Narrandera Fisheries Centre


Narrandera Fisheries Centre

The Narrandera Fisheries Centre (NFC), 6 km east of Narrandera, was opened in 1962 as a research centre to study the breeding biology and ecology of inland aquatic systems. Since then, NFC has been the centre of inland freshwater fisheries research in New South Wales, and has also developed into a productive hatchery, providing fingerlings of four native fish species (Murray cod, Trout cod, Golden perch and Silver perch) to improve freshwater recreational fisheries and conservation initiatives.

The Centre fulfils a number of roles including breeding, conservation, environmental surveys, NSW rivers management, aquaculture, reporting on illegal activities and community education. It aims to raise public awareness of the state of native fish populations.

Research activities based at Narrandera focus on important scientific research into native and introduced species of fish in the Murray-Darling Basin. These species range from popular recreational species such as Murray cod, golden perch and silver perch, to small-bodied species like Murray Darling rainbowfish, Australian smelt and the endangered purple spotted gudgeon or Olive perchlet.

NFC is a small, multi-disciplinary facility containing staff from Fisheries Research, Corporate Services, Aquaculture and Indigenous Fisheries and Charles Sturt University. We also host vocational placement and university researchers from time to time.


Laboratory Analysis Report

Pollution Management

John Lake Centre

Aquarium at the John Lake Centre

The Narrandera site also incorporates the ‘John Lake Centre’ a modern educational facility that is an invaluable tool for schools and the general public. Both native and introduced species are on display, including 'Agro', a large Murray cod, as well as a theatrette, beautiful parklands and a small lake. Four fishing workshops for children between the ages of 8 and 14 are held annually and regular daily tours of the centre cater for people from a diverse range of ages and backgrounds.  Individual and group visitors are welcome.

General tour prices  (incl GST) as at July 2017

  • Adults $7.70
  • Student (primary) $4.40
  • Pensioners/Student (tertiary) $6.60
  • Family (2 adults and 2 children) $19.80

Opening hours and guided tours

The centre is open for inspection from Monday to Friday (except public holidays), with guided tours commencing daily at 9am, 10:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm and 2:30pm.

Tours and bookings (Lyn Smith or Trish Evans; Regional Administration Officers): 02 6958 8200,,


  • Office accommodation, meeting rooms, small library  and three residences
  • A freshwater fish hatchery equipped with temperature controlled holding and spawning tanks, large-scale and highly replicated larval rearing facilities, 40 earthen ponds with screened inlets & outlets.
  • The John Lake Centre with permanent displays of live freshwater fish and an auditorium with seating for 72.
  • A fish room equipped with aquarium facilities for replicated tank experiments on small fish species.
  • A fully-equipped wet lab for laboratory processing, microscopy and sample processing
  • Infrared fish counting technology which can be remotely deployed to count, measure and identify migratory fish
  • World class acoustic imaging technology (DIDSON) which uses sound waves to generate underwater video in turbid conditions.
  • A fully equipped workshop.
  • Machinery shed for the storage of tractors, watercraft and vehicles etc.
  • A fishing clinic pond which is stocked with many recreational species and used to educate children and other members of the community on responsible fishing practices

Research activities based at Narrandera focus on the health of freshwater species, habitats, ecosystems and sustainable fishing practices. NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) fisheries staff based at Narrandera deliver the scientific data which underpins our management initiatives and policy development to maintain and protect the state’s valuable aquatic resources

NSW DPI Fisheries works closely with key partners, including the Murray Darling Basin Authority, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Cotton and Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centres, Local Land Services and other government agencies, and national and international universities.

Benefits of environmental water

NFC researchers collaborate with a number of research partners to measure benefits of environmental flows to fish populations throughout the Murray Darling Basin. Research staff  perform a combination of larval fish surveys, baseline electrofishing sampling and acoustic fish tracking to identify long term benefits of provision of water for fish. Teams are also monitoring zooplankton populations, the major food source for larval fish, to ensure that environmental flows are also providing enough food for very young fish to eat.

Large scale biodiversity surveys

DPI is currently the only organisation who is adequately equipped to perform large scale biodiversity surveys that provide an indication of fish health in NSW. Our research staff at NFC travel long distances each year to all corners of NSW surveying fish communities and use that data to inform whether specific species abundances are improving, declining or unchanged. Data collected from these surveys is used to develop management strategies to help protect fish which is a key action under the Fisheries Management Act (1999).

Genetic research

Genetic technology is increasingly being used to inform the management of native fish species in the Murray-Darling Basin. Previous genetic research has guided restocking activities by ensuring the level of genetic diversity of wild populations is maintained. The decline of many wetland-dependent, small-bodied native species across the Murray-Darling Basin has made it extremely difficult to locate remnant populations so they can be targeted for management. Research staff are now exploring the use of environmental DNA  - the DNA left behind by fish in the water - to more rapidly sample a very large area to identify populations of threatened small-bodied native fish species. This will allow management actions, such as the delivery of environmental water, to be targeted to those areas that support threatened species in times of drought.

Alien species research

Alien species such as common carp, redfin, goldfish, eastern gambusia and oriental weatherloach cause all sorts of problems for native fish. They compete with native fish for habitat, food, spawning sites and some species carry diseases which are deadly for natives. A key component of research at NFC is to study innovative options for pest species control and eradication. Through numerous collaborations staff are currently investigating options which include large-scale removal, biological controls and physical barriers. These projects are ongoing and are greatly helping in the fight to help our native fish recover.

Effectiveness of stocking

Over 90 million fish have been stocked into NSW waters since 2000 to enhance recreational angling opportunities. Research into in the effectiveness of stocking programs is essential to determine if enough fingerlings are being released to ensure the fishery is performing to expectations. NFC staff have been performing detailed work in a number of impoundments and rivers throughout the Murray Darling Basin to determine the overall success of stocking in these waterways.. Researchers also perform annual surveys in Lake Eucumbene and Jindabyne to determine the status of trophy rainbow and brown trout fisheries in those areas. Data generated from this project provides essential information to manage recreational fisheries, and stocking programs as a whole, throughout NSW.

Improving fish passage

The Aquatic Ecosystems research team have recently worked with scientists from state agencies in Victoria and South Australia to demonstrate the effectiveness of fishways. Fishways are channels around or through a migration barrier (often a dam, weir or road crossing) which allow fish to complete important migrations without delay. There are over 10,000 barriers to fish migration in NSW and vital research conducted by NFC is helping to develop options to help mitigate the effects of these barriers.

John Lake

John Lake - an Australian pioneer in research and breeding native inland fish joined NSW State Fisheries in 1949 after graduating from Sydney University. His initial work on trout was widely recognised throughout NSW and he transferred these skills to perform pioneering research on native fish of the Murray-Darling Basin.

In 1962 he was appointed biologist-in-charge at the Inland Fisheries Research Station at Narrandera where he played a significant role in developing the research facilities to breed Murray cod, silver perch, golden perch and catfish, the major inland angling species.

In late 1966 John Lake left the station to take a position as Senior Lecturer in Biology at Sydney University. He became Director of Forestry, Fisheries, Wildlife and National Parks for the Northern Territory in 1971, and later Senior Lecturer in Biology at the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education.

After a distinguished career of applied research, administration and education, John died in 1977.


70 Buckingbong Road
Narrandera NSW 2700

Postal address:

Narrandera Fisheries Centre
PO Box 182
Narrandera NSW 2700

Phone: (02) 6958 8200

International: +61 2 6958 8200

Fax: (02) 6959 2935