kanamaluka / Tamar Estuary

About the Estuary

Aboriginal landscape

The kanamaluka/Tamar estuary has a long history of human settlement, with many Aboriginal living places on the flood plains and tidal flats. The meeting place of the North Esk and South Esk rivers was also a meeting place for the Panninher people from the Norfolk Plains, the Tyerrenotepanner people from the Northern Midlands and the traditional owners of the country, the Letteremairrener people.

The estuary provided a rich food source of vegetation, eggs, waterfowl, fish and shellfish for Aboriginal people for over 40,000 years, and it continues to be an important cultural landscape today.

In recognition of the Estuary's cultural significance, kanamaluka / Tamar Estuary was formally adopted as a dual name in 2014. The name was researched and recommended by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre as part of the palawa kani language programme.

European arrival

The estuary served as the main shipping entry point to the region following the arrival of Europeans, as well as provided access for the establishment of towns along the waterway.

As more people arrived, a combined sewage and stormwater system was installed in the mid-1800s which was a major improvement at the time. The system has been upgraded several times since then, but now more capacity is required to cope with an increasing population density within Launceston to reduce overflows and pollutants entering the estuary.

As a valued landscape, the estuary has hosted many events, including boating and recreational activities.

In the 1920s the bank of the estuary was home to a man-made beach located at Royal Park with sand trucked in from George Town. The intent was to create a recreational gathering place for locals; however, the sand would wash away from the bank and after several attempts the beach concept was abandoned.

Trevallyn Power Station was commissioned in 1955, which generates hydropower from flow down the South Esk River via Lake Trevallyn. It is set within the Trevallyn Nature Recreation Area, a popular place for walking, water activities, picnics, and sightseeing.

The kanamaluka/Tamar Estuary was given its European name in 1804 by Colonel William Paterson after the River Tamar in England, which is also a long estuary with extensive mudflats. As is the case with the kanamaluka/Tamar Estuary, these mudflats are associated with significant environmental values, recognised internationally for their importance to migratory and wading birds.

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The Estuary today

Today, the estuary is used for shipping freight, commercial boat cruises as well as Tasmania’s agricultural and primary industries who rely on the water in the catchment for grazing, dairy, forestry, and mining.

A focal point for community and social events, boating, fishing and recreation, the estuary remains an important source of enjoyment for the regions and communities it flows through.

Modern foreshore developments like Riverbend Park have increased interest in the estuary. Picturesque towns such as Beauty Point and George Town have also increased the desire to care for our natural assets, and this creates a renewed focus on making sure the estuary is healthy for people, animals, birds, fish, and native plant life.

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