Port Stephens

Physical characteristics

Latitude (ºS) -32.71
Longitude (ºE) 152.20
Catchment area (km2)1 296.8
Estuary area (km2)1,2 134.4
Estuary volume (ML)3 1741516.5
Average depth (m)4 14.1
Roy et al. (2001) classification5 II/3/A
Entrance condition6 O
  1. Derived from DECCW (2010) NSW estuaries and coastal catchments spatial database.
  2. Includes area mapped as open water (see note 1), mangrove and saltmarsh areas (Creese R. G., Glasby T. M., West G. and Gallen C. (2009) Mapping the habitats of NSW estuaries. Industry & Investment NSW Fisheries Final Report Series 113. Port Stephens, NSW, Australia.
  3. Based on areas at 0.6 m AHD (Roper T., Creese B., Scanes P., Stephens K., Williams R., Dela-Cruz J., Coade G. and Coates B. (2011) Assessing the condition of estuaries and coastal lake ecosystems in NSW. Office of Environment and Heritage, Sydney).
  4. Estimated by dividing the total volume at 0.6 m AHD by the total surface area of the estuary including mangrove areas but excluding saltmarsh (Roper et al., 2011)
  5. Estuary group: I = oceanic embayment, II = tide dominated estuary, III = wave dominated estuary, IV = intermittently closed estuary V = freshwater bodies
    Estuary type: 1 = ocean embayments, 3 = drowned valley estuary, 5 = barrier estuary, 6 = barrier lagoon, 7 = interbarrier estuary, 8 = saline coastal lagoon, 9 = small coastal creeks, 11 = brackish barrier lake. Evolution stage: A=youthful, B=intermediate, C=semi-mature, D=mature.
    (P. S. Roy, R. J. Williams, A. R. Jones, I. Yassini, P. J. Gibbs, B. Coates, R. J. West, P. R. Scanes, J. P. Hudson and S. Nichol (2001) Structure and Function of South-east Australian Estuaries. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 53, 351-384)
  6. Entrance conditions: O = open, T = trained, I = intermittent.

Tidal prism

The volume of water moving past a fixed cross section during each flood tide or ebb tide (i.e. slack water to slack water), is referred to as the tidal prism of an estuary.

The following table shows the measured tidal prism at the location specified, along with the tidal range for near the measurement site and at Sydney Harbour.

Location:     the entrance on 30/9/93

Tide state Flow
(106 m3
tidal range (m)
Sydney Harbour
tidal range (m)
Ebb flow 165 1.16 1.1
Flood flow  150 1.18 1.1

Tidal survey

Tidal surveys measure the hydrodynamic behaviour of an estuary during a full tidal cycle. The parameters measured include velocity, water levels, salinity, temperature and pH.

The following tidal surveys have been undertaken on this estuary. A map shows the location and plots of the flows and water levels for the most comprehensive survey.

Copies of tidal survey reports are available from the Estuary Management Program

Date Data collected Figure Report
Jan 1969 Velocity measurements at four lines along southern shore. - MHL153
Jan 1972 Current metering and water levels. - MHL169
Nov 1977 Current metering at three lines for 6 hours on southern side, one tideboard, velocities, discharge, cross sections, suspended sediments, photographs and float tracking. - MHL232
Sep 1993 Current metering at four locations, water levels, discharge and some water quality. - MHL716
Sep 1993 Current metering at four locations, water levels, discharge and some water quality. 1988-27.pdf MHL716

Hydrographic survey

The hydrographic survey provides the depth and physical characteristics of the estuary.

The metadata associated with the survey can be found on the map sheets provided.

Map sheet number  Description Scale     Size
56217s01.pdf Index plan 1:15000 970kb
56217s02.pdf Port Stephens western section 1:2500 495kb
56217s03.pdf Port Stephens central area 1:2500 555kb
56217s04.pdf Port Stephens central area 1:2500 635kb
56217s05.pdf Port Stephens eastern area 1:2500 295kb
56217s06.pdf Port Stephens western section 1:2500 703kb
56217s07.pdf Port Stephens central area 1:2500 735kb
56217s08.pdf Port Stephens central area 1:2500 798kb
56217s09.pdf Port Stephens entrance 1:2500 683kb
56217s10.pdf Port Stephens western section 1:2500 572kb
56217s11.pdf Port Stephens central area 1:2500 642kb
56217s12.pdf Port Stephens central area 1:2500 468kb
56217s13.pdf Port Stephens eastern area 1:2500 306kb
56217.txt Port Stephens xyz data N/A 907kb
Page last updated: 16 January 2013