The village of Araluen lies in the valley of Araluen Creek, that joins the Deua River at roughly the midpoint in its course. The name 'Araluen' means 'water lily' or 'place of the water lilies' in the local Aboriginal dialect. At the time of European settlement Araluen was described as a broad alluvial valley with many natural billabongs covered with water lilies. Unfortunately, no such billabongs exist in the Araluen valley today. As with most river and creek valleys in south-eastern Australia, the natural landscape of Araluen Creek and its valley were completely destroyed by rampant and extremely destructive gold mining in the latter half of the 19th century. This has mobilised thousands of tons of coarse granitic sands and lead to serious sand-slugging or sand siltation of the lower half of the Deua River below the Araluen Creek confluence. Nevertheless the Deua River supports valuable populations of the threatened Australian grayling and several other native freshwater fish species.