Wetlands and rivers

Water in its natural state in the ACT occurs in many guises, from clear trickling mountain creeks to lowland ponds throbbing with frog calls, from crashing waterfalls to deep quiet cliff-side river pools. Water sustains not only us but countless other organisms too. Water defined the very shape of the Territory, ensuring a reliable water catchment for the new capital.

Every drop of rain that falls in the ACT eventually runs to the sea at the mouth of the Murray in South Australia. If it falls on the peaks the drop spends time in mossy bogs where wildflowers glow in summer, before running down the slopes in streams under white Ribbon Gums and old tree ferns, over granite boulders carpeted with moss where wombats stoop to drink. Down the Cotter River it proceeds where platypus float and dive; it pauses in the cold depths of reservoirs before entering the mighty Murrumbidgee. Here, under dark whispering River Oaks the pace is sometimes quieter in pools where old Murray Cod and Murray Crayfish lurk, sometimes rushing through gorges below Peregrine Falcon nests on the cliffs.

Elsewhere in the Territory a trillion drops coalesce to form life-rich wetlands, now permanent, once ephemeral, from Jerrabomberra to Mulligans Flat, or they fill the urban lakes which support a wealth of fish, waterbirds and insects. Water rats, water dragons, frogs, turtles, cormorants and herons, dragonflies, reeds and cumbungi, floating ferns, bottlebrushes – so many living things rely on us recognising their needs, as well as our own.

Click on a thumbnail to further explore this habitat.