Bellingen Riverwatch

Our Rivers. Our Future.

We acknowledge the Gumbaynggirr people, the traditional custodians of the land on which we work, learn and live, and their connection to land, sea and culture. We pay our respect to all Elders - past, present, and emerging - through thoughtful and collaborative approaches to our work.

Our Purpose

Citizen scientists and the scientific community working together to collect and communicate long term data to ensure our rivers and ecosystems are protected for future generations.

Our Community

The waterways of the Bellingen Shire are highly valued by the local community as they they support many activities, such as recreation and supplementary drinking water. There is therefore a strong community interest in monitoring and improving the water quality and riparian health.

Our Research Questions


Bellingen Riverwatch Citizen Scientists and Scientists work together to answer three questions:


  1. What were the water quality and macroinvertebrate grades and scores for Bellingen Riverwatch sites annually and each summer?

  2. What do the water quality grades and scores mean for river health at each site with respect to possible causes and associated management actions?

  3. Is community knowledge about the factors that contribute to river and catchment health increasing, and does this reflect a change in community values towards our rivers?

What We Do

  • Our volunteers test for water quality and macroinvertebrates across the Bellinger and Kalang catchments.

  • We share our data with turtle recovery scientists.

  • We interpret our data to make it accessible to the public.

  • We increase community knowledge, skills and connectedness to support river health long into the future.

How We Began

Bellingen Riverwatch (BR) was created to provide consistent water quality data in the Bellinger and Kalang catchments following a disease outbreak that caused a mass death event of the Critically Endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle (BRST) in early 2015. A lack of water quality data was identified by scientists and community alike as a priority focus area. Read more

“Bellingen Riverwatch is taking citizen science forward and by working together with government, consultants and researchers, are ensuring the data collected is useful, informative, timely and valuable for informing holistic management of waterways and the species they support.”


- Adrian Dickson, Science Division, Department of Planning, Industry & Environment