Tweed River

Our water quality monitoring program has shown the Tweed River estuary to have good water quality. Find out more about the estuary and its unique features.

The Tweed River estuary is one of the busiest waterways in New South Wales. The estuary is classed as a barrier river estuary with an open, trained entrance. Major tributaries to the estuary include the Cobaki Creek and Terranora Creek systems.

Located between Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah on the far north coast, the Tweed River estuary is valued for its recreational activities by the local community and is used for commercial fishing and diving operations.

The Tweed River and catchment environment has high biodiversity. It has significant subtropical rainforest habitat and over 140 species of fish have been recorded in the estuary. The estuary also provides habitat for mammal, bird, reptile and plant communities.

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 the Tweed River was completed over the 2018–19 summer when 2 sites were sampled on a monthly basis.

Tweed River 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 'good' and water clarity is rated 'excellent' giving an overall rating of 'good' or 'B'.

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.

This report card shows the condition of the estuary was good with:

  • algae abundance graded good (B)
  • water clarity graded excellent (A)
  • overall estuary health graded good (B).

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 Tweed River since 2009. This table shows the water quality grades for this estuary over that time.

Tweed 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: Barrier river

Latitude (ºS) –28.17
Longitude (ºE) 153.56
Catchment area (km2) 1054.8
Estuary area (km2) 22.7
Estuary volume (ML) 59,954.6
Average depth (m) 2.6

Tidal exchange volume

Tidal exchange volume or tidal prism data is available for this estuary. This data was recorded in 1988.

Tide state Flow
(106 m3)
Local tidal
range (m)
Sydney Harbour
tidal range (m)
Ebb flow 13.49 1.55 1.83
Flood flow 6.91 1.02 1.34
Notes: km2 = square kilometres; m = metres; m3 = cubic 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 Tweed River catchment is highly disturbed. It supports a broad range of agricultural industries such as sugarcane, beef, dairy, fruit and vegetable growing. The township of Murwillumbah is located in the centre of the catchment and the large urban area of Tweed Heads surrounds the estuary. The parks and reserves within the catchment are recognised for their ancient ecological communities with evolutionary links to Gondwana.


Find out about water use in the Tweed River, including information about major water users, real-time flow data, and environmental and water sharing plans.

Tweed Heads webcam

The Tweed Heads bar crossing web camera provides real-time video of conditions within the river entrance immediately offshore to help with bar crossings and boat safety.

Tweed Sand Bypass

Tweed Sand Bypassing is a joint project of the NSW and Queensland governments that aims to maintain a safe and navigable entrance to the Tweed River. It involves a sand transport system that collects sand from the southern side of the river entrance and transports it to the northern side to help maintain beaches on the Gold Coast.

National and marine parks

Conservation areas in the Tweed River catchment include:

There is no marine park associated with this estuary.

Citizen science projects

  • Platypus are found in freshwater streams in the Tweed River catchment. The Tweed Platypus Project aims to protect and restore platypus habitat in the Tweed area and secure populations in the shire.

Community involvement

Local government management

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

Tweed Shire Council manage this estuary. The council has produced several reports that focus on the estuary including ecological assessments, recreational-use studies and coastal management action plans.