The Murrumbidgee catchment

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The Murrumbidgee Catchment occupies an area of 84,000 square kilometres, extending west from Cooma to Balranald and south from Temora to Henty. It is centred around the Murrumbidgee River, which is approximately 1,600 kilometres in length, from its source in the Kosciuszko National Park to its junction with the Murray River near Balranald. The river forms a significant part of the wider Murray-Darling Basin. Its annual flows total around 4.4 million megalitres.

Murrumbidgee Catchment


The population of the catchment is approximately 520,000, the majority of which is accounted for by Canberra (estimated population 358,222, as of June 2010; ABS 2011a), the national capital, and Wagga Wagga (est. pop. 63,500, as of June 2010; ABS 2011b), a major regional city.


Major Urban Areas

Upper catchment: Canberra, Queanbeyan, Yass, and Cooma.
Mid catchment: Wagga Wagga, Cootamundra, Gundagai, Narrandera, Tumut, Junee and Henty.
Lower Catchment: Griffith, Leeton, Hay, Coleambally, and Balranald.

In all, 29 local government areas overlap or are engulfed by the catchment. Roughly 85% of the catchment is in private hands. Land use practices found in the Murrumbidgee include grazing, cropping, dairying, wine production, horticulture, and forestry. Agriculture in the region is valued at approximately $1.9 billion dollars per year. Tourism accounts for another $500 million.

Several areas of relatively undisturbed vegetation in the region are gazetted as national parks, nature reserves, and state conservation areas. Under the system of classification used by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities, the catchment straddles the Riverina, Murray-Darling Depression, NSW South Western Slopes, Cobar Peneplain, South Eastern Highlands, and Australian Alps bioregions. The Riverina, NSW South Western Slopes, and Cobar Peneplain are all considered to be underrepresented in the National Reserve System. Nevertheless, several areas of high conservation significance can still be found in the catchment, including Kosciuszko National Park and Brindabella National Park.

References and Resources