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The Shoalhaven River, west of Batemans Bay

The Shoalhaven River is a river on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia.



The Shoalhaven rises on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range about 350 kilometres southwest of Sydney. The upper reaches 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 estuary has two entrances, a southern one at Crookhaven Heads that is permanently open, and northern one at Shoalhaven Heads which is open intermittently during floods. [1] The entrances are 5km apart, and around 150km south of Sydney. A short canal between the Shoalhaven and the Crookhaven was convict constructed in the 1820s under the direction of Alexander Berry to facilitate ship transport to the original European settlement there. [2] The construction of the canal formed Comerong Island.

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. However proposals for a much larger water storage at Welcome Reef on the upper Shoalhaven have been shelved.


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. A fishway for Tallowa Dam was completed in August 2009. [3] This fishway is designed to allow for the movement of bass and other native fish over the dam. [4] Lake Yarrunga has also suffered the illegal introduction of highly damaging exotic carp, which are now present in high densities.


  1. ^ NSW Department of Natural Resources. "Estuaries in NSW". Retrieved 19 October 2009.  
  2. ^ "Australian Dictionary of Biography". Retrieved 16 October 2009.  
  3. ^ Sydney Catchment Authority (23 August 2009). "NSW’s first fish lift to save the endangered Grayling". Press release. Retrieved 20 October 2009.  
  4. ^ New South Wales Department of Primary Industry, Improving Fish Passage in the Shoalhaven,  

Gehrke, P.C., Gilligan, D.M. & Barwick, M. (2002) Changes in fish communities of the Shoalhaven River 20 years after construction of Tallowa Dam, Australia. River Research and Applications 18: 265–286.

Coordinates: 34°52′S 150°44′E / 34.867°S 150.733°E / -34.867; 150.733



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