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The Murrumbidgee River () is a major
tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream A stream is a body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") ...
of the
Murray River The Murray River (in South Australia: River Murray) (Ngarrindjeri language, Ngarrindjeri: ''Millewa'', Yorta Yorta language, Yorta Yorta: ''Tongala'') is a river in south-eastern Australia. It is list of rivers of Australia#Longest river ...

Murray River
within the
Murray–Darling basin The Murray–Darling basin is a large geographical area in the interior of southeastern Australia, encompassing the drainage basin of the tributaries of the Murray River, list of rivers of Australia#Longest rivers nationally, Australia's longes ...
and the second longest river in
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
. It flows through the Australian state of
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
and the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a federal territory A federal territory is an area under the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of a federation's central or national ...
, descending over , generally in a west-northwesterly direction from the foot of Peppercorn Hill in the Fiery Range of the
Snowy Mountains The Snowy Mountains, known informally as "The Snowies", is an IBRA The Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) is a biogeography, biogeographic regionalisation of Australia developed by the Australian government's Departmen ...

Snowy Mountains
towards its
confluence In geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...

confluence
with the Murray River near Boundary Bend. The word ''Murrumbidgee'' or ''Marrmabidya'' means "big water" in the
Wiradjuri language Wiradjuri (; many other spellings, see Wiradjuri#Name, Wiradjuri) is a Pama–Nyungan languages, Pama–Nyungan language of the Wiradhuric languages, Wiradhuric subgroup. It is the traditional language of the Wiradjuri people of Australia. A pr ...
, one of the local
Australian Aboriginal languages The Australian Aboriginal languages consist of around 290–363 languages belonging to an estimated 28 language families A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Si ...
. The river itself flows through several traditional
Aboriginal Australian Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific ...
lands, home to various
Aboriginal peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific countries), or autochthonous peoples, are culturally distinct e ...
. In the Australian Capital Territory, the river is bordered by a narrow strip of land on each side; these are managed as the Murrumbidgee River Corridor (MRC). This land includes many
nature reserve A nature reserve (also known as a natural reserve, wildlife refuge, wildlife sanctuary, biosphere reserve or bioreserve, natural or nature preserve, or nature conservation area) is a protected area Protected areas or conservation areas a ...
s, eight recreation reserves, a European heritage conservation zone and rural leases.


Flow

The mainstream of the river system flows for . 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 The Snowy Mountains, known informally as "The Snowies", is an IBRA The Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) is a biogeography, biogeographic regionalisation of Australia developed by the Australian government's Departmen ...

Snowy Mountains
; and about north of
Kiandra Kiandra is an abandoned gold mining Gold mining is the extraction of gold Gold is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemist ...
. From its headwaters it flows to its confluence with the
Murray River The Murray River (in South Australia: River Murray) (Ngarrindjeri language, Ngarrindjeri: ''Millewa'', Yorta Yorta language, Yorta Yorta: ''Tongala'') is a river in south-eastern Australia. It is list of rivers of Australia#Longest river ...

Murray River
. The river flows for through the Australian Capital Territory near
Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the holding primary status in a , , , , or other , usually as its seat of the government. A capital is typically a that physically encompasses the government's offices an ...

Canberra
, picking up the important tributaries of the Gudgenby,
Queanbeyan Queanbeyan is a city in the south-eastern region of New South Wales, Australia, located adjacent to the Australian Capital Territory in the Southern Tablelands region. Located on the Queanbeyan River, the city is the council seat of the Queanb ...
, Molonglo and
Cotter River The Cotter River, a perennial river The Gangi River of Arrah, India">Arrah.html" ;"title="Gangi River of Arrah">Gangi River of Arrah, India A perennial stream or perennial river is a stream or river (channel) which has constant stream throu ...

Cotter River
s. 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 The Riverina is an agricultural region In geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenome ...
farming area. The reaches of the Murrumbidgee in the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a federal territory A federal territory is an area under the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of a federation's central or national ...
(ACT) are 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 is a major ungated Gravity dam, concrete gravity dam with Spillway#chute, concrete chute spillway across the Murrumbidgee River in Tantangara, New South Wales, Tantangara, upstream of Adaminaby, New South Wales, Adaminaby in the Sn ...
. 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 Eucumbene Dam is a major gated embankment dam, earthfill embankment dam with an Spillway#Types, overflow ski-jump and bucket spillway with two vertical lift gates across the Eucumbene River in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. The ...

Lake Eucumbene
."eflow panel 1997" This has extremely serious effects on native fish populations and other native aquatic life and has led to serious siltation, stream contraction, fish habitat loss and other problems. The Murrumbidgee where it enters the ACT is effectively half the river it used to be. A study suggests a section of the upper river's channels are relatively new in geological terms, dating from the early
Miocene The Miocene ( ) is the first geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene Epoch of ...
(the Miocene era being from 23 to 5 million years ago). It is suggested that the Upper Murrumbidgee is an
anabranch An anabranch is a section of a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its cour ...
of the
Tumut River The Tumut River (), a perennial stream A perennial stream or perennial river is a stream or river (channel) which has a flow of water throughout the year through at least parts of its stream bed during years of normal rainfall. Water Supply ...
(that once continued north along Mutta Mutta Creek) when geological uplift near
Adaminaby Adaminaby is a small town near the Snowy Mountains north-west of Cooma, New South Wales, Cooma, New South Wales, Australia, in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council. The historic town, of 301 people at the , is a trout fishing centre and winter spo ...
diverted its flow. From
Gundagai Gundagai is a town in New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The ...
onwards the rivers flow within its ancestral channel. In June 2008 the Murray-Darling Basin Commission released a report on the condition of the Murray-Darling basin, with the
Goulburn Goulburn is a regional city in the Southern Tablelands of the Australian States and territories of Australia, state of New South Wales, approximately south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Canberra. It was proclaimed as Australia's first inl ...
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 only 13 of the original 22 native fish species still found in the Murrumbidgee River.


History

The Murrumbidgee River runs through the traditional lands of the Ngarigo, Ngunnawal,
Wiradjuri The Wiradjuri people (; ) are a group of Aboriginal Australian Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (wit ...
, Nari Nari and
Muthi Muthi The Muthi Muthi people are an indigenous Australian people whose traditional lands are located in the Riverina, Northern Riverina and Far West (New South Wales), Far West regions of New South Wales. The Muthi Muthi are the traditional owners of ...
Aboriginal peoples.


Exploration

The Murrumbidgee River was known to Europeans before it was first recorded by them.  In 1820 the explorer
Charles Throsby Charles Throsby (1777 – 2 April 1828) was an English surgeon who, after he migrated to New South Wales in 1802, became an explorer, pioneer and parliamentarian. He opened up much new land beyond the Blue Mountains (Australia), Blue Mounta ...
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 The Molonglo River, a perennial river The Gangi River of Arrah, India">Arrah.html" ;"title="Gangi River of Arrah">Gangi River of Arrah, India A perennial stream or perennial river is a stream or river (channel) which has constant stream thro ...
, Throsby reached the actual river in April 1821. In 1823, Brigade-Major John Ovens and Captain reached the upper Murrumbidgee when exploring south of Lake George. In 1829,
Charles Sturt Charles Napier Sturt (28 April 1795 – 16 June 1869) was a British officer and explorer of Australia, and part of the European exploration of Australia. He led several expeditions into the interior of the continent, starting from Sydney ...
and his party rowed down the lower half of the Murrumbidgee River in a stoutly built, large row-boat, from Narrandera to the Murray River, and then down the Murray River to the sea. They then rowed back upstream, against the current, to their starting point. Sturt's description of their passage through the junction of the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers is dramatic. His description of wild strong currents in the Murrumbidgee—''in the middle of summer'' (14 January 1830), when flows are declining and close to the seasonal summer/autumn minimum, are in contrast to the sluggish, chronically irrigation-reduced flow seen at the junction today in mid-summer:
The men looked anxiously out ahead; for the singular change in the river had impressed on them an idea, that we were approaching its termination ... We were carried at a fearful rate down its gloomy and contracted banks ... At 3 p.m., Hopkinson called out that we were approaching a junction, and in less than a minute afterwards, we were hurried into a broad and noble river ... such was the force with which we had been shot out of the Morumbidgee, that we were carried nearly to the bank opposite its embouchure, whilst we continued to gaze in silent astonishment on the capacious channel f the Murray Riverwe had entered ...
The Murrumbidgee basin was opened to settlement in the 1830s and soon became an important farming area.
Ernest Favenc Ernest Favenc (21 October 1845 – 14 November 1908) was an explorer of Australia, a journalist, author of verse, novels and short stories, and an historian. Personal life Favenc was born in Walworth, Surrey, England. Of Huguenot descent, he ...

Ernest Favenc
, when writing on Australian exploration, commented on the relatively tardy European discovery of the river and that the river retained a name used by
Indigenous Australians Indigenous Australians are people with familial heritage to groups that lived in Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continen ...
:
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.


Navigation

The river was once used as a transport route, with paddle steamers navigating the river as far as
Gundagai Gundagai is a town in New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The ...
. The river trade declined with the coming of the railways. Paddle steamers last used the Murrumbidgee in the 1930s. To allow the steamers and towed barges to pass, there were opening bridges at
Hay Hay is grass Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of fam ...
,
Balranald Balranald is a town within the Local government in Australia, local government area of Balranald Shire, in the Riverina district of New South Wales, Australia. The town of Balranald is located where the Sturt Highway crosses the Murrumbidgee ...
, and Murrumbidgee River bridge, Carrathool, Carathool


Floods

The river has risen above 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 at Gundagai. In the 1852 disaster, the river rose to just over . The following year the river again rose to just over . 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 most notable flood was in 1852 when the town of
Gundagai Gundagai is a town in New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The ...
was swept away and 89 people, a third of the town's population, were killed. The town was rebuilt on higher ground. In 1925, four people died and the flooding lasted for eight days. The reduction in floods has consequences for wildlife, particularly birds and trees. There has been a decline in bird populations and Eucalyptus largiflorens, 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 on 6 March 2012. This peak was below the 1974 flood level of .


Wetlands

Major wetlands along the Murrumbidgee or associated with the Murrumbidgee catchment include: * Lowbidgee Floodplain, 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


Tributaries

The Murrumbidgee River has about 90 named tributary, tributaries in total; 24 rivers, and numerous creeks and gullies. The ordering of the basin, from source to mouth, of the major tributaries is:


Population centres

* Tharwa, Australian Capital Territory, Tharwa *
Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the holding primary status in a , , , , or other , usually as its seat of the government. A capital is typically a that physically encompasses the government's offices an ...

Canberra
particularly Tuggeranong * Jugiong, New South Wales, Jugiong *
Gundagai Gundagai is a town in New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The ...
* Wantabadgery, New South Wales, Wantabadgery * Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Wagga Wagga * Narrandera, New South Wales, Narrandera * Yanco, New South Wales, Yanco * Leeton, New South Wales, Leeton * Darlington Point, New South Wales, Darlington Point * Hay, New South Wales, Hay * Balranald, New South Wales, Balranald


River crossings

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


Wagga Wagga to Burrinjuck


Upstream from Burrinjuck


Images

File:Murrumbidgee Headwater Peppercorn Hill (2).JPG, Second photo of source and area of Murrumbidgee File:Murrumbidgee Headwater Peppercorn Hill (3).JPG, Water oozing from heath at source area of Murrumbidgee File:Murrumbidgee River below the Tantangara Dam, NSW, Australia.jpg, Tantangara Dam File:Murrumbidgee River at Yaouk, NSW, Australia.JPG, Yaouk Bridge File:Murrumbidgee River at Bolarao, NSW, Australia.jpg, Murrumbidgee at Bolaro File:Murrumbidgee river tharwa bridge.jpg, Tharwa Bridge looking south; Tharwa is to the right File:Point Hut Crossing, ACT.JPG, Point Hut Crossing, ACT, looking south File:MurrumbidgeeCotter junction.jpg, Junction with Cotter, in moderate flood File:Uriarra Crossing, ACT.JPG, Uriarra Crossing, ACT, in moderate flood File:Taemas Bridge, NSW, approach from the south.jpg, Approach to Taemas Bridge File:Taemas Bridge, NSW, from north.jpg, Taemas Bridge, from north File:Murrumbidgee River at Jugiong, NSW, Australia (Bundarbo Road Bridge).JPG, Jugiong Bridge File:Gundagai bridge 1885.jpg, The Prince Alfred bridge crosses the Murrumbidgee River at Gundagai, photographed c. 1885 File:MurrumbidgeeAtGundagai.jpg, The Murrumbidgee at
Gundagai Gundagai is a town in New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The ...
File:Mundarlo - Murrumbidgee River Crossing.jpg, Murrumbidgee River Crossing at Mundarlo File:Eunony Bridge viewed from Eunanoreenya.jpg, Eunony Bridge viewed from Eunanoreenya looking towards Gumly Gumly, New South Wales, Gumly Gumly File:Wagga-railway-bridge.jpg, Former Murrumbidgee River Railway Bridge, Wagga Wagga railway bridge File:Murrumbidgee Railway Bridge.jpg, New concrete railway bridge at Wagga Wagga File:WaggaWaggaBridgeOverMurrumbidgee.jpg, Hampden Bridge at Wagga Wagga File:Wiradjuri Bridge.jpg, Wiradjuri Bridge File:WaggaGobbaBridgeOverMurrumbidgeeRiver.jpg, Gobbagombalin (Gobba) Bridge


Distances along the river

*
Gundagai Gundagai is a town in New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The ...
to Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Wagga Wagga – * Wagga Wagga to Yarragundy, New South Wales, Yarragundy – * Yarragundy to Yiorkibitto, New South Wales, Yiorkibitto – * Yiorkibitto to Grong Grong, New South Wales, Grong Grong – * Grong Grong to Narrandera, New South Wales, Narrandera – * Narrandera to Yanco, New South Wales, Yanco or Bedithera, New South Wales, Bedithera – * Yanco to Yanco Station, New South Wales, Yanco Station – * Yanco to Gogeldrie, New South Wales, Gogeldrie – * Gogeldrie to Tubbo, New South Wales, Tubbo – * Tubbo to Cararburry, New South Wales, Cararburry – * Cararbury to Carrathool – * Carrathool to Burrabogie, New South Wales, Burrabogie – * Burrabogie to Illilliwa, New South Wales, Illilliwa – * Illilliwa to Hay, New South Wales, Hay – * Hay to Toogambie, New South Wales, Toogambie – * Toogambie to Maude, New South Wales, Maude – * Maude to Lachlan Junction, New South Wales, Lachlan Junction – * Lachlan Junction to Balranald, New South Wales, Balranald – * Balranald to Canally, New South Wales, Canally – * Canally to Weimby,New South Wales, Weimby, Murray Junction, New South Wales, Murray Junction – * Total distance from Gundagai to Murrumbidgee Junction, New South Wales, Murrumbidgee Junction – 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


See also

* List of rivers of Australia#New South Wales, List of rivers of New South Wales * List of rivers of Australia#Australian Capital Territory, List of rivers of the Australian Capital Territory * List of Murrumbidgee River distances * List of Darling River distances * List of Murray River crossings * List of Murray River distances *
Murray–Darling basin The Murray–Darling basin is a large geographical area in the interior of southeastern Australia, encompassing the drainage basin of the tributaries of the Murray River, list of rivers of Australia#Longest rivers nationally, Australia's longes ...
includes useful chart of tributaries


References


External links


Nomination of Lower Murrumbidgee Catchment for UNESCO's HELP Pilot Demonstration Status by CSIROMurrumbidgee River Flows recorded by NSW WaterRiver pilot maps 1880-1918
/ Echuca Historical Society
Snowy Flow Response Monitoring and ModellingMurrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority
website
Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach
 1.22MB * * {{Authority control Murrumbidgee River, Rivers of New South Wales Rivers of the Australian Capital Territory Tributaries of the Murray River Newell Highway Rivers in the Riverina Snowy Mountains Scheme