Belongil Creek

Our water quality monitoring program has shown Belongil Creek to have fair water quality. Find out more about the estuary and its unique features.

Belongil Creek is a lagoon with an intermittently closed entrance on the north coast of New South Wales. The entrance has a history of being artificially opened by council when high water levels threaten infrastructure, including the township of Byron Bay.

The upper estuary links with a large swamp system through a series of drains. A mix of agricultural, residential and industrial development impact on Belongil Creek.

Estuary health and features

Water quality

As part of our water quality monitoring program we assess the water quality and ecosystem health of an estuary using a range of relevant indicators. We sample a subset of the estuaries located between the Queensland border and Taree every 3 years. The most recent sampling in Belongil Creek was completed over the 2021–22 summer when 2 sites were sampled on a monthly basis.

Belongil Creek water quality report card for algae and water clarity showing colour-coded ratings (red, orange, yellow, light green and dark green, which represent very poor, poor, fair, good and excellent, respectively). Algae is rated 'excellent' and water clarity is rated 'poor' giving an overall rating of 'fair' or 'C'.

This report card represents 2 water quality indicators that we routinely measure: the amount of algae present and water clarity. Low levels of these 2 indicators equate with good water quality.

The report card shows the condition of the estuary was fair with:

  • algae abundance graded excellent (A)
  • water clarity graded poor (D)
  • overall estuary health graded fair (C).

Find out more about our estuary report cards and what each grade means. Read our sampling, data analysis and reporting protocols and find out how we calculate these grades.

We have monitored water quality in the Belongil Creek estuary since 2009. This table shows the water quality grades for this estuary over that time.

Belongil River historic water quality grades from 2009-10 for algae and water clarity. Colour-coded ratings (red, orange, yellow, light green and dark green represent very poor (E), poor (D), fair (C), good (B) and excellent (A), respectively).

Grades for algae, water clarity and overall are represented as:

  • A – excellent
  • B – good
  • C – fair
  • D – poor
  • E – very poor.

Physical characteristics

Estuary type: Creek

Latitude (ºS) –28.63
Longitude (ºE) 153.59
Catchment area (km2) 30.4
Estuary area (km2) 0.3
Estuary volume (ML) 87.7
Average depth (m) 0.5
Notes: km2 = square kilometres; m = metres; ML = megalitres.

Water depth and survey data

Bathymetric and coastal topography data for this estuary are available in our data portal.

Land use

The catchment of Belongil Creek is highly disturbed. Cleared land for grazing, rural-residential development, and forestry are the main land uses. Urban development around Byron Bay as well as the town’s industrial estate has also led to significant changes. The hydrology in the upper catchment has been modified through a network of drains. Protected areas contain threatened species habitat, endangered ecological communities and important wildlife corridors.

National and marine parks

The largest conservation area in the Belongil Creek catchment is the Tyagarah Nature Reserve. Belongil Creek falls within the Cape Byron Marine Park.

Community involvement

Byron Bird Buddies is a volunteer community group involved with bird monitoring and conservation, as well as education about local bird species, in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales.

Belongil Creek

Local government management

Local councils manage estuaries within their area unless the estuary is attached to a marine park.

Byron Bay Council manage this estuary and have a dedicated Belongil Creek webpage which contains the Belongil Creek Entrance Opening Strategy. The estuary is also managed as part of the Cape Byron Marine Park.