Our Waterways

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Our region has more than 20,000 km of waterways!

Fitzroy Region Water Quality Improvement Plan

We all rely on healthy waterways for survival. It’s in our own best interests to protect rivers, wetlands and our oceans for the future. Through funding from the Australian Government’s Reef Programme, FBA collaborated with scientists, industry experts, communities and all levels of government to develop the Fitzroy Water Quality Improvement Plan, WQIP:2015.

Major rivers of the Fitzroy Basin

  • Connors River joins the Isaac River, both rivers start in the north of the basin
  • Nogoa River originates out west and combines to form the Mackenzie River
  • Dawson River starts in the south-west of the basin in the Carnarvon Range
  • Fitzroy River is formed where the Mackenzie and Dawson Rivers meet

Facts about rivers of the Fitzroy Basin


  • More than 20,000 kilometres of waterways flow through the Fitzroy Basin, all tributaries feed the mighty Fitzroy River which flows out to sea near Rockhampton.
  • When rain falls in the western-most part of the basin and flows into the Nogoa River, it will travel about 960 kilometres to reach the mouth of the Fitzroy River.
  • The Dawson River is the largest tributary of the Fitzroy River at about 650km in length.
  • The amount of water that flows from the Fitzroy Basin into the ocean each year is about 4800 gigalitres. One gigalitre (1000 million litres) is enough liquid to fill about 444 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

What is a wetland and why do they matter?

StLawrence wetlands
Wetlands are areas of land that are permanently or temporarily covered by water. They provide habitat for many plants and animals, and also play an important role in the landscape.

Wetlands provide food and habitat

Wetlands are often important sources of drinking water for animals, especially as refuge in times of drought. They are places to live, rest and breed for many birds and fish.

They support special plants and animals that are often unique to wetland environments and are important feeding and habitat sites for many migratory birds.

Coastal wetlands include inter-tidal areas where sea grass and other food sources for marine animals thrive.

Wetlands offer flood protection

Wetlands, including floodplains, help reduce the destructive impact of flood waters by storing and slowly releasing water.

Wetlands naturally filter our water

Wetlands enable vegetation to flourish, including lots of sedges and rushes.

Silt, contaminants, and bacteria may settle or get trapped in the vegetation or soil of wetland ecosystems as water flows through – helping to clean the water.

Other names for wetlands
Wetlands might also be called: rivers, creeks, mangroves, sand flats, estuaries, salt flats, marshes, springs, swamps, lakes, lagoons, dams, floodplains, beaches, rock pools, mangrove forests and melaleuca woodland coral reefs, deltas, mud flats, braided channels, streams, intertidal flats.

The Great Barrier Reef

We live in a catchment featuring the largest river system flowing to the Great Barrier Reef. A few facts about this natural wonder:
One great ecosystem, many reefs and islands

The Great Barrier Reef includes more than 3000 separate coral reefs and some 900 islands.

Of these islands, 125 are situated in Fitzroy Basin Association’s coastal region including Great Keppel Island, and the Capricornia Cays National Park – eight islands formed from sand deposition on coral fragments, which rise just a few metres above the high tide mark.

Where does the reef start and finish?

The Great Barrier Reef’s northern end begins just south of Papua New Guinea. Its coral reefs and islands extend along Queensland’s east coast.

The reef’s southern end is near Lady Elliott Island, north-east of the city of Bundaberg or Rules Beach on the coast.

So the total length of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is about 2,300 km, or 1,430 miles.

Marine life loves the reef

Thousands of species rely on the reef. Iconic marine life like dugongs, turtles, dolphins, whales, fish, molluscs and birds call the reef home.

The Capricornia Cays and Curtis Island near Gladstone are home to some of the largest turtle rookeries in Queensland. All species present in our region are migratory and may travel thousands of kilometres to return to breed in the area.

The reef also comprises many special ecosystems and plants. It is a biodiversity hotspot.

How FBA is protecting waterways & the reef

Fitzroy Basin Association works in a number of ways to help including: