Murrumbidgee River (//), a major tributary of the Murray River within the Murray–Darling basin, flows through the Australian state of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. It descends 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) as it flows 900 kilometres (559 mi) in a west-northwesterly direction from the foot of Peppercorn Hill in the Fiery Range of the Snowy Mountains towards its confluence with the Murray River near Boundary Bend.
The reaches of the Murrumbidgee in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are now affected by the complete elimination of large spring snow melt flows and a reduction of average annual flows of almost 50%, due to Tantangara Dam. Tantangara Dam was completed in 1960 on the headwaters of Murrumbidgee River and diverts approximately 99% of the river's flow at that point into Lake Eucumbene. This had extremely serious effects on native fish populations and other native aquatic life and has led to serious habitat loss. It is said that the Murrumbidgee River through the ACT is only half the river it used to be.[weasel words]
The mainstream of the river system flows for 900 km (559 mi). The river's headwaters arise from the wet heath and bog at the foot of Peppercorn Hill situated along Long Plain which is within the Fiery Range of the Snowy Mountains; and about 50 kilometres north of Kiandra. From its headwaters it flows to its confluence with the Murray River. The river flows for 66 km (41 mi) through the Australian Capital Territory near Canberra, picking up the important tributaries of the Gudgenby, Molonglo and Cotter Rivers. The Murrumbidgee drains much of southern New South Wales and all of the Australian Capital Territory, and is an important source of irrigation water for the Riverina farming area.
The river system's current channels are relatively new with the Upper Murrumbidgee being an anabranch of the Tumut River (that once continued north along Mutta Mutta Creek) when geological uplift near Adaminaby diverted its flow. The contemporary Murrumbidgee starts at Gundagai but generally the stream that now includes the Upper Murrumbidgee is described as being part of the full river.
In June 2008 the Murray-Darling Basin Commission released a report on the condition of the Murray-Darling basin, with the Goulburn and Murrumbidgee Rivers rated in a very poor condition in the Murray-Darling basin with fish stocks in both rivers were also rated as extremely poor, with 13 of the 22 native fish species found in the Murrumbidgee River.
The Murrumbidgee River was known to Europeans before it was actually discovered by them. In 1820 the explorer Charles Throsby informed the Governor of New South Wales that he anticipated finding "a considerable river of salt water (except at very wet seasons), called by the natives Mur-rum-big-gee". In the expedition journal, Throsby wrote as a marginal note: "This river or stream is called by the natives Yeal-am-bid-gie ...". The river he had stumbled upon was in fact the Molonglo River, Throsby reached the actual river in April 1821.
In 1823, Brigade-Major John Ovens and Captain Mark Currie reached the upper Murrumbidgee when exploring south of Lake George.[dead link] In 1829, Charles Sturt and his party rowed and sailed down the length of the river from Narrandera to the Murray, and then down the Murray to the sea. They also rowed, sailing when possible, back up against the current. The Murrumbidgee basin was opened to settlement in the 1830s and soon became an important farming area.
Here we may remark on the tenacity with which the Murrumbidgee River long eluded the eye of the white man. It is scarcely probable that Meehan and Hume, who on this occasion were within comparatively easy reach of the head waters, could have seen a new inland river at that time without mentioning the fact, but there is no record traceable anywhere as to the date of its discovery, or the name of its finder. When in 1823 Captain Currie and Major Ovens were led along its bank on to the beautiful Maneroo country by Joseph Wild, the stream was then familiar to the early settlers and called the Morumbidgee. Even in 1821, when Hume found the Yass Plains, almost on its bank, he makes no special mention of the river. From all this we may deduce the extremely probable fact that the position of the river was shown to some stockrider by a native, who also confided the aboriginal name, and so it gradually worked the knowledge of its identity into general belief. This theory is the more feasible as the river has retained its native name. If a white man of any known position had made the discovery, it would at once have received the name of some person holding official sway.
The river has risen above 7 metres (23 ft) at Gundagai nine times between 1852 and 2010, an average of just under once every eleven years. Since 1925, flooding has been minor with the exception of floods in 1974 and in December 2010, when the river rose to 10.2 metres (33 ft) at Gundagai. In the 1852 disaster, the river rose to just over 12.2 m (40 ft). The following year the river again rose to just over 12.5 m (41 ft). The construction of Burrinjuck Dam from 1907 has significantly reduced flooding but, despite the dam, there were major floods in 1925, 1950, 1974 and 2012.
The reduction in floods has consequences for wildlife, birds and trees. There has been a decline in bird populations and black box flood plain eucalypt forest trees are starting to lose their crowns.
Major flooding occurred during March 2012 along the Murrumbidgee River including Wagga Wagga, where the river peaked at 10.56 metres (34.6 ft) on 6 March 2012. This peak was 0.18 metres (0.59 ft) below the 1974 flood level of 10.74 metres (35.2 ft).
- Lowbidgee Floodplain, 2,000 square kilometres (772 sq mi) between Maude and Balranald
- Mid-Murrumbidgee Wetlands along the river from Narrandera to Carathool
- Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps
- Tomneys Plain
- Micalong Swamp
- Lake George
- Yaouk Swamp
- Black Swamp & Coopers Swamp
- Big Badja Swamp
The following rivers are tributaries of the Murrumbidgee River, from source to mouth:
- Numeralla River
- Bredbo River
- Gudgenby River
- Cotter River
- Molonglo River
- Crookwell River
- Goodradigbee River
- Yass River
- Tumut River
- Lachlan River
- Canberra particularly Tuggeranong
- Wagga Wagga
- Darlington Point
The list below notes past and present bridges that cross over the Murrumbidgee River. There were numerous other crossings before the bridges were constructed and many of these still exist today.
Downstream from Wagga Wagga
|Balranald Bridge||1973||Balranald||Sturt Highway|
|Hay Bridge||1973||Hay||Cobb Highway|
|Darlington Point Bridge||Darlington Point||Kidman Way|
|Narrandera Rail Bridge||Narrandera||Tocumwal railway line|
|Narrandera Bridge||Newell Highway|
Wagga Wagga to Burrinjuck
|Gobbagombalin Bridge||1997||Wagga Wagga||Olympic Highway|
|Wirajuri Bridge||1995||Hampden Avenue, replaced the Hampden Bridge|
|2006||Main Southern railway line. Replaced the previous bridge built in 1881|
|Eunony Bridge||Eunony Bridge Road|
|Sheahan Bridge||1977||Gundagai||Hume Freeway; looking south from Gundagai, bridge in midground|
|Gundagai Rail Bridge||1902||Tumut railway line, now disused|
|Prince Alfred Bridge||1867||Prince Alfred Road, former Hume Highway.|
Upstream from Burrinjuck
|Taemas Bridge||Wee Jasper||1930|
|Cotter Road bridge||Australian Capital Territory||Cotter Road, near the confluence with the Cotter River|
|Point Hut crossing||Gordon|
|Angle Crossing||Williamsdale||Angle Crossing Road, a ford|
|Tantangara Bridge||Tantangara||Tantangara Road, immediately downstream from the Tantangara Reservoir wall|
|Tantangara Dam||Tantangara||Tantangara Reservoir was constructed between 1958 and 1960. No public access to the dam to cross the river.|
|Long Plain Bridge||Long Plain|
Tharwa Bridge looking south; Tharwa is to the right
The Murrumbidgee at Gundagai
Eunony Bridge viewed from Eunanoreenya looking towards Gumly Gumly
Distances along the river
- Gundagai to Wagga Wagga - 138 km (86 mi)
- Wagga Wagga to Yarragundy - 37 km (23 mi)
- Yarragundy to Yiorkibitto - 77 km (48 mi)
- Yiorkibitto to Grong Grong - 58 km (36 mi)
- Grong Grong to Narrandera - 21 km (13 mi)
- Narrandera to Yanco or Bedithera - 18 km (11 mi)
- Yanco to Yanco Station - 29 km (18 mi)
- Yanco to Gogeldrie - 21 km (13 mi)
- Gogeldrie to Tubbo - 24 km (15 mi)
- Tubbo to Cararburry - 55 km (34 mi)
- Cararbury to Carrathool - 66 km (41 mi)
- Carrathool to Burrabogie - 56 km (35 mi)
- Burrabogie to Illilliwa - 42 km (26 mi)
- Illilliwa to Hay - 22 km (14 mi)
- Hay to Toogambie - 63 km (39 mi)
- Toogambie to Maude - 40 km (25 mi)
- Maude to Lachlan Junction - 71 km (44 mi)
- Lachlan Junction to Balranald - 137 km (85 mi)
- Balranald to Canally - 42 km (26 mi)
- Canally to Weimby, Murray Junction - 61 km (38 mi)
- "Murrumbidgee River". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
- "Our Catchment". Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority. Government of New South Wales. 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- "Map of Murrumbidgee River". Bonzle.com. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- Macquarie ABC Dictionary. The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. 2003. pp. 647, 853. ISBN 1-876429-37-2.
- Room, Adrian (2003). Placenames of the World. McFarland. p. 246. ISBN 0-7864-1814-1.
- Lintermans, Mark. "The re-establishment of endangered Macquarie perch Macquaria australasica in the Queanbeyan River, New South Wales, with an examination of dietary overlap with alien trout" (PDF). Environment ACT and Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
- Lintermans, Mark (2000). The Status of Fish in the Australian Capital Territory: A Review of Current Knowledge and Management Requirements. Technical Report No. 15.. Canberra: Environment ACT.
- "Murrumbidgee River Catchment". Catchment Case Studies. NSW Department of Environment and Conservation. 1995. Archived from the original on 19 April 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2006.
- "Interim recreation study for the natural areas of the ACT" (PDF). ACT Government. April 2004. p. 23. Archived from the original on 26 July 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
- Sharp, K. R (2004). "Cenzoic volcanism, tectonism, and stream derangement in the Snowy Mountains and northern Monaro of New South Wales". Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 51: 67–83.
- "Sustainable Rivers Audit" (PDF). Murray-Darling Basin Commission. June 2008. pp. 14, 50. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
- Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1931 (ABS cat. no. 1301.0)
- Reed, A. W., Place-names of New South Wales: Their Origins and Meanings, (Reed: 1969).
- Discovery of the Monaro[dead link]
- Sturt, Charles (2004) . Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia (txt). Project Gutenberg EBook. Retrieved 2006-08-26.
- Favenc, Ernest (2004) . "Chapter 4" (txt). The Explorers of Australia and their Life-work. Project Gutenberg EBook. Retrieved 2006-08-26.
- "Evacuation begins". The Daily Advertiser. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
- Butcher, Cliff (2002). "Chapter 9 Floods". Gundagai: A track winding back. Gundagai, NSW, Australia: A. C. Butcher. pp. 84–98. ISBN 0-9586200-0-8.
- "Murrumbidgee River & Floods". Wagga Wagga City Council. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "1852, June, Gundagai flood". News. Ministry of Police and Emergency Services. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- Australian Government Emergency Management database[dead link]
- Troy, Michael (23 October 2001). "Report warns of damage to Murrumbidgee River" (transcript). 7.30 Report (Australia: ABC1). Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- Kwek, Glenda (7 March 2012). "Wagga 'dodges a bullet' as severe weather warning issued for Sydney". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- NSW Department of Natural Resources Murrumbidgee Region[dead link]
- Heaton, J.H.,1984, The Bedside Book of Colonial Doings, Published in 1879 as 'Australian Dictionary of Dates' containing the History of Australasia from 1542 to May, 1879, Angus & Robertson Publishers Sydney, pp.215-216
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Murrumbidgee River.|
- Nomination of Lower Murrumbidgee Catchment for UNESCO's HELP Pilot Demonstration Status by CSIRO
- Murrumbidgee River Flows recorded by NSW Water
- River pilot maps 1880-1918 / Echuca Historical Society
- Snowy Flow Response Monitoring and Modelling
- Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority website
- Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach PDF 1.22MB
- "Murrumbidgee and Lake George catchments" (map). Office of Environment and Heritage. Government of New South Wales.
- "Murray River catchment (NSW)" (map). Office of Environment and Heritage. Government of New South Wales.