Bremer River (Queensland)

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Bremer River
Bremer R.JPG
Railway bridge across the Bremer River, Ipswich, Queensland
Origin Main Range
Mouth confluence with Brisbane River at Barellan Point
Basin countries Australia
Length 100 km
Basin area 2032 km²
River system Brisbane River
Left tributaries Western Creek, Franklin Vale Creek
Right tributaries Warrill Creek, Reynold Creek, Purga Creek, Deebing Creek, Bundamba Creek

The Bremer River is a sub-catchment of the Brisbane River. The Bremer river drains several Scenic Rim valleys in south-east Queensland, including the Fassifern Valley. The river was discovered in 1824 by John Oxley and Allan Cunningham.

This river and its tributaries cover an area of approximately 2032 km².[1] Most valleys within the catchment have extensive river terraces. The Bremer River system is extremely degraded.

It was first named by John Oxley as Bremer's Creek presumably after Captain James Gordon Bremer who was in charge of HMS Tamar, at that time performing duties in the waters of the colony of New South Wales.[2]


Bremer River at Ipswich in 1872

The first sighting of the Bremer River by Europeans was made by John Oxley and Allan Cunningham on 19 September 1824 as they explored the Brisbane River.[3] On their return journey six days later the exploration party camped on the opposite side of the river where the tributary entered the main stream. Shortly after Oxley began to refer to the tributary as the Bremer River but didn't specify from who the name was derived from.[4] It has been assumed to be named in honour of James Gordon Bremer, a naval officer on the HMS Tamar. No attempt to explore the Bremer was made at this time. Edmund Lockyer passed through the area in 1825, noting the junction of the Bremer, referring to it as Bremer's Creek but he did not explore it. The first European to travel along the river was Captain Patrick Logan who in either late 1826 or early 1827 investigated the Bremer. He discovered deposits of limestone at the site of what was to become Ipswich.[4] Upstream from there the river became shallow and rocky, so Logan did not explore further.

The upper reaches of the river were explored by Alan Cunningham in 1828 while he was searching for a route to the Darling Downs. Cunningham made measurements and produced a map which he sent to Governor Darling.[5]

The first steam vessel on the river was the Experiment on 18 June 1846 after spending the night stranded on a mud band at Goodna.[6]

In 1863, an immigration depot was built on the north bank of the Bremer, after residents of Ipswich petitioned for a depot to alleviate a shortage of labour.[7] Immigrants were brought to Ipswich by paddle steamer. The depot was sometimes overcrowded and continued to operate until 1900.

Before the railway line from Ipswich to Brisbane was completed in 1875, the river served as an important navigation route between the two towns.

The Bremer Catchment Association was established in 1995.[8] The group engages small community groups in projects such as weed control and tree planting.


Upper river at Rosevale, 2011
Churchbank Weir on Warrill Creek, 2015

The Bremer rises in the hills of the Scenic Rim, passes close to the town of Rosewood and winds through the city of Ipswich. The catchment area is bordered by the Little Liverpool Range to the west, with the Main Range lying to the south and south-west. Towards the east is Flinders Peak and the Teviot Range.[9] The river has a number of tributaries including Deebing Creek, Bundamba Creek, Purga Creek, Reynolds Creek, Warrill Creek, Western Creek and Franklin Vale Creek. The town of Grandchester is situated on Western Creek and Rosevale was settled on the upper reaches. Its length is about 100 km (62 mi).[10]


Industrial waste has flowed into the river soon after the catchment was settled. Photos from 1870 show the riverbanks cleared of vegetation. This may have been from the cutting of timber or because an engineer had encouraged the clearing of trees close to the river because when they fell into the river they dragged earth with them, creating an obstacle for steamers in an already narrow channel.[11]

The slow-flowing river system is known to flood and is considered to be heavily polluted, suffering from poor water quality.[citation needed] The Bremer does not receive enough water in its catchment to meet both human requirements and the need to flush out impurities.[citation needed] This results in poor water quality with high levels of turbidity, high nutrient levels and high levels of bacteria, especially where sewerage and drain runoff from the city of Ipswich is discharged into the river.[citation needed]

Coordinated attempts to improve water quality began after the establishment of the Water Quality Council in 1973. Testing revealed the worst pollution came from woolen mills and meatworks at Dinmore, where organic waste entered the river untreated.[8]

Land degradation was identified as a serious problem in the catchment after a Department of Primary Industries survey was conducted in 1979.[12] Riparian vegetation has been nearly completely removed and the banks are now weed-infested.[13] Downstream the river suffers from not only sewerage and farming runoff but also abattoir effluent.[13]

In 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 the Healthy Waterways annual assessment of water quality rated the Bremer River an F, the lowest grading possible.[14][15][16][17] The Ipswich City Council has responded by increasing fines for allowing pollutants to contaminate the river.[18]

Heavy metals including mercury, chromium, nickel and cadmium were found in Warrill Creek, a tributary of the Bremer, in 2009.[19] The source of the contamination was discharge from the RAAF Base Amberley. The contaminates did not reach the Bremer River itself.[20] In 2010, the Ipswich City Council and the International Riverfoundation launched a fund to help clean up the river.[21]

The worst pest species was the introduced water hyacinth, which sometimes was so dense it blocked boats. Severe outbreaks occurred in 1917, 1935—36, 1941 and 1965.[22]

Water supply[edit]

Moogerah Dam was built in the upper reaches of Reynolds Creek.[23] The dam is currently providing drinking water for towns such as Boonah and is an irrigation source for crop farmers and those grazing cattle.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ South East Queensland Regional Strategic Group, Strategic Guide to Natural Resource Management in South East Queensland, November 2000, p. 105. ISBN 0-7345-1740-8
  2. ^ "Ipswich - Culture and History". Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 8 December 2009. 
  3. ^ Buchanan 2009, p. 9.
  4. ^ a b Buchanan 2009, p. 10.
  5. ^ Buchanan 2009, p. 11.
  6. ^ Buchanan 2009, p. 101.
  7. ^ Buchanan 2009, p. 25.
  8. ^ a b Buchanan 2009, p. 99.
  9. ^ "Rivers - Assessment of River Condition - Queensland - Brisbane River". Australian Natural Resources Atlas. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  10. ^ "Recreation". Ipswich City Council. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  11. ^ Buchanan 2009, p. 95.
  12. ^ "Bremer Catchment". Ipswich City Council. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Dennison, William C.; Eva G. Abal (1999). Moreton Bay Study: A Scientific Basis for the Healthy Waterways Campaign. Brisbane: South East Queensland Regional Water Quality Management Strategy Team. p. 190. ISBN 0-9586368-1-8. 
  14. ^ Elissa Lawrence (30 December 2006). "Our worst waterways". The Sunday Mail (News Queensland). Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  15. ^ Tony Moore (22 October 2008). "Brisbane's rivers, creeks in ailing health: report". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  16. ^ Zane Jackson (18 February 2011). "Stay away from the river". The Queensland Times. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Healthy Waterways (24 October 2012). "Healthy Waterways - Bremer River". Retrieved 2014-03-04. 
  18. ^ Tony Moore (22 October 2008). "Water polluters to face tougher fines". Brisbane Times (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  19. ^ Nikole Jacobi and Francis Tapim (8 September 2009). "'Exhaustive investigation' into Amberley creek contamination". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  20. ^ Emma Pollard (17 December 2009). "Defence Dept to fix Amberley base creek pollution". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  21. ^ Zane Jackson (16 March 2010). "Campaign to clean up Bremer River". The Queensland Times. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  22. ^ Buchanan 2009, p. 97.
  23. ^ "Latest River Heights for Reynolds Ck at Moogerah Dam". Australian Government - Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 24 September 2009. 


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°35′51.32″S 152°47′07.84″E / 27.5975889°S 152.7855111°E / -27.5975889; 152.7855111