Batemans Bay and Clyde River Estuary

Bhunduu is the name local Walbanga people gave to what is now more commonly referred to as the Clyde River.

Today, the coastal town of Batemans Bay is on the Clyde River Estuary, but the Bhunduu (Clyde River) catchment remains largely undeveloped, draining mostly from National Parks and State Forests. The estuary is in near pristine condition and has nationally significant wetlands with large areas of mangroves, saltmarsh and seagrass. The tidal reaches of the river are included in the Batemans Marine Park, which protects the area from commercial fishing and some areas from recreational fishing.

The Clyde River is important to the local Batemans Bay community for recreational activities such boating, swimming, fishing, camping and kayaking. Commercially, oyster cultivation and tourism are the two most valuable industries on the river.

The importance of the Clyde River determined the need to prepare a framework to guide Council on how best to manage the estuary and surrounding public land, with the aim to improve and maintain the natural environment and reflect the community’s values of the estuary. The Clyde River Estuary Management Plan (EMP) represents the first stage of what is an ongoing and evolving process.

Batemans Bay and Clyde River Estuary Management Study and Plan

Study area

The study area consists of the tidal waterway, foreshore and adjacent land of Batemans Bay and Clyde River, including the entrance and major tributaries.

The Clyde River drains from a catchment of approximately 1,800km2. The catchment is mainly undeveloped and exists in a mostly forested state, although some settlement exists along the foreshores in the lower catchment of the estuary.

Study aims

An Estuary Management Study (EMS) forms the basis for the Estuary Management Plan.

The major aim of the project is to prepare a long-term management plan for the sustainable use of the Clyde River and surrounding public land, in which all values and uses are considered, and outlines management strategies to assist in the:

  • conservation of wildlife habitats (aquatic and terrestrial), ecosystems and biotic communities, both within and fringing the river and estuary
  • conservation of the aesthetic values of the estuary and its wetlands
  • prevention of further estuarine and foreshore degradation
  • repair of damage to the estuarine and foreshore environments, and
  • provision of a set of guidelines under which sustainable use of resources, including commercial and recreational uses, may be evaluated.

The EMS builds on from previous studies, to:

  • identify the place of the estuary in terms of broader planning issues
  • identify essential features or values of the estuary
  • document current uses and conflicts of use in the estuary
  • identify possible future land-uses and assess threats and their impact on the essential features, and
  • assess the need for nature conservation, remedial measures and other strategies.

Purpose of the plan

The Estuary Management Plan (EMP) is a working document that provides a program of strategic actions to assist responsible parties in managing the waterways, foreshores and catchments of the estuary. The main aim of the EMP is summarised in the vision statement for the estuary:

The catchments, waterways and tributaries of the Clyde River Estuary and Batemans Bay, will be protected and enhanced to preserve their environmental, social and cultural features that are of local, regional and national significance. Environmentally sustainable recreational and economic uses of the Clyde River Estuary and Batemans Bay will be encouraged, to ensure that the waterway remains a viable natural resource that can be appreciated in the same way by future generations.

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As of 1 March 2022, the 45 existing State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) have been consolidated into 11 policies.

Any references on this page to any of the amended SEPPs outlined on the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure's website should be replaced with the new applicable consolidated policy.

Estuary Management Plan revision

The Batemans Bay and Clyde River Estuary Management Plan was prepared to meet the requirements of the NSW Estuary Management Policy (1992) and NSW Coastal Policy (1997).

Both policies have been replaced by the NSW Coastal Management Act 2016 and the State Environmental Planning Policy (Resilience and Hazards) 2021 (previously known as Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy 2018). Council has until 2021 to update and integrate the existing Batemans Bay and Clyde River Estuary Management Plan into the new coastal management framework.

Council is currently preparing a Coastal Management Program (CMP) that will integrate all estuaries in Eurobodalla into a single program. In addition to the work currently being undertaken by Council, the NSW Government is preparing a range of studies associated with the construction of the Batemans Bay bridge that will contribute to moving estuary management forward.

We can help you

For more information, contact Council's Coastal Management Planner, Cameron Whiting: