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
Shoalhaven Heads
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
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.


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]

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.

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 ]


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.


Indigenous history

The traditional custodians of the land are Jerrinja tribal peoples the surrounding Shoalhaven River, in its lower reaches, are the Aboriginal peoples of the lower catchment are Jerrinja tribal peoples which are the traditional custodians of the Shoalhaven . [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]

The upper part of the Shoalhaven river, in the district around modern-day Braidwood, is the traditional land of the Walbanga people. [11]

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] [12]

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. [13]


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:

Historically, there was once a ford crossing at the former village of Larbert. [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

City of Shoalhaven Local government area in New South Wales, Australia

The City of Shoalhaven is a local government area in the south-eastern coastal region of New South Wales, Australia. The area is about 200 kilometres (120 mi) south of Sydney. The Princes Highway passes through the area, and the South Coast railway line traverses the northern section, terminating at Bomaderry. At the 2016 census, the population was 99,650.

Hamilton Hume

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 find the Darling River.

Alexander Berry

Alexander Berry was a Scottish-born surgeon, merchant and explorer who was given in 1822 a land grant of 10,000 acres (40 km2) and 100 convicts to establish the first European settlement on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia.

Nowra, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Nowra is a city 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. As of the 2016 census, Nowra has an estimated population of 20,039. Situated in the southern reaches of the Sydney basin, Nowra is the seat and commercial centre of the City of Shoalhaven.

Bomaderry, New South Wales Suburb of Shoalhaven, 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 City of Shoalhaven, of which Bomaderry is locally regarded as being a suburb of the city.

Kangaroo River (Shoalhaven)

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

Mongarlowe, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Mongarlowe is a village in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia in Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council. In former times, it was also known, in various contexts, as Little River, Monga, and Sergeants Point.

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.

The Shoalhaven Scheme is a dual-purpose water supply and Pumped-storage Hydroelectricity scheme located on the South Coast region of New South Wales, Australia.

Tallowa Dam Dam in Shoalhaven

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).

South Coast (New South Wales) Region in New South Wales, Australia

The South Coast refers to the narrow coastal belt from Shoalhaven district in the north to the border with Victoria in the south in the south-eastern part of the State of New South Wales, Australia. It is bordered to the west by the coastal escarpment of the Southern Tablelands, and is largely covered by a series of national parks, namely Jervis Bay National Park, Eurobodalla National Park, and Ben Boyd National Park. To the east is the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, which is characterised by rolling farmlands, small towns and villages along a rocky coastline, interspersed by numerous beaches and lakes.

Jerrinja is the name of an Aboriginal Australian people from the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Their traditional lands cover from Crooked River in the north to Clyde River in the south, from the coast in the east to the mountains in the west. It includes the areas of Shoalhaven which include Jervis Bay, Culburra Beach, Orient Point, Greenwell Point and Shoalhaven Heads.

Oallen Town in New South Wales, Australia

Oallen is a locality in the Goulburn Mulwaree Council area, New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the Shoalhaven River and the Oallen Ford Road about 97 km southeast of Goulburn and 106 km southwest of Nowra. The Oallen Ford Road has recently been upgraded to improve the connection from Canberra and Goulburn to Nerriga, Nowra and Jervis Bay. At the 2016 census, Oallen had a population of 141.

Larbert, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Larbert is a locality in the Queanbeyan-Palerang Region of the Southern Tablelands region of New South Wales. It lies mostly north of the Kings Highway between Bungendore and Braidwood where it crosses the Shoalhaven River. At the 2016 census, it had a population of 39.

Durran Durra Town in New South Wales, Australia

Durran Durra is a locality in the Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council, New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the road from Braidwood to Nowra about 15 km north of Braidwood and 100 km east of Canberra. At the 2016 census, it had a population of 107. It consists mainly of grazing country.

Marlowe, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Marlowe is a locality in the Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council, New South Wales, Australia. It is bounded by the left bank of the Mongarlowe River and the right bank of the Shoalhaven River. It lies on the road from Braidwood to Nowra about 24 km north of Braidwood and 96 km southwest of Nowra. At the 2016 census, The Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded it as having a population of nil, although it does have at least one house. It consists mainly of forest and grazing country. Marlowe includes the "rural place" and former village of Charleyong in a loop of the Mongarlowe River at 35°14′57″S149°55′02″E.

Liverpool Weir Dam in Liverpool

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.

The Wool Road

The Wool Road was a historic road in New South Wales, Australia, that ran from Nerriga to what is now called Vincentia on Jervis Bay. It was constructed privately in 1841, using convict labour. Its purpose was to provide a shorter route to a seaport for wool grown at Braidwood and beyond.

Currowan Town in New South Wales, Australia

Currowan is a locality in the Eurobodalla Shire, on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. At the 2016 census, it had a population of 53.


  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 2006 – 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. "Tindale Tribes - Walbanga". Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  12. "Bass in the Famous Whaleboat Voyage". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 26 July 1924. p. 19.
  13. "Mission". About Bundanon. Bundanon Trust. 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  14. "THE OPENING OF THE WARRI BRIDGE". The Sydney Morning Herald . 28 September 1874. p. 3.
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  17. "Plan of the village of Larbert and suburban lands [cartographic material] : Parish of Larbert, County of Murray, Land District of Braidwood, N.S.W., 1888". Trove. Retrieved 16 January 2021.

Further reading