PDF].

Once the new fence line was pegged out and the GPS coordinates recorded, a path 1-2 dozers wide was cleared of vegetation. The fence consisted of six wires, three hot and three cold, galvanised star pickets, concrete strainers, stays and blocks and the occasional maxi-post for minor bends.

The maxi-posts are heavier grade steel galvanised star pickets with notches to attach a standard star picket as a stay. Another star picket, driven in at an angle, is used to anchor the maxi-post down and reduce the chance of lifting, especially in a dip. Plastic insulators are replaced with ceramic insulators due to the extra pressure of the bend. This technique is useful for bends up to about 30-40 degrees.

It doesn’t matter how far you think you are clear of a buried pipe, you will still hit it. The water bubbling to the surface is a clear indication! This was relatively straight forward to repair as a joiner spans beyond the width of the star picket.

The fence was required to be electrified as part of the agreement. A new Speedrite 6000i Energizer was installed in the shed and connected to the shed solar supply. The “i” version of these units are remote control ready which is very useful when checking and repairing line shorts. We also installed a number of circuit breakers along the fence line to allow for segmentation when fault-finding.

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