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Volunteer Interpreters at Tidbinbilla: Tidbinbilla River

Volunteer Interpreters at Tidbinbilla: Tidbinbilla River

Bottle number: 69

About the water

A colour photo of Peter Hoad, Volunteer Interpreter, with the water sample from Tidbinbilla River.
Peter Hoad

Collected at: Tidbinbilla River within the Sanctuary at Tidbinbilla by the sculpture of the 'man-reading-book', ACT

Zone 55, N: 6073700m, E: 673100m (MGA)

View location on Google map

Collected by: Volunteer Interpreters at Tidbinbilla

Volunteer Interpreters have been in the Sanctuary since its re-opening in April 2008, providing information about its natural life.

In the wetland system, everything is closely linked to water and so the idea arose to keep an eye on the water quality of the wetlands ponds.

A selected group of interested volunteers received training by the Waterwatch Coordinator Martin Lind.

Water quality:

Turbidity: <10
pH: 7.2
Salinity: measured Electrical Conductivity: 120
Phosphates: 0.75
Dissolved oxygen: 4.8ppm, 82%

Very high phosphate level! We usually measure around 0.1.

ACT Waterwatch says:

This site is new and still pretty raw. However it's starting to settle down, and most of the water quality parameters are looking good. As a wetland, one expects a higher level of nutrients than in a moving waterway. As plants become more established at this site, they should take up these nutrients. The situation has been complicated by the 2003 fires, as ash is often high in nutrients as well.

A colour photo of the water sample collection site at Tidbinbilla River.
Tidbinbilla River at the Sanctuary at Tidbinbilla, ACT.

About the site


The Tidbinbilla River flows through the Tidbinbilla valley, origin in the hills south of Fishing Gap and joining Paddy's River east of Paddy's River Road. A weir was constructed on the Tidbinbilla River in the 1970s to provide a visual experience to visitors and to provide water storage for the pond system of the wetlands, now called 'the Sanctuary'.

The Sanctuary pond system is located within Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and was first constructed in the 1970s. While the ponds have been built off the Tidbinbilla River, it is thought that they are located on a previous path of the river.

The Sanctuary has been severely affected by the 2003 bush fires. The pond system was re-developed after the fires and has been designed as much as is practical as a 'closed system'. The aim of this is to reduce the need to take water from the Tidbinbilla River and to ensure that any water that makes its way back to the River in case of flooding is of high quality. Since this re-development, the Sanctuary protects wildlife with a predator-proof fence.

Land use:

As part of a Nature Reserve, the purpose of the Sanctuary is to protect a range of local wildlife species and to provide a nature experience to visitors whereby people are encouraged to re-connect with nature. The central theme of the Sanctuary is 'Interdependence', the relationship between the physical environment and all living things. The Tidbinbilla River flows through the Sanctuary, parts of it are sheltered from human influence, other parts of it are exposed to light recreational activity. The walking path follows and crosses the Tidbinbilla River in parts, including a 'Children's' Crossing' about 500m upstream from the sample site, where kids can 'hop' across the river using big granite stepping stones.


The Tidbinbilla River is flowing through Eucalypt Forest at the sample site. The site has been affected by the 2003 bush fires, so there is a high presence of colonising species of the genus Acacia. In between native species such as Maidenhair fern, Bursaria native Geraniums and native Raspberry there are also individual plants of non-native species such as Purple top (Verbena bonariensis), wild Rose (Rosa sp.) and Scottish Thistle.

What's going on:

Riparian zones of some Sanctuary ponds have been re-vegetated in late 2007/early 2008. The Tidbinbilla River has experienced minimal disturbance during re-development time. Only the part below the weir has had granite rocks put in. The man-made weir wall exists since the 1970s.

The Tidbinbilla River at the measuring site has a bridge with a display feature and benches where visitors spend some time taking in the landscape (some of our volunteers call this the 'contemplation corner'). The path winds around about 3m from the river's edge on the embankment.

The Tidbinbilla River provides habitat to local wildlife such as dragonflies, lizards, frogs, bush birds, snakes as well as a number of macroinvertebrates. When we were taking the sample for this reading, a big Red-bellied Black Snake came by!

Volunteers monitor water quality at 5 different spots in the Sanctuary, at each of the 4 ponds as well as the Tidbinbilla River.