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Natural Environment


Shoalhaven is located on the coastal plain of the south coast of New South Wales bounded generally by the Illawarra escarpment to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east.

This coastal environment is characterised by a number of major urban centres and a scattering of villages that are surrounded by a series of coastal lakes and natural eucalypt bushland. Two major river systems, the Shoalhaven and the Clyde, provide complimentary relief that supports agricultural, urban and commercial/industrial production infrastructure.

So if you enjoy bushwalking, camping, fishing, bird watching, water sports or just the beauty of the great outdoors, the Shoalhaven is one of the most natural regions in Australia.


Temperatures are generally mild with average temperatures of 15.5C and 26.5C for June and January respectively. Rainfall is more pronounced during the summer/autumn months, with the least rainfall occurring in July, August and September. The average annual rainfall is 1110mm and 1270mm for Nowra and Milton respectively. Follow links for more detailed climate information about Nowra and Ulladulla or go to The Bureau of Meteorology.


The geology is dominated by Permian age sandstones and siltstones. Older Ordovician age slates and shales make up the basement in the Clyde Valley with volcanic intrusions evident in the north of the City and at Milton and Bawley Point. The area is predominantly hilly or mountainous country to the west with a narrow coastal strip to the east. Most of the soils of the area are moderately to strongly acid and due to the parent geology most are of poor nutrient status with low water holding capacity. The high nutrient status soils of volcanic origin (e.g. Milton Monzonite) or alluvial origin (e.g. Shoalhaven Floodplain) have generally been cleared and represent very good agricultural land. This past clearing of vegetation (much of it rainforest) has had significant impacts on regional wildlife.

Flora and Fauna

Today eucalypt forests and woodlands dominate the area with cleared land being prevalent in the alluvial valleys and in regions closer to the coast. Various specialised flora and fauna have developed in the rainforests, wetlands, coastal sand dunes and heath areas.

Crown Land, State Forest and National Park make up 64% of the Shoalhaven land area providing significant habitat for flora and fauna. Diverse coastline habitats represented by beaches, estuaries, wetlands and lakes along the coast are important for both the biodiversity values of the Shoalhaven and commercially for recreational and fishing opportunities.

The Shoalhaven region includes a number of sensitive natural assets. The Shoalhaven River and estuary system, Jervis Bay, Coomondary Swamp and Lake Wollumboola and a number of other coastal lakes and estuaries all represent sensitive natural environments. High population growth rates in the Shoalhaven places considerable pressure on these natural resources, highlighting the need for appropriate management and investment.

More than a third of the Shoalhavens total area is National parklands.

Cudmirrah National Park is popular with anglers and bird watchers - with over 160 species of birds.

Conjola National Park centres on Conjola Lake and is ideal for boating and fishing.

Booderee National Park, in the Jervis Bay Territory is the most visited National Park in Australia. This park is owned by the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community and has always been a significant place for Koori people.

The Jervis Bay Marine Park surrounded by the Jervis Bay National Park ensures that this world famous locality is managed and preserved for locals and visitors alike as they utilise this major recreational resource for fishing, diving, sailing and whale watching.

Other national parks in the Shoalhaven include Morton National Park - large, rugged and with some areas designated as wilderness so very popular with serious bushwalkers
Spectacular Seven Mile Beach Park, which has the longest beach in the area is the historic site of aviator Sir Kingsford Smiths first commercial take off.

Murramarang National Park is situated on the southern end of the Shoalhaven and runs down to the coast and includes 4 coastal islands. Its most famous site is Pebbly Beach where kangaroos are known for their friendliness.

For a full list of facilities and maps see National Parks.

South of the Shoalhaven River, there are significant areas of State Forest and farmland used for forestry purposes. Many sawmills operate along the coastal areas providing employment for sawmill operators and forestry harvesting.

State Forests are available for recreatiuonal purposes and many are located in the Shoalhaven. Youll find a list of these forests and their facilities at the NSW State Forests website. The Department also sell online maps for the South Coast Forests showing all the regularly maintained trails, lookouts and recreation areas.

The Shoalhaven City Council manages over 800 parks and reserves, including over 100 playgrounds, more than 100 picnic areas, 30 boat ramps, 80 playing fields and countless foreshore reserves, boardwalks, beaches, wetlands, bushlands and rainforests. The Shoalhaven offers many different walks from climbing Pigeon House Mountain to the gentle beauty of Bens Walk there is something to suit everyone. There are a list of walks and parks at Shoalhaven Holidays.

Of action for the coming year(s) and whether the aims from the previous year were met. In this way the community can see if Council is on track with its Environmental Management Programs.

Council also provides other online environmental resources from council management plans to ways to that individuals can do through available rebates to pesticide use and a guide for green living at Environmental Management.

How Council is integrating sustainable development into planning and activities can be found at Sustainable Living.

If you want to become involved in local environmental initiatives there are plenty of opportunities and volunteers in any capacity are always welcome.

A Bushfire Risk Management Plan has been formulated by Council and the Community and this site carries relevent information and links

Information about local weeds can be found on Council's weed management site

If you want information about Council Waste and Recycling Services, Shoalhaven Water and for all other services - Go to My Home on Shoalhaven City Councils website.

Shoalhaven Council supports Park and Bush Care Groups 

Beachwatch is a report about current ocean water quality, this is updated each year

Council also offers advice on Solid Fuel Heaters and there use in the City


Landcare groups in the Shoalhaven and Upper Deua catchments consist primarily of groups of neighbouring landholders with a concern about the quality of their land.

Shoalhaven Riverwatch

Over the years members of Shoalhaven Riverwatch have represented an excellent cross section of the Shoalhaven community, including oyster farmers, fishers, farmers, riverside residents, medical professionals, government employees, retirees, civic leaders and local business people. As Riverwatch is a non profit and non political organization, members are attracted by a primary objective to improve the health of the Shoalhaven River, particularly downstream from Tallawa Dam at Kangaroo Valley, NSW.