The Catchment

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About the Molonglo Catchment
Molonglo Valley looking north over rural residential Carwoola from the side of Taliesin Hills.

The Molonglo catchment extends from the Murrumbidgee River to the headwaters of Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers and Jerrabomberra Creek, an area of about 200,000 Ha. The catchment landscape includes areas seriously affected by the January 2003 bushfires and ongoing drought. Apart from the urban areas of Queanbeyan and inner Canberra, the catchment includes villages, rural residential areas and farmland, native and pine forests, wetlands, national parks and the foreshores of Googong Dam, which supplies some of Canberra’s and Queanbeyan’s water. All of these areas provide run-off that contributes to water supply for irrigation areas and cities downstream.

The catchment is an ancient landscape of plains, rivers and streams, rolling hills and low mountains within the upper Murrumbidgee catchment. The soils are generally thin and stony over the ridges and hillsides with more fertile soils in the foothills and valleys. When devoid of vegetation, they readily erode to form gullies.

The Vegetation
The vegetation is (or was) predominantly natural temperate grassland, which has now been largely replaced through urban settlement or modified by pastoral activities. There were also box-gum grassy woodlands, still seen on many of the surrounding hills today. These diminishing woodlands and remaining grasslands are vital habitat for a great variety of rare and endangered animals and plants. Dry sclerophyll forests occur on slopes in the headwaters of the catchment.

Human settlement
For the last 21,000 years, and probably a lot longer, the Molonglo catchment has been part of the rich and diverse home of the Ngunnawal people. Evidence of this occupation still abounds in the countryside including scarred trees, artefact scatters and stone arrangements. Local Ngunnawal descendants still care for their culture and country.

The first European explorers arrived in 1820 and found squatters already present tending their sheep. The 1828 census identified settlements at Canberry, Duntroon, Ginninderra, Jerrabomberra, Tuggeranong and Queenbeeann stock stations.

The urban areas of inner Canberra and Queanbeyan are significant parts of the catchment and contain most of the catchment’s estimated population of 130,000. Outside the urban areas, pastoral and forestry activities predominate.

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Last modified: 05/06/2014