A NSW Government website

Northern Basin Toolkit

Fish passage: Reconnecting the Northern Basin project

Creating fish migration paths across more than 1000 km of waterways.

Fish ladder at Toorale

Attend an upcoming information session

Community members from the Bourke Shire region are invited to come along to an information session being held on 7 May 2024 to learn more about Phase 1 of the project, ask questions and provide feedback to the project team. Prior registration is not required.

Find out more

About the project

The Fish Passage: Reconnecting the Northern Basin project seeks to improve connectivity across the northern Basin and deliver ecological outcomes by reinstating the movement and abundance of migratory native fish species.

Native fish need to migrate to complete key life stages and to avoid drying habitats during drought, with the distance migrated ranging from a few kilometres to entire river systems in the case of species like Golden Perch.

This major infrastructure project aims to address barriers to fish passage at priority sites across the northern Basin, providing a connected ‘highway’ for native fish to migrate. Infrastructure solutions aiding fish migration will be primarily focussed on the construction of fishways.

The project is funded by the Australian Government and being delivered under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan by the department’s Water Group in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries.

The Australian Government has allocated up to $56.8 million to fund the project, of which $30.2 million has been provided to fund Phase 1 site works.

The project is being delivered using a staged approach, with project planning activities occurring in parallel with some early on-ground works.

Project benefits

The project will generate significant benefits, including:

  • increased movement of native fish species across the northern NSW Murray Darling Basin
  • increased abundance of native fish species in the system
  • enhanced cultural values for First Nations communities (native fish are an important part of First Nations cultures in the region)
  • support for regional economies and the creation of local job opportunities during construction
  • increased regional tourism opportunities as native fish populations increase.

Early works

Early on-ground works include works at two initial sites on the Macintyre River including:

  • Holdfast Crossing
  • Macintyre Blockbank A.

Phase 1

Phase 1 of the project includes the construction of fishways at Banarway Weir, Calmundi Weir and Louth Downstream Weir.

It also includes an assessment of reinstated fish passage at Toomelah Weir.

The delivery of early works will reinstate more than 80km of fish passage along Macintyre River, while the delivery of Phase 1 will reinstate more than 370km of fish passage along the Barwon-Darling River system.

Phase 2

The project will progress survey and design activities for identified Phase 2 sites to inform any future funding decision by the Australian Government. Key to these activities will be stakeholder and community engagement.

Project location

If fully implemented, the project will provide access to more than 1000 km of aquatic habitat in the Barwon-Darling and Border Rivers (Macintyre and Dumaresq).

Decorative image - thumb

View a map (PDF.  1.9MB) of Phase 1 sites.

Barwon-Darling Fish Passage Focus Reach map

View a map (PDF, 222 KB) of the proposed project area in the Barwon-Darling.

Border Rivers Fish Passage Focus Reach map

View a map (PDF, 227 KB) of the proposed project area in the Border Rivers.

About fishways

Fishways are structures placed on or around constructed barriers, such as dams or weirs, to provide a passageway to help fish migrate safely upstream and downstream.

Find out more about the different types of fishways, or view several fishway diagrams below:

Stakeholder engagement

We will provide opportunities for local communities and stakeholders to have their say on the project throughout its stages of development and delivery, and this feedback will be used as a key input into project decision-making. Upcoming engagement opportunities will be listed on this webpage and on our stakeholder engagement page.

Engagement with First Nations people

We recognise and acknowledge the unique relationship and deep Connection-to-Country that First Nations people have as the Traditional Owners and First Peoples of Australia.

The wisdom and experience of First Nations communities will play a role in informing our approach. We have a dedicated engagement team who will guide our engagement with these communities, and we look forward to working with them to deliver real and tangible outcomes.

Upcoming community information sessions

Community members from the Bourke Shire region are invited to come along to an information session being held in May 2024 to learn more about Phase 1 of the project, ask questions or provide feedback to the project team.

The information session is being held on:


When: Tuesday 7 May 2024
Time: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Where: Louth Tennis Club (30 Bloxham Street, Louth, NSW 2840)

Contact us for more information


1300 081 047