A NSW Government website

Northern Basin Toolkit

Macquarie Marshes Enhanced Watering Project

Restoring flow distribution to the wetlands.

View of Macquarie Marshes.

About Macquarie Marshes

The Macquarie Marshes is one of the largest inland semi-permanent wetland systems in NSW. The area is an important nesting site for many waterbird species and provides habitat for a range of plants and animals. Parts of the system are Ramsar-listed as a wetland of international importance.

A variety of environmental flows are used to maintain the health of the flow-dependent parts of the Marshes system to support vegetation and wildlife. These typically take the form of water pulses (‘freshes’) and are managed by the NSW and Australian Governments.

About the project

Part of the Northern Basin Toolkit, the Macquarie Marshes Enhanced Watering Project aims to stabilise and restore the previous bed level of a rapidly eroding stream in the southern part of the Marshes, called the 'Oxley Break Number 3'.

Over the last 20 years, the Oxley Break channel has deepened and widened, primarily during major flood events. As a result, it is now flowing more often than was the case and has changed the direction of flows away from the channel of the Macquarie River.

The restoration works at the Oxley Break channel bed will aim to reinstate the bed conditions from 10-15 years ago and reduce further enlargement of the channel itself.

It will improve the effectiveness of environmental watering during dry periods by increasing the volume of flow remaining in the Macquarie River during low flow periods.

The department’s Water Group in consultation with landholders, First Nations communities and other NSW Government agencies, are currently investigating the best way to strengthen and restore the structure of the channel.

Preliminary work is focussing on constructing a 0.5 to 1.0 m high natural bed control using rocks. This will help stabilise the stream and reinstate the historical water level that the stream used to have when it started flowing.

Other investigations will also assess the viability of similar works on the Macquarie River further upstream.

The project is funded by the Australian Government and is being delivered by the department’s Water Group in partnership with the Environment and Heritage Group.

Project benefits

The work will:

  • stabilise the eroding stream to reduce further changes to flows
  • improve flow distribution to the wetlands of the southern marshes during dry times
  • support native vegetation and wildlife in the area.

Project location

The 'Oxley Break No.3' is located upstream of the southern Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve in central northern NSW, around 80 km north of Warren and 30 km west of Quambone.

Stakeholder engagement

We will provide ample 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 First Nations people have as the Traditional Owners and First Peoples of Australia.

The wisdom and experience of First Nations communities will play a critical role in supporting 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, tangible and widely accepted outcomes.

Contact us

For more information call 1300 081 047 or email nbtk@dpie.nsw.gov.au