Queanbeyan River

Queanbeyan River

The Queanbeyan River joins the Molonglo River at Oaks Estate just within the Australian Capital Territory. The headwaters of the Queanbeyan River are approximately 70 kilometres east-southeast of Queanbeyan near the village of Jerangle. The major tributaries of the river (moving upstream) are; Burra, Urialla, Tinderry, Ballinafad, Groggy, Woolpack, Sherlock, Lyons, Towneys and Mile Creeks. These creeks are all upstream of Googong Dam.


In the town of Queanbeyan, the river is crossed by several roads, including by a rail bridge, Morisset street, the main road of Monaro Street (which becomes Bungendore Road or Kings Highway), and by a pedestrian footbridge near Isabella Street. The main bridge is called Queens Bridge, which as a plaque on the bridge states, was opened by Wal Fife, MLA, Minister for transport and highways on the 21 July 1975. The only major crossings of the river above Googong Dam are the Boolboolma causeway on the Captain's Flat-Michelago Road and a road bridge on the Captain's Flat-Jerangle Road.


The Queanbeyan Weir was constructed originally in 1901-2 which provided a pool in the Queanbeyan River near the centre of the town for the town's water supply. It is now a place for town beautification with several parks located along the river, such as Blundell Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, and Ray Morton Park. The weir also provides for minor irrigation requirements. A buttressed concrete gravity wall which was 58 metres long, raised an extra one metre to the height of 4 metres in 1951-1952. The weir has had serious impacts on native fish migration in the Queanbeyan river.The Googong Dam, located on the river, was completed in 1979 to supply water for Queanbeyan and Canberra. The dam is located five kilometres upstream of the city of Queanbeyan and holds 121.1GL of water when full. The Commonwealth Government owns the dam which is operated and managed by ACTEWAGL, the ACT's electricity, water and gas utility supplier. The ACT Government manages the dam foreshores. Lower flows in the river downstream of the dam since its construction, together with below average rainfall for the past decade, have modified the river channel and led to an increase in colonisation by willows and river plants which enjoy low flows. Management of the river includes dealing with these weed probblems.

Fish population

The Queanbeyan River was renowned as a beautiful river abounding in native Murray Cod, which once extended to the vicinity of Googong Dam, and native Macquarie perch, which extended to at least the headwaters of Googong Dam. Due to this abundance of native fish, the Queanbeyan River, along with the Molonglo River, was often known as the "Fish River" in the early days of settlement. Sometimes the Queanbeyan was further distinguished by being called the "South Fish River". , overfishing, willow encroachment, siltation, and weirs blocking migration saw native fish populations in the Queanbeyan River close to extinction by the time Googong Dam was built.

The river below Googong Dam has been seen as unhealthy in recent years by the council, with the river being over-run with carp and reeds. The council has put in place a resource development scheme to clean out the river, including a 'catch a carp' competition where the winners won $500 or fishing gear.

European carp have not penetrated the river above Googong Dam, providing an excellent trout and native fish catchery in both the dam and the river upstream. Koi carp are present the entire length of the river, but in small quantities. Since construction of Googong Dam in 1979, the endangered two-spined blackfish and Macquarie perch have been very occasionally reported in the river, and rarely beyond the first waterfall upstream of Googong Dam, despite the introduction of 57 Macquarie perch in the 1980s.

Other Wildlife

The Queanbeyan River has a range of native wildlife ranging from wombats and kangaroos which are often found grazing on the banks to the not commonly seen platypus. The area surrounding the Queanbeyan River supports a large population of Eastern grey Kangaroos. Platypus can be found during the evenings under the swing bridge.

Selected References

Lintermans, M. (2000) "The Status of Fish in the Australian Capital Territory : A Review of Current Knowledge and Management Requirements. Technical Report No. 15." Environment ACT, Canberra.

External references

* [http://www.environment.act.gov.au/Files/queanbeyanriver.doc Environment ACT paper on Queanbeyan River, including impact of Googong Dam]
* [http://www.qcc.nsw.gov.au/page.aspx?page=3085 Queanbeyan City Council page on the river's management]
* [http://www.actewagl.com.au/water/catchment/googong.aspx ACTEWAGL page on Googong dam.]
* [http://www.murrumbidgee.cma.nsw.gov.au/uploads/media/Fish_003.pdf Fish in the Murrumbidgee catchment (PDF)]

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