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Estuaries in NSW

Myall Estuary

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[Image of Estuary] Myall Estuary

Shape, Size and Scale of Estuary

Estuary Type

Lake and river

Estuary Characteristics

Area Catchment 1660 km2
Waterway Area 123 km2
Entrance Characteristics Open and untrained
Location (Lat-Long) 32.675S ,  152.149E
Distance (from Sydney) 240 km North
Summary of Available Data Data Pages

Physical Features

The Myall Lakes comprise a series of three interconnected water bodies. The total waterway area of the Lakes and River is 123 km2 with a catchment area of 1,660 km2>. The northern most lake is mostly fresh while the second and third lakes are slightly saline (depending on rainfall). The lower Myall River connects the Myall lakes with the lower Port at Corrie Island. The lower Myall River, which is approximately 25 km in length, joins the Myall Lakes system with Port Stephens. Although the river entrance is permanently open, tidal response within the lakes is severely attenuated due to the limited hydraulic conveyance. Tide stage attenuation along the lower Myall River is relatively uniform with a mean spring tidal range of 1.35 m at the entrance diminishing to 0.03 m at the Broadwater, the southern-most lake of the Myall system which also includes Boolambayte Lake and Myall Lake. Consequently, the lakes' waters are virtually fresh with little estuarine vegetation. The mean lakes' level is typically super-elevated 0.1 m above mean sea level. The town of Bulahdelah is located west of the lakes, while Tea Gardens is just upstream of the river entrance.

Significant Estuarine Tributaries

Myall Lake And Estuary
Shinglers Creek
Boolambayte Lake
Bombah Broadwater
Pipers Creek
Myall River
Crawford River
Shinglers Creek

Population and Holiday Centres

Tea Gardens
Hawkes Nest
Bombah Point

Special Attributes


  • Popular camping area.
  • The lakes are fully contained within the Myall Lakes National Park (total area 345 km2). There is a notable variety of land-based vegetation and wildlife.
  • Fourth largest NSW estuarine waterway area.
  • The lower Myall River is frequently visited by dolphins.

Estuarine Vegetation

The spatial data is reproduced from NSW Fisheries(2006/7) studies, whilst the species makeup is from the West et al.(1985). This map shows the spatial extent of the Estuarine Vegetation.

Type Area Species 1
Mangroves 2.830 av,ae
Seagrass 2.112 z
Saltmarsh 2.777


R.J. Williams, G. West, D. Morrison and R.G. Creese, (2006),
"Estuarine Resources of New South Wales",
prepared for the Comprehensive Coastal Assessment (DoP) by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Port Stephens.

R.J. West, C.A. Thorogood, T.R. Walford and R.J. Williams. (1985).
"An Estuarine Inventory for New South Wales, Australia".
Fisheries Bulletin 2. Department of Agriculture, New South Wales.

Estuary Commerce

fishing, oyster, port, boating, tourism, sewage

Management Issues

This estuary falls in the area covered by Hunter Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority.

Myall Estuary

Port Stephens/Myall Lakes Estuary Management Committee

Port Stephens and Great Lakes Councils have formed the Port Stephens / Myall Lakes Estuary Management Committee to prepare a management plan for the combined estuary. The Management plan has been finalised and is currently being implemented by the two councils. Preparation of the Plan involved the following activities.

Data Compilation Study

This study reviewed the extent of existing information and defined issues relating to the estuary as

  • Myall Lakes, water quality, illegal development, conservation, access and recreation pressures
  • Myall River, shoaling/navigation, bank erosion, conflict of use, development pressures and water quality

Estuary Processes Study

The processes study is a broad summary of catchment usage, coastal, tides and river processes, flora and fauna, sedimentation, waterway usage and water quality. For example:

  • The waterways of Port Stephens and Myall Lakes support a wide variety of estuarine habitats, some of which are unique in the State
  • Approximately 65% of the catchment is naturally vegetated and a wide range of vegetation habitats are represented.
  • The total area occupied by oyster leases is approximately 11.5 km2or about 7% of the waterway area.

Estuary Management Study and Plan

The management study and plan divided the estuary into a number of management areas to determine management issues, options and recommended actions. Priority actions were recommended which aim to improve baseline information, provide a robust planning framework, address existing problems and maintain government and community commitment to plan implementation. A significant acknowledgement is the link of shoreline erosion with the removal of riparian vegetation. Great Lakes and Port Stephens Councils are currently implementing the management plan.

The Estuary Management Process 2

Process Status Date
Form Estuary Management Committee (EMC) completed
Assemble Existing Data completed 1997
Carryout Process Study completed 1999
Carryout Estuary Management Study completed 2000
Draft Estuary Management Plan completed 2000
Review Estuary Management Plan completed 2002
Implement Estuary Management Plan commenced 2002
Monitor and Review Estuary Management Process none

Contact Details

Great Lakes Council Gerard Tuckerman
Ph (02) 6591 7274


Local Government Areas

Great Lakes

NSW 1:25000 Map Name(s)

The Branch
Bombah Point
Myall Lake
Port Stephens