Running River

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Running River is located near Hidden Valley, 40 km west of Paluma. The river passes through open eucalypt forest forming a steep gorge south of Hidden Valley. This runs for approximately 10 km. Paluma Dam is located on Swamp Creek, a tributary of the Running River. Paluma Dam was built as the major water supply for Townsville and Thuringowa in the 1950s.It is now only a supplementary supply. The dam is owned by NQ water. Capacity is of 11,800 ML.


Smaller Catchments within the Running River Catchment include:


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Riparian Habitat

This catchment was in very good condition in 1970s, and remains in very good condition in 2004. The only change was an increase in the proportion of low cover hill slopes adjacent to the stream network.



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This river system arises in the rainforest-covered mountains of the Paluma Range that are little altered from natural, thus providing it with regular wet season flushes of good quality water. The creek system contains a wide variety of habitats as it progresses from rainforest through gorges to savanna rangelands. The upper river has perennial flow and the abundance of waterbodies here with likely good water quality provides high habitat values. Condition has not been studied but is generally considered to be good. Water quality has not been studied here either, though some data on fish exists from the lower Running River (Pusey et al. 1998). A number of old mines exist throughout this sub-division, though their potential impact on wetlands has not been studied.

Running River wetland condition summary...


SedNet Modelling of Water Quality

The following statistics are summarized from the CSIRO report: Improved SedNet Modelling of Grazing Lands in the Burdekin Catchment by Kinsey-Henderson, A., Sherman, B. and Bartley, R. 2007. This report can be accessed from the report section below.

Model results for the Running River sub-catchment are summarized as follows:

  • Sub-catchment modelled area: 1,095 sq. km.
  • Source contributions: Hillslope = 62%; Gully = 7%; Streambank = 31%
  • Area of sub-catchment with <50% ground cover: 65 sq. km or 6% of sub-catchment
  • Hillslope sediment supply: 517 kg/ha/yr
  • Total suspended sediment (flow weighted) supply: 91 kt/yr
  • Total suspended sediment supply (flow weighted; normalized to area): 834 kg/ha/yr
  • Total suspended sediment end-of-subcatchment (flow weighted) yield: 89 kt/yr
  • Event Mean Concentration (EMC - flow weighted): 313 mg/L
  • Mean Annual Flow: 285,581 ML

In summary, hillslope erosion is identified as the major source of sediment and particulate nutrients affecting water quality within the Running River sub-catchment (62%). However, streambank erosion is also identified a a significant contributor (31%). Sediment loss from hillslopes (517 kg/ha/yr) is predicted to be moderately high, but may be overestimated due to the steep slopes. Much of the upper area of the sub-catchment has dense tree cover. An overestimation is consistent with the relatively small area of hillslopes is poor condition (6%). The moderate to high levels of total sediment loss from all sources (834 kg/ha/yr) may similarly be an overestimated. However, the exposed land tends to be adjacent to river and stream channels, and is predicted to result in streambank erosion. Above average mean annual flow (285,581 ML) due to a highland, rainforest-fed upper catchment, together with moderate to low levels of total suspended sediment (91 kt/yr), result in relatively low event mean concentrations of sediment (313 mg/L) in the Running River sub-catchment.

Water Quality Monitoring

The monitoring site in the Running River catchment is located 5km upstream from the junction with the Burdekin River and has been sampled by the BDTNRM Volunteers program for 2 years. The catchment area for this monitoring site is 682 sq km, of which 88% is used for grazing. Suspended sediment (and associated particulate nutrients) concentations have been consistently low (mean TSS concentration of 165 mg/L over the 2 years) over the monitoring period compared to other catchments of the Burdekin rangelands. These concentrations are considerably lower than the modelling data which suggests that the SedNet model is overestimating sediment export in this catchment. The average annual suspended sediment export for the Running River is estimated at 37,800 tonnes which makes up less than 2% of the average sediment export from the upper Burdekin catchment. The disparities between the monitoring and modelling data are also evident in the loads calculted from the monitoring data.

Environmental Values

The following summary of environmental uses and values is based on information extracted from the following reports: Social, Economic, Cultural and Environmental Values of Streams and Wetlands in the Burdekin Dry Tropics Region by Greiner, R and Hall, N. 2006and Burdekin Basin Draft Water Resource Plan by Queensland Dept. of Natural Resources, Mines and Water, 2006. The Greiner and Hall 2006 report may be accessed from the the report section below.

Definition of Environmental Values in the Queensland Water Quality Guidelines 

Fish.jpg Aquatic Ecosystems: Running River is a perennial stream.

Ecological disturbance is minor along Running River. Fish introductions (eg Eastern Rainbow Trout) to Paluma Dam. Introduced non-native fish may affect populations down river. There are no significant fish species in Lake Paluma. The slightly acidic, low nutrient waters of the Lake are not suitable for most fish species. A small population of Spangled Perch is all that remains of a stocking program which also included Brown Trout.

Swimmer.jpg Primary Recreation:

Swimming in Paluma Dam.

Yacht.jpg Secondary Recreation:

Lake Paluma is open to all forms of non-motorised vessels and electric motors. Some recreational fishing.

Eye.jpg Visual Recreation:

Bush camping at Paluma Dam. There are about 20 marked camp sites and basic facilities for campers and information for visitors. Picnic tables available.

House.jpg Farm Use:

Minimal, in lower parts of the creeks/rivers. On grazing leasehold land.

Cow.jpg Stock Watering:

Minimal, in lower parts of the creeks/rivers. On grazing leasehold land.

Glass.jpg Drinking Water:

Paluma Dam supplies water to Townsville via Mt Spec pipeline.

Feet.jpg Cultural and Spirtual:

Traditional owners are Warragamay and Nywang people.

The Paluma Range National Park (Mt Spec section) was declared a World Heritage Area in 1989. The majority of the Park lies outside the Burdekin Dry Tropics area but covers the sources of these creeks and rivers, thereby providing them the high intrinsic values associated with World Heritage.



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Please feel free to download the maps in the following formats:




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