Wonga Wetlands is situated on the Murray River, just 5 minutes from the Albury CBD, and offers stunning sightseeing, birdwatching and bushwalking opportunities on 80 hectares of floodplain.
The site is used by members of the public, school groups and researchers who all come to enjoy and learn about riverine and wetland ecosystems.
The history of Wonga Wetlands stretches back to the Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri people for whom the area provided an important source of food such as fish, mussels, turtles, crayfish, snails and birds (the word ‘Wonga’ means black cormorant).
Today, the Wiradjuri Cultural and Education Centre at Wonga Wetlands shows us what an indigenous campsite looks like, with areas for sleeping, cooking, tool-making and rock art as well as a space for ceremony and dancing.
Following European settlement, many homesteads were established in the area, including Riverdale on the current Wonga Wetlands site. A quote from Mrs Margaret Pearce, former owner of Riverdale, gives us an idea of what life was like at Riverdale in the early 1900’s (taken from the Albury City Council website):
“In June 1901 my Grandparents, Jacob and Pauline Lobbe purchased ‘Hillview’, later renamed ‘Riverdale’. Possibly the name changed following the 1917 flood. The house is said to have been erected in the 1880’s.
I can remember watching in awe my grandfather working in the blacksmiths shed at the back of the lock-up shed. He had a portable saw mill and cut the slabs which formed the walls of the shed in which he did his blacksmithing. He also cut all the post and rails which formed the boundary fencing around Riverdale.
A platypus family used to live below the large steel tank at the pump house. Swans, pelicans, swamp hens, shags and of course hundreds of ducks as well as small birds in the bulrushes were to be seen. Of course one cannot forget the tiger and black snakes which were very plentiful.
The original Murray River flowed beside Waterview Lane, until the present creek eroded to such an extent that the River changed its course.
Prior to the erection of Dartmouth Dam it was not unusual to have floods annually, depending on winter and spring rainfall. While the Dartmouth Dam was filling floods became rarer, however we then had to suffer high water levels throughout summer/autumn for the irrigation flows.”
Today, the original homestead has been converted into a visitor centre, with a transportable building donated by La Trobe University, Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre and Charles Sturt University, used by school and community groups to learn about the wetlands, and the ecological and cultural connections of this special place. (Aquatic Environment Education Centre).
The site is unique in that it has established a natural flow regime back to the wetlands, which previously received limited amounts of water during times of the year when they wouldn’t normally fill, through the use of reclaimed wastewater. This has resulted in a thriving ecosystem which visitors can enjoy. Visiting the wetlands, you may see straw-necked ibis, crimson-spotted rainbow fish, growling grass frog, dragonflies, sugar gliders and eastern snake-necked turtles. In fact, 154 bird species have been identified at Wonga.
This short video gives a great overview of all there is to see and do at Wonga Wetlands:
Wonga Wetlands is 5 minutes from the Albury CBD, on the Riverina Highway towards Howlong. The wetlands are open from dawn to dusk, and the visitor car park closes at 4.30 pm. A pedestrian gate allows access to the wetlands outside of business hours.
Learn more about Wonga Wetlands at Albury City Council‘s website.