Shoalhaven River

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Shoalhaven River
Shoalhaven River - near the Great Dividing Range, west of Batemans Bay.jpg
Shoalhaven River, near the Great Dividing Range, west of Batemans Bay.
Australia New South Wales relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Location of the Shoalhaven River mouth in New South Wales
Etymology"Shoals Haven" (Bass in 1797). [1]
Country Australia
State New South Wales
Region Sydney Basin (IBRA), Southern Tablelands, South Coast
LGAs Palerang, Shoalhaven
Cities Nowra, Bomaderry
Physical characteristics
SourceEuranbene Mountain, Great Dividing Range
 - locationwest of Bendethera
 - coordinates 35°58′15″S149°38′3″E / 35.97083°S 149.63417°E / -35.97083; 149.63417
 - elevation864 m (2,835 ft)
Mouth Tasman Sea, South Pacific Ocean
 - location
Shoalhaven Heads
 - coordinates
34°51′S150°44′E / 34.850°S 150.733°E / -34.850; 150.733 Coordinates: 34°51′S150°44′E / 34.850°S 150.733°E / -34.850; 150.733
 - elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length327 km (203 mi)
Basin size7,086 km2 (2,736 sq mi)
Basin features
 - left Kangaroo River
 - right Mongarlowe River, Corang River, Endrick River
Islands Pig (Burraga), Comerong

The Shoalhaven River is a perennial river that rises from the Southern Tablelands and flows into an open mature wave dominated barrier estuary [3] near Nowra on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia.

A perennial stream or perennial river is a stream or river (channel) that has continuous flow in parts of its stream bed all year round during years of normal rainfall. "Perennial" streams are contrasted with "intermittent" streams which normally cease flowing for weeks or months each year, and with "ephemeral" channels that flow only for hours or days following rainfall. During unusually dry years, a normally perennial stream may cease flowing, becoming intermittent for days, weeks, or months depending on severity of the drought. The boundaries between perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral channels are not defined, and subject to a variety of identification methods adopted by local governments, academics, and others with a need to classify stream-flow permanence.

Southern Tablelands Region in New South Wales, Australia

The Southern Tablelands is a geographic area of New South Wales, Australia, located south-west of Sydney and west of the Great Dividing Range.

Wind wave Surface waves generated by wind that occur on the free surface of bodies of water

In fluid dynamics, wind waves, or wind-generated waves, are surface waves that occur on the free surface of bodies of water. They result from the wind blowing over an area of fluid surface. Waves in the oceans can travel thousands of miles before reaching land. Wind waves on Earth range in size from small ripples, to waves over 100 ft (30 m) high.


Location and features

The Shoalhaven River rises on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range, below Euranbene Mountain, about 350 kilometres (220 mi) southwest of Sydney. The upper reaches of the river flow northwards through an upland pastoral district near the town of Braidwood. The river works its way down into a remote canyon east of Goulburn and emerges into the coastal lowlands at Nowra in the Shoalhaven district, where it is spanned by the historic Nowra Bridge. The river is joined by thirty-four tributaries, including the Mongarlowe, Corang, Endrick, and Kangaroo rivers, and descends 864 metres (2,835 ft) over its 327-kilometre (203 mi) course. [2]

Great Dividing Range mountain range in the Australian states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria

The Great Dividing Range, or the Eastern Highlands, is Australia's most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. It stretches more than 3,500 kilometres (2,175 mi) from Dauan Island off the northeastern tip of Queensland, running the entire length of the eastern coastline through New South Wales, then into Victoria and turning west, before finally fading into the central plain at the Grampians in western Victoria. The width of the range varies from about 160 km (100 mi) to over 300 km (190 mi). The Greater Blue Mountains Area, Gondwana Rainforests, and Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Areas are located in the range.

Sydney City in New South Wales, Australia

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

Braidwood, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Braidwood is a town in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, in Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council. It is located on the Kings Highway linking Canberra with Batemans Bay. It is approximately 200 kilometres south west of Sydney, 60 kilometres inland from the coast, and fifty-five from Canberra. Braidwood is a service town for the surrounding district which is based on sheep and cattle grazing, and forestry operations.

Berrys Canal

The estuary has two entrances, approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) apart, that flow into the Shoalhaven Bight within the Tasman Sea of the South Pacific Ocean. The southern entrance is located at Crookhaven Heads and is permanently open. The Shoalhaven River flows south via Berrys Canal to Greenwell Point, where it is joined by the Crookhaven River and then flows east past Orient Point into the bight, north of Culburra. [4] The Berrys Canal between the Shoalhaven and the Crookhaven was constructed in June 1822 by convicts overseen by Hamilton Hume under the direction of Alexander Berry to facilitate ship transport to the original European settlement located in the region. [5] The construction of the canal formed Comerong Island. The canal was dug using own hand tools, and was the first land navigable canal in Australia. Berrys Canal remains one of two navigable canals in New South Wales, the other being the Alexandra Canal.

Tasman Sea A marginal sea of the South Pacific between Australia and New Zealand

The Tasman Sea is a marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean, situated between Australia and New Zealand. It measures about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) across and about 2,800 kilometres (1,700 mi) from north to south. The sea was named after the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman, who was the first recorded European to encounter New Zealand and Tasmania. The British explorer Captain James Cook later extensively navigated the Tasman Sea in the 1770s as part of his first voyage of exploration.

Bight (geography) Shallowly concave bend or curve in a coastline, river, or other geographical feature

In geography, a bight is a bend or curve in a coastline, river, or other geographical feature. It typically indicates a large, open bay, often only slightly receding. It is distinguished from a sound by being shallower. Traditionally, explorers defined a bight as a bay that could be sailed out of on a single tack in a square-rigged sailing vessel, regardless of the direction of the wind.

Hamilton Hume Australian explorer

Hamilton Hume was an early explorer of the present-day Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria. In 1824, along with William Hovell, Hume participated in an expedition that first took an overland route from Sydney to Port Phillip. Along with Sturt in 1828, he was part of an expedition of the first Europeans to discover the Darling River.

The northern entrance is located south of Shoalhaven Heads, and is open intermittently, at times of peak flow and during flood events. [4]

Use for water supply

Tallowa Dam is the only major dam on the Shoalhaven, and is a part of the Shoalhaven Scheme. It impounds the river's lower reaches to form Lake Yarrunga and part of Sydney's water supply. Some water is pumped out of the lake and over the Southern Highlands into Lake Burragorang. Proposals for a much larger water storage at Welcome Reef on the upper Shoalhaven have been shelved.[ citation needed ]

Tallowa Dam

Tallowa Dam, completed in 1976, is a concrete gravity dam with central overflow spillway, located on the Shoalhaven River, downstream from the river's confluence with the Kangaroo River. The dam wall of 325 cubic metres (11,500 cu ft) is 43 metres (141 ft) high and 528 metres (1,732 ft) in length. At 100% capacity, the dam wall holds back approximately 85,500 megalitres and creates the impounded reservoir of Lake Yarrunga that has a surface area of 831 hectares, drawn from a catchment area of 5,750 square kilometres (2,220 sq mi). The spillway has a discharge capacity of 27,600 cubic metres per second (970,000 cu ft/s).

The Shoalhaven Scheme is a dual-purpose water supply and hydro-electric power generation scheme located on the South Coast region of New South Wales, Australia.

Lake Burragorang reservoir

Lake Burragorang is an Australian man-made water supply dammed reservoir.


The Shoalhaven River and its main tributary the Kangaroo River were once renowned as an Australian bass fishery. Unfortunately, Tallowa Dam has been a potent barrier to migratory native fish with estuarine/marine juvenile stages, blocking species including Australian bass from more than 80% of their former range in the Shoalhaven system. Recent stockings of hatchery-bred Bass in Lake Yarrunga are an attempt to remediate the situation.[ citation needed ] A fishway for Tallowa Dam was completed in August 2009. [6] This fishway is designed to allow for the movement of bass and other native fish over the dam. [7] Lake Yarrunga has also suffered the illegal introduction of highly damaging European carp, which are now present in high densities.

The Australian bass is a small to medium-sized, primarily freshwater species of fish found in coastal rivers and streams along the east coast of Australia. It is a member of the family Percichthyidae and the genus Macquaria. Australian bass is an important member of the native fish assemblages found in east coast river systems. It is a predatory native fish and an extremely popular angling species. The species was simply called perch in most coastal rivers where it was caught until the 1960s, when the name Australian bass started to gain popularity.

Common carp species of fish

The common carp or European carp is a widespread freshwater fish of eutrophic waters in lakes and large rivers in Europe and Asia. The native wild populations are considered vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but the species has also been domesticated and introduced into environments worldwide, and is often considered a destructive invasive species, being included in the list of the world's 100 worst invasive species. It gives its name to the carp family Cyprinidae.


Indigenous history

The traditional custodians of the land surrounding the Shoalhaven River, in its lower reaches, are the Aboriginal peoples of the Yuin nation. In the land north of the river, the people from the Wodi Wodi clan are the traditional custodians; while south of the river, the Wandi Wandian clan are the traditional custodians. [8] Some of the culturally important Aboriginal places in the Shoalhaven include Coolangatta Mountain, Bundarwa (Beecroft Headland), Cambewarra Mountain, Didthul or Pigeon House Mountain, Kangaroo Valley, Burrill Lake, and Murramarang Aboriginal Area and its environs. [9] [10]

European history

The explorer and navigator George Bass found the entrance to the Shoalhaven River during his whaleboat voyage down the south coast of New South Wales in 1797. He gave the name Shoals Haven to the river (now known as the Crookhaven River) because of the shoals of mud and sand he found at the river mouth. [1] [11]

Approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of Nowra are a series of properties along the banks of the Shoalhaven River that were a gift to the people of Australia from Arthur Boyd, his wife, Yvonne, and the Boyd Family. Entrusted to the Bundanon Trust, along with further gifts by Boyd, including copyright of all of his artwork, these properties provide an environment that promotes visual arts, writing, music and other performing arts, and the promotion of education and research in the arts. [12]


Ballalaba bridge on the Braidwood-Cooma road Ballalaba bridge over the over the Shoalhaven River.jpg
Ballalaba bridge on the Braidwood–Cooma road
Farringdon Crossing Farringdon Crossing, Farringdon, New South Wales.jpg
Farringdon Crossing
Bombay Bridge Bombay Bridge over the Shoalhaven, Bombay, New South Wales.jpg
Bombay Bridge
Warri Bridge on the Kings Highway Warri Bridge on the Kings Highway over the Shoalhaven.jpg
Warri Bridge on the Kings Highway
New Bridge and remains of old bridge at Oallen Ford New and piers of old bridge at Oallen Ford, Shoalhaven River.JPG
New Bridge and remains of old bridge at Oallen Ford

The river crossings, from its headwaters to its river mouth, include:

See also

Related Research Articles

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Nowra, New South Wales City in New South Wales, Australia

Nowra is a town in the South Coast region of New South Wales, Australia. It is located 160 kilometres (99 mi) south-southwest of the state capital of Sydney With its twin-town of Bomaderry, as at the 2016 census, Nowra had an estimated population of 35,795. It is also the seat and commercial centre of the City of Shoalhaven. Geologically, the city is situated in the southern reaches of the Sydney basin.

Bomaderry, New South Wales Suburb of Nowra, New South Wales, Australia

Bomaderry is a town in the Shoalhaven council district area of New South Wales, Australia. At the 2016 census, it had a population of 6,661 people. It is on the north shore of the Shoalhaven River, across the river from Nowra, the major town of the Shoalhaven, of which Bomaderry is locally regarded as being a suburb.

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Kangaroo River (Shoalhaven) tributary of the Shoalhaven River in New South Wales, Australia

The Kangaroo River is a perennial river of the Shoalhaven catchment located in the Southern Highlands and Illawarra regions of New South Wales, Australia.

2UUU Shoalhaven Community Radio is based in Nowra, a town in the Shoalhaven district of New South Wales, Australia.

Culburra Beach Town in New South Wales, Australia

Culburra Beach, commonly referred to as Culburra, is a town located in the South Coast region of New South Wales, Australia. Located within the Shoalhaven local government area, the town is 18 kilometres (11 mi) east-southeast of Nowra. At the 2016 census, the town had a population of 2,874 and is the regional centre for the coastal villages of Currarong, Callala Beach, Callala Bay and Orient Point.

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Yalwal Town in New South Wales, Australia

Yalwal is the site of a former gold mining town of the same name situated 29 km (18 mi) west of Nowra at the confluence of the Danjera and Yarramunmun Creeks which then forms Yalwal Creek which flows into the Shoalhaven River. It is now the site of a City of Shoalhaven managed picnic area and Danjera Dam. Yalwal is also the name of a modern locality, which includes the former mining town but extends over an extensive area of forests to its south, which largely forms parts of the Morton National Park. It is also the name of a parish, which lies to the north of the former mining town and generally north of the locality of Yalwal, generally in the area of the modern locality of Ettrema.

Bendeela Pondage

Bendeela Pondage, completed in 1972, is an earth and rockfill embankment dam structure located on the Kangaroo River arm of Lake Yarrunga in New South Wales, Australia. It is located between Fitzroy Falls Dam and Tallowa Dam. The pondage, part of the Shoalhaven Scheme, functions as a buffer storage for out-of-balance flow between the two dams during hydro-electric power generation or water pumping at Kangaroo Valley and Bendeela pumping and power stations. The dam has no significant catchment but has been provided with a weir type spillway to protect the dam in the event of operational problems at the two pumping and power stations. The embankment is 15 metres (49 ft) high and 2,118 metres (6,949 ft) in length. At 100% capacity, the dam wall holds back approximately 1,200 megalitres.

Fitzroy Falls Dam

Fitzroy Falls Dam in New South Wales, Australia, is part of the Shoalhaven Scheme, completed in 1974. It consists of four separate earth and rockfill embankments located on the Yarrunga Creek upstream of Fitzroy Falls and about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) southeast of Moss Vale. The main embankment of 760 cubic metres (27,000 cu ft) is 14 metres (46 ft) high and 1,530 metres (5,020 ft) in length. At 100% capacity, the dam wall holds back approximately 9,950 megalitres of water, creating the impounded Fitzroy Falls Reservoir, which has a surface area of 522 hectares, drawn from a catchment area of 31 square kilometres (12 sq mi). The spillway has a discharge capacity of 516 cubic metres per second (18,200 cu ft/s).

Cambewarra Range Nature Reserve nature reserve of New South Wales

The Cambewarra Range Nature Reserve, as part of the Kangaroo Valley Group of Nature Reserves, is a protected area located on the cliffs and plateaus of the Kangaroo Valley in the Southern Highlands and South Coast regions of New South Wales in eastern Australia. The Reserve is situated approximately 150 kilometres (93 mi) south of Sydney, 50 kilometres (31 mi) southwest of Wollongong and 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) northwest of Nowra. The Reserve has a total area of 1684 hectares, and includes 11 privately owned properties. It is critical for it to be pristine for a variety of reasons, not the least the catchment of water, as the Reserve floor flows into the Kangaroo Valley River and the Shoalhaven River, from which the Sydney Water Authority draws water to supply large populations in Sydney and Wollongong.

The Wodiwodi peoples were the Indigenous Australian people of New South Wales.

Berry Mountain, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Berry Mountain is a locality in the City of Shoalhaven in New South Wales, Australia. It lies west of the Princes Highway on the Kangaroo Valley Road between Berry and Kangaroo Valley. It lies about 23 kilometre north of Nowra and about 160 km south of Sydney. At the 2016 census, it had a population of 28. It lies on a ridge and is partly covered by temperate rain forest and partly by grasslands that were formerly used for dairying, but are now mainly used for rural residences.

Liverpool Weir

Liverpool Weir is a heritage-listed weir on the Georges River at Heathcote Road near Newbridge Road, Liverpool, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by David Lennox and built from 1836 by convict labour, directed by Captain W. H. Christie. It is also known as Bourke's Dam. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 13 August 2010.


  1. 1 2 Reed, A. W (1984). Place names of Australia (paperback reprint ed.). Sydney: Reed Books Pty Limited. p. 196.
  2. 1 2 "Map of Shoalhaven River, NSW". Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia. 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  3. Roy, P. S; Williams, R. J; Jones, A. R; Yassini, I; et al. (2001). "Structure and Function of South-east Australian Estuaries". Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science . 53: 351–384. doi:10.1006/ecss.2001.0796.
  4. 1 2 "Shoalhaven River Hydrographic Survey" (PDF). Estuary Management Program. NSW Department of Natural Resources. September 2005 – November 2006. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  5. "Berry, Alexander (1781–1873)". Australian Dictionary of Biography . Retrieved 16 October 2009.
  6. "NSW's first fish lift to save the endangered Grayling" (Press release). Sydney Catchment Authority. 23 August 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  7. New South Wales Department of Primary Industry, Improving Fish Passage in the Shoalhaven (PDF)
  8. "(Draft) Aboriginal protocols" (PDF). NSW Department of Local Government . Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  9. "Aboriginal Heritage management". Human Settlement: Infrastructure services and resources. City of Shoalhaven. 2006. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  10. "Shoalhaven Indigenous History". Shoalhaven Holidays. City of Shoalhaven . Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  11. "Bass in the Famous Whaleboat Voyage". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 26 July 1924. p. 19.
  12. "Mission". About Bundanon. Bundanon Trust. 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  13. "THE OPENING OF THE WARRI BRIDGE". The Sydney Morning Herald . 28 September 1874. p. 3.
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Further reading