Waterways carve their way through the Kimberley in a spectacular manner and provide a special resource for us all to enjoy. The Department of Water (DoW) is responsible for looking after all our water needs now and into the future. DoW plan, allocate and protect the Kimberley's water resources, and provide information and advice on waterways management.
Across the Kimberley, 33 near pristine waterways and catchment areas have been identified. These areas represent some of the last remaining 'natural' ecosystems in Australia and area exceptionally beautiful.
The Kimberley rivers and wetlands have environmental, social, cultural and economic value. They are used for recreation and tourism, aquaculture and fisheries, watering of stock and irrigation, and are also an important ecological, scientific, cultural and spiritual resource.
Rivers of the East Kimberley include the Durack, Salmond, Chamberlain, Pentecost, Forrest, Kind and Ord. The Ord River, with its tributaries, the Dunham, Panton, Nicholson, Bow and Negri rivers, produces the second largest flow volume in Western Australia.
In the early 1970s, the Ord River was dammed to provide a more reliable supply of water for the irrigation areas. Lake Argyle, formed by the dam, is the largest man-made body of water in Australia. Its volume, when full (ie. when the dam starts to spill waters) is approximately 10,700 GL, or roughly 15 times the combined volume of all of Perth's
water-supply dams. Water from the Ord River is used to irrigate up to 15,000 hectares of horticulture, timber and other crops throughout the Ord Irrigation Area.
The damming of the Ord River has had a major impact on indigenous cultural values including the inundation of significant sites, hunting grounds, travel routes and access to the river from a resultant thickening of riparian vegetation.
Protecting our waterways is important to ensure their long-term conservation. With increasing numbers of visitors, some waterways are already showing signs of people pressure.
We hope you can enjoy our waterways and as you do so, remember it is the responsibility of all who experience the beauty of the Kimberley to ensure that these virtually untouched areas remain as such.
Caring for Kimberley Waterways - Tips for Visitors
The watercourses, spectacular gorges and permanent pools of the Kimberley are valuable tourist attractions. Most campers choose to stay beside rivers for the scenery and for access to water for swimming, fishing, cooking and washing. When enjoying Kimberley rivers, help to protect them by taking the following actions:
1.Stay on existing tracks. New tracks destroy vegetation and cause erosion.
2.Park well away from waterways and use established campsites, trails and picnic areas. Tyres and trampling cause vegetation damage and soil erosion.
3.Take all rubbish out with you and dispose of it appropriately. Follow the mantras "pack it in, pack it out" and "leave nothing but footprints".
4.Use toiles where provided, or plan ahead and take a spade or trowel with you to bury faeces and toilet paper at least 100 metres from watercourses. This will minimize contamination of water supplies.
5.Do not urinate in waterholes or creeks: this can spread disease.
6.Slip, slop, slap - but don't 'slop' excessively just before swimming: sunscreen chemicals can contaminate waterholes, leaving a toxic surface scum.
7.Ensure your boat is well-serviced. Poorly maintained engines leak fuel and oil, which contaminate waterways.
8.Wash dishes and yourself at least 50 metres from watercourses, use minimal soap, detergent or shampoo, and scatter used water. Even the best biodegradable soap can take years to break down and any sop product introduced into fresh water can severely affect plants and aquatic animals.
9.Use only fallen, dead wood for fires or bring your own and keep fires small. Breaking standing trees or cutting down branches leaves obvious scars and destroys animal habitat - it is also illegal in some areas.
10.Think before you dump anything near a river.
11.Drive slowly through natural creek crossings. Wash from water can increase erosion and silting downstream.
12.Fish for the future - take home all tackle and only catch what you can eat. Size and bag limits apply.
13.Regularly check all your equipment for seeds. Weed seeds are easily spread.
14.Leave rocks, shells, plants, feathers, fossils, artefacts and other objects as you find them. Pass the gift of discovery on to those who follow. It is illegal to move fossils and artefacts.
15.Never touch Aboriginal rock art or disturb sites of significance.
For more information Contact Us