The Gwydir in profile

Flock of brolgas in flight against a blue sky

Brolga in flight. Photo C Hayne

The water catchment of this valley is home to a mosaic of wetlands, from marshes and shallow waterholes to broader floodplain woodlands inundated only during significant flooding.

Planning for the future

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is developing a Long Term Water Plan for the Gwydir catchment.

The plan intends to improve the management of water for the environment and maximise outcomes from available flows.

Aims and objectives spanning five, 10 and 20 year timeframes will be included in the plan and guide the use of environmental water under a range of conditions.

OEH will work with the Environmental Water Advisory Group as part of the process with local, traditional and scientific knowledge informing the final plan.

Important environmental assets including fish, bird and plants will be identified and objectives set to support their ongoing and improved health.

Ecosystem functions such as waterbird breeding, fish movement and nutrient cycling will also be identified as part of the process.

The Long Term Water Plan is one of nine being developed for catchments across the state. It forms part of the NSW Government's commitment to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

At the same time, DPI Water is developing Water Resource Plans for the nine catchments, outlining the rules for access and use of consumptive and planned environmental water.

Together, they aim to achieve an agreed balance of outcomes between the environment and other water users.

More information

For more information go to Long Term Water Plans or contact:

Cristina Venables - Office of Environment and Heritage
Phone: 02 6229 7085

Environmental water

The Gwydir catchment extends from the Northern Tablelands to the Northern Plains, where it joins the Barwon River, covering an area of 26,596 square kilometres.

Environmental watering is generally focused on the river and wetlands systems west of Moree, where the Gwydir River branches into two defined systems: the Gwydir Wetlands, consisting of both the Gingham Watercourse and Lower Gwydir (Big Leather) River; and the Mehi River, which includes the Mallowa and Moomin systems to the south.

Providing habitats for wildlife

Environmental water in the Gwydir valley supports a range of plant and animal life including:

  • coolibah woodlands, river cooba, water couch marsh and common reeds
  • the state's largest stand of marsh club-rush sedgeland
  • breeding habitat for colonial nesting waterbirds, as well as habitat for migratory bird species listed under international agreements
  • native fish such as Murray cod, silver perch, olive perchlet, purple spotted gudgeon and eel-tailed catfish.

Important wetlands

There are four Ramsar-listed wetlands within the Gwydir wetland system – Windella, Crinolyn and Goddard's Lease, and Big Leather on Old Dromana, which is also part of the Gwydir Wetlands State Conservation Area.

Indigenous connection

The Gwydir wetlands are the country of the Kamilaroi people, and includes more than 160 cultural heritage sites that have been recorded in and around the wetlands, including burial sites, scar trees and stone artefacts.

Working together

The Gwydir Environmental Contingency Allowance Operations Advisory Committee (ECAOAC) provides local input into Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) decision-making and water management as a recognised Environmental Water Advisory Group (EWAG).

The ECAOAC assists in the preparation of annual environmental watering plans and advises on specific managed environmental water releases throughout the year.

The OEH manages environmental water in the Gwydir catchment in partnership with the Gwydir ECAOAC, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, Water NSW, NSW Office of Water, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and local land managers and water users.

Environmental water planning in the catchment is supported by the following regulations and plans:

The allocation of environmental water is outlined in Environmental water use in New South Wales: Outcomes 2015-16 (PDF 9.2MB) report.

View a map (PDF 320KB) showing the location of environmental watering areas in the Gwydir valley.

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Page last updated: 08 September 2017