Goulburn Weir

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Original weir wall Goulbourne weir old.jpg
Original weir wall

Goulburn Weir is a weir built between 1887 and early 1891 across the Goulburn River near Nagambie, Victoria, Australia. [1] It was the first major diversion structure built for irrigation development in Australia. The weir also forms Lake Nagambie where rowing regattas and waterskiing tournaments are held.

Weir barrier across a river designed to alter its flow characteristics

A weir or low head dam is a barrier across the width of a river that alters the flow characteristics of water and usually results in a change in the height of the river level. There are many designs of weir, but commonly water flows freely over the top of the weir crest before cascading down to a lower level.

Goulburn River river in Victoria, Australia

The Goulburn River, a major inland perennial river of the Goulburn Broken catchment, part of the Murray-Darling basin, is located in the alpine, Northern Country/North Central, and Southern Riverina regions of the Australian state of Victoria. The headwaters of the Goulburn River rise in the western end of the Victorian Alps, below the peak of Corn Hill before descending to flow into the Murray River near Echuca, making it the longest river in Victoria at 654 kilometres (406 mi). The river is impounded by the Eildon Dam to create Lake Eildon, the Eildon Pondage, the Goulburn Weir and Waranga Basin.

Irrigation in Australia

Irrigation is a widespread practice required in many areas of Australia, the driest inhabited continent, to supplement low rainfall with water from other sources to assist in growing crops and pasture. Overuse or poor management of irrigation is held responsible by some for environmental problems such as soil salinity and loss of habitat for native flora and fauna.


The Goulburn Weir allows water to be diverted by gravity via the Stuart Murray Canal and Cattanach Canal for off-river storage in the Waranga basin, for later use in irrigation.

The weir is 209 metres long by about 16 metres high. Its design was considered very advanced for its time, so much so that it featured on the back of half-sovereign and ten-shilling notes from 1913 to 1933. The structure also contained one of the first hydro-electric turbines in the southern hemisphere, used to supply power for lifting and lighting.

After more than 90 years of continuous service, many of the weir's components were in urgent need of replacement. Stabilisation works were done in 1983 and in 1987.

The weir raises the level of the Goulburn River so that water can be diverted, by gravity, along the main irrigation supply channels: Stuart Murray Canal, Cattanach Canal, East Goulburn Main Channel. The weir services nearby farming of crops including wheat, stock and domestic supplies.


The Goulburn Weir under construction November 1889. The Goulburn Weir, Victoria..JPG
The Goulburn Weir under construction November 1889.

Approval for the construction of the Goulburn Weir was granted on the 16th of December 1886, by the passing of The River Goulburn Weir Act 1886 [2] . This act allowed the treasury of Victoria to issue up to £20,000 for the construction of the weir and related works. A further £75,000 was approved under The Water Supply Loans Act 1887. [3]

The construction of the weir began with the construction of six tunnels designed to pass the normal river flow. These would allow the construction of the masonry section of the weir to proceed with the river flows passing through the tunnels underneath. The tunnels were fitted with sluice gates that could be closed once the weir was completed allowing structure to raise the height of the river upstream.

The main body of the weir is constructed from concrete masonry, that is large concrete blocks that were bedded and jointed in cement mortar. It is backed with steps of granite blocks, each to the height of a course (2 feet).

The stone and sand for the concrete was sourced locally, the stone was quarried from a hill two miles (3.2 km) to the north and the sand was obtained from various pits within four miles (6.4 km) of the weir. The granite for the weir was sourced from Mount Black, 15 miles (24 km) to the south west.

The weir was completed, the tunnel sluices closed down and the river allowed to flow over the weir in the early part of December 1890. The water level upstream was slowly raised and storage reached its full supply level towards the end of July 1891.

The final cost of the weir works was £106,262. [4]

See also


  1. "THE GOULBURN RIVER WEIR". The Leader (1603). Melbourne. 25 September 1886. p. 13. Retrieved 1 April 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  2. "River Goulburn Weir Act 1886". AustLII. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  3. "The Water Supply Loans Act 1887". AustLII. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  4. Murray, Stuart (1883). The Goulburn Weir and Its Dependent System of Works. Treasury Gardens, Melbourne: Unknown.

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Coordinates: 36°43′02″S145°10′12″E / 36.71722°S 145.17000°E / -36.71722; 145.17000