Wagonga Inlet

Our water quality monitoring program has shown Wagonga Inlet to have excellent water quality. Find out more about the estuary and its unique features.

Wagonga Inlet is an estuary located on the south coast of New South Wales with the township of Narooma situated around it. The estuary is classed as a lake with an open, trained entrance.

Tributaries that flow into Wagonga Inlet are the Billa Bilba, Burrimbidgee and Punkally creeks. The inlet contains important habitat for fish, birds and plants. It also supports wetlands, mangrove forests, a sand spit and seagrass beds.

Wagonga Inlet is popular for recreational activities such as fishing and enables access to Montague Island.

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 between Wollongong and the Victorian border every 3 years. The most recent sampling in Wagonga Inlet was completed over the 2020–21 summer when 3 sites were sampled on a monthly basis.

Wagonga Inlet 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 'excellent' giving an overall rating of 'excellent' or 'A'.

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 excellent with:

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

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 Wagonga Inlet since 2011. This table shows the water quality grades for this estuary over that time.

Wagonga Inlet historic water quality grades from 2011-12 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.

As part of our Beachwatch program we assess swimming suitability at 1 swimming site in Wagonga Inlet between November and March to calculate the suitability grade. Sampling is ongoing. The grade reflects the most recent 100 water quality results to March 2021. Find out more about how we monitor beach water quality.

Local government area Swim site name Grade
Eurobodalla Wagonga Inlet Good

Estuarine, lake and lagoon water can sometimes be unsuitable for swimming, especially after rainfall when stormwater and wastewater can overflow into swimming areas. Learn more about what the grades mean and how we grade swimming sites on our beach classification webpage.

Water sampling and laboratory analysis was funded by Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Physical characteristics

Estuary type: Lake

Latitude (ºS) –36.21
Longitude (ºE) 150.13
Catchment area (km2) 93.3
Estuary area (km2) 6.9
Estuary volume (ML) 39,101.3
Average depth (m) 5.7

Tidal prism

Tidal prism data is available for this estuary. This tidal prism data was measured in 1986.

Tide state Flow
(106 m3)
Local tidal
range (m)
Sydney Harbour
tidal range (m)
Ebb flow 6.34 1.49 1.89
Flood flow 6.64 1.24 1.57
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 catchment of Wagonga Inlet has relatively low disturbance. Over 80% of the catchment is forested and this includes a portion of Gulaga National Park. Urban and grazing areas around Narooma form about 10% of the catchment.

Wagonga Inlet webcam

The Narooma bar crossing web camera shows real-time video of conditions within the entrance to Wagonga Inlet to help with bar crossing and boat safety.

National and marine parks

Citizen science projects

  • iNaturalist’s Plants of Eurobodalla is a citizen science project that monitors plants found in the Eurobodalla region. 

Community involvement

Local government management

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

Eurobodalla Shire Council manage this estuary, which is also managed as part of Batemans Marine Park.