Angler Access

In inland NSW, there are over 200,000 locations where rivers, streams and lakes can be legally accessed for fishing. It is estimated that only 1 in 4 public access sites that lead to waterways are actively used by anglers. The job of identifying these fishing spots and securing them for current and future generations represents an enormous but vital task that not only benefits anglers but also regional businesses that that rely on anglers visiting regional areas.

The NSW Angler Access Project with supporting funding from the Recreational Freshwater Fishing Trust has employed 2 staff to assist in identifying and protecting essential access locations in perpetuity for generations of anglers to come.

As part of this project Access staff have developed an online map showing where some of the states Public Fishing spots are located. While new sites are being loaded on a weekly basis, they are based on the vast network of the NSW Public land system. These spots are managed by a variety of organisations such as local councils, LLS and other government departments.

Map of Public Fishing Spots

Information on this map is put together through spatial analysis and in many cases, sites have been field verified by DPI Staff. The sites shown are a starting point for an angler’s adventure and offer anglers basic information. All data is presented with the interest of the broader community in mind. Access sites are added almost weekly and will increase over time as they are assessed and verified.   We ask that anglers respect landholder rights and look after these sites for future generations.

Click on individual site markers for Angler access information. See how to operate map here.

Disclaimer: This map may provide assistance or information on where to fish but the NSW DPI and its employees do not guarantee the information or site conditions is without flaw or is wholly appropriate for any particular purpose and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequences which may arise from relying on any information provided.

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Anglers Right to fish in NSW (Freshwater)

In its simplest form NSW legislation has given anglers the right to be within any bed of a river or stream for the purposes of fishing.

The NSW fishery is managed under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (the act) and its associated regulation. With sustainability in mind, key objectives under the act, are to promote quality recreational fishing opportunities, to appropriately share fisheries resources between the users of those resources and to provide social and economic benefits for the wider community of New South Wales.

The act states that the public has no common law right to fish in non-tidal waters, However, the public may fish in non-tidal waters if the soil under those waters is Crown land. That is land vested in the crown excluding dedicated or previously lawfully sold by the Crown. This raises the issue of accessing those lands that are held under private ownership for the purpose of fishing. The act, in keeping in line with its objectives provides anglers the right to fish within the bed of a river of stream.

Under section 38 it declares that the public has a right to fish despite the private ownership of the bed of the river or creek. The right to fish in tidal or non-tidal waters is subject to any restriction imposed by the Fisheries Management Act 1994 ire fishing rules. Section 38 allows anglers to be within the bed of a river or stream. In many areas this allows anglers to wade through whole river reaches quite easily. In some case’s the bed of a river may be freehold title however access to these areas for anglers is irrespective of ownership of the riverbed. Please note that section 38 does not apply to some lakes. In addition to this many section of a waterway may be Crown land. In some cases, this crown land extends well beyond the bed of a river. These areas of crown land are usually ill defined and often unrecognisable. To find these areas of crown land please contact your nearest NSW Local Crown lands office.

Section 38 FISHERIES MANAGEMENT ACT 1994 – SECT 38

sect. 38 Right to fish in certain inland waters

  1. A person may take fish from waters in a river or creek that are not subject to tidal influence despite the fact that the bed of those waters is not Crown land if, for the purpose of taking those fish, the person is in a boat on those waters or is on the bed of the river or creek.
  2. The right conferred by this section is subject to the other provisions of this Act.
  3. In this section, “bed” of a river or creek includes any part of the bed of the river or creek which is alternatively covered and left bare    with an increase or decrease in the supply of water (other than during floods).

Note: At common law, the public has a right to fish in the sea, the arms of the sea and in the tidal reaches of all rivers and estuaries. The public has no common law right to fish in non-tidal waters-the right to fish in those waters belongs to the owner of the soil under those waters. However, the public may fish in non-tidal waters if the soil under those waters is Crown land. In the case of non-tidal waters in rivers and creeks, section 38 declares that the public has a right to fish despite the private ownership of the bed of the river or creek. However, the right to fish in tidal or non-tidal waters is subject to any restriction imposed by this Act.

The use of canoes, boats and larger watercraft to access waterways is managed by Roads Maritime Services (RMS) under the Marine Safety Act 1998 and associated regulation. The act of fishing from vessels is managed by Fisheries NSW. Under the Marine Safety act vessels can be used on waters deemed to be navigable waters in accordance with that legislation and associated regulation. In many cases this allows anglers to use watercraft to access publicly accessible Lakes and impoundments across the state unless they have been restricted for use by the RMS. Fisheries NSW does not administer the Marine Safety Act 1998 and advice should be gained on the use, safety and regulation of vessels on particular waters by contacting the RMS.

Section 38 allows anglers to be within the bed of a river or stream. In many areas this allows anglers to wade through whole river reaches quite easily. In some cases the bed of a river may be freehold title however access to these areas for anglers is irrespective of ownership of the river bed . Please note that section 38 does not apply to lakes. In addition to this, many sections of a waterway may be Crown land. In some cases this crown land extends well beyond the bed of a river. These areas of crown land are usually ill defined and often unrecognisable. To find these areas of crown land please contact the nearest NSW Local Crown lands office.

While section 38 offers anglers the right of access for the purpose of fishing, argument often arises with the physical definition of the bed of river. Section 38 of the act clearly states that the bed is that any section which is covered and left bare with the increase of flows other than at times of flood. The definition of where this point is located on a river is often subject to scrutiny. Clearly it is the intent of the legislation to allow access for fishing in some manner other than at times of flood. The Department considers the bed of the river to be that area which is below but within river channel flood level generally this is at the top of each bank and does not extend to areas when the river shifts beyond this point i.e. at times of flood. This area includes most areas of beach or gravel bars or areas considered a waterway defined under the Crown Land Management Act 2016.

Fishing NSW Border Rivers

NSW fishing access rules and fishing regulations apply to all waters within the state. Often anglers are unsure of where these rules apply in relation to our border waterways. Land based access to NSW waters via other states is generally managed by that state. Fisheries NSW works with other state agencies to ensure that access to NSW waterways through other states is maintained where possible.

The specific guidelines (PDF, 3.22 MB) outline the location of the NSW /Victorian border, the NSW Border is generally considered to be the top of the southern bank of the Murray River. The Murray River starts at a point known as the Indi Springs near Cowombat flat and extends West to the South Australian border the location of this border was scrutinized in several court judgments, in particular, Ward v The Queen (1980). Guidelines for interpreting the border are set out by the surveyor generals for Victoria and NSW. The determination can be viewed here.  As a general principal, the NSW Border extends to the top of the Southern bank of the Murray River as seen in the below figure. This Southernmost section of NSW land generally includes vast areas of river beaches which are almost all considered to be NSW land. In lieu of a formal agreement between states some of this land is generally licensed to be under the care and control of Victoria for day to day management. However, as determined in the Ward case only legislation relating to the jurisdictional boundaries of NSW can apply to these lands. In most cases, this land is managed by the NSW Government.

Find out information about the fishing rules and regulations of Lake Hume and Lake Mulwala.

Murray River Bank guidelines

Lake Hume and Lake Mulwala

Under previous management anglers had to identify an imaginary line in the middle of both lakes with differing licences and regulations on either side of the border. For some time, anglers raised concerns about the need for two fishing licences to comply with different laws on different sides of the lakes. At the time Lakes Hume and Mulwala were the only major dams in Australia that had been managed under the fishing laws of two states. Mulwala is considered the premier Murray cod fishery in Australia and Hume has a mix of Trout, Redfin, golden perch and Murray cod. The same seasonal closures and bag, size and gear regulations now apply for the entirety of each of the Lakes. Both NSW and Victoria will continue to use licence fees to enhance recreational fishing through stocking programs, access, habitat improvement, recreational research and compliance. The agreement is the result of an extensive consultation process with recreational fishing stakeholders and is managed by a joint State working group. The NSW and Victorian State Governments will continue to work together, and with the community, to protect and conserve the values of Lakes Hume and Mulwala.

A Victorian Fishing Licence is required to fish all waters within Lake Hume. These waters include from the Lake Hume Weir wall upstream to the Seven Mile Creek Junction near Talmalmo.

Map showing the location of Lake Hume

An NSW Fishing Licence is required to fish all waters within Lake Mulwala. These waters include from all parts of Lake Mulwala from Yarrawonga Weir wall upstream to the point where the Ovens River enters the Murray River at Bundalong boat ramp.

Map showing the location of Lake Mulwala

The Border between NSW and Queensland was determined over a period of years and is described in the guidelines are set out by the surveyor generals for Queensland and NSW. The determination can be viewed online . The guidelines for defining the borders location are set out in three sections which relate to the 29th parallel, the River section and a Watershed section.

The 29th parallel

In this section the boundary between NSW and QLD extends from the NSW, QLD and SA border Marker at Cameron Corner and extends on the 29th Parallel to a 1-ton Marker on the banks of the Barwon River just south of Mungindi. NSW and QLD have undergone a program to re-establish original markers for the border however in some areas these are non-existent. This section of the border crosses vast floodplain and many rivers where the border is undefined. Anglers who wish to fish close to the border are encouraged to contact the QLD dep’t of Natural resources or NSW LPMA and verify the borders location if unsure before fishing.

River Section

The boundary between the States along the river section is the middle (median) thread which is defined as halfway between the banks of the river.  For the purpose of defining the middle thread, the ‘riverbank’ has been defined under the NSW Crown Land Management Act 2016 as the limit of the bed of a lake or river. (a) which is alternately covered and left bare with an increase or diminution in the supply of water, and (b) which is adequate to contain the lake or river at its average or mean stage without reference to extraordinary freshets in time of flood or to extreme droughts. Please note that this definition is for non-tidal waters only.  The median line extends through the Dumaresq, Macintyre and Barwon rivers to the junction of the Severn River (QLD) and is considered a natural boundary. If fishing on the southern side of the median line an NSW fishing license is required, and NSW jurisdiction applies.

Watershed Section

In this section it was the original intention that the top of the watershed from the Dumaresq River to Point Danger is considered to be the border.   This border is sometimes hard to define however for the purposes of angler access and NSW jurisdiction it is considered to be those waters to the south of the watershed. These rivers include but are not limited to Clarence River, Fawcett’s Creek, Hoffman’s Creek, Jacksons (north arm) Creek, Maryland river, Middle arm Tweed River, Terania Creek, Tooloom Creek, Tweed River, Tyalgum Creek, Wylie Creek and Wilsons River.  Particular attention is drawn to NSW tidal waters in the North Tweed area. These waters include but are not limited to the entire Tweed Estuary, Bilambil Creek, Cobaki Canal, Lakes & Broadwater, Jack Evans Harbour, Terranora Creek & Broadwater, Endless Summer Canal, Crystal waters Canal, and from Point Danger to North Head.

NSW and the ACT Border

The ACT border with NSW is very complex and there is a multitude of rivers and streams that are crossed by the border itself. There are 3 sections to the border and their actual location is difficult to describe. In some areas there are well placed markers identifying the border or key points throughout its length. Details of the field books showing the border in detail can be found here.

Mouat Line

This section starts on the western side of the ACT at a point known as Mt. Coree marked by a Trig station. The Mouat line heads south passing through Mt. Franklin, Mt Bimberi and Mt. Kelly. NSW waters are to the west of this line.

Johnston Line

This section extends from the southern most point of the Mouat line and extends along the natural watershed through wrights Hill and Mt. Clear in a south easterly then northern direction where it joins the Scehffe line. NSW waters are to the south, west and east of this line.

Sheaffe Line

The Sheaffe line heads in a northern direction from the Johnston line and crosses the Murrumbidgee at Angler point. The border then heads in a North easterly direction and just to the east on the Monaro hwy for part of its length. The Border then passes to the north of Queanbeyan and crosses the Queanbeyan River approximately 25 m downstream of the railway bridge. From this point, the border follows the southern side of the Molonglo River where it crosses the river downstream of the Molonglo River Railway crossing.  The border then follows the natural waterline to the north to the One Tree Hill trig station. From this point the border heads in a South Westerly direction to the Mt. Coree Trig station.  NSW waters are to the south, east and North of this line.

Public land Types

NSW Crown Land

Crown land in NSW is managed by the Land and Property (LPMA) under the Crown lands Act 1989. This land definitions can vary as with use however this land can be reserves, crown roads, submerged lands etc. Crown land can be managed under the care and control of Local Government, trusts, community groups, other government departments etc. Crown land is generally managed for the benefit of the people of NSW, in most cases, crown land offers a legal means of access to waterways. Crown land comprises approximately half of all land in New South Wales. Some of this land is allocated to public uses such as national parks, state forests, schools, hospitals, sporting, camping and recreation areas, as well as lands which are managed and protected for their environmental importance. This leaves other significant portions of Crown land that can be used in several ways, including leasing for commercial or agricultural purposes, through to land development and sale.

NSW Lands Division is responsible for the sustainable and commercial management of Crown land. The NSW Lands manages the land for multiple purposes with sustainable recreation seen a key use of the land. CLD administers an area of approximately 36 million hectares of Crown land (this includes the 3 nautical mile zone and Western Crown land). It is responsible for the professional management of some 72,600 licenses and permits state-wide, along with 14,800 leases. CLD also manages the development, marketing and sales of Crown lands not required for public purposes. Various land uses are authorised by CLD including waterfront occupations; commercial; grazing and agriculture; residential; sporting; community purposes; tourism; and industrial. It manages these Crown lands through a variety of methods such as licensing, leasing, sale and disposal of surplus Crown and other State-owned lands. We also provide land information/status and land accounts services as well as a map and products sale centre.

The Crown reserve system is NSW’s oldest and most diverse system of natural, cultural and open space, providing many of the state’s town squares and local parks, state heritage sites, buildings, community halls, nature reserves, coastal lands, waterway corridors, sport grounds, racetracks, showgrounds, caravan parks, camping areas, traveling stock routes(reserves) , rest areas, walking tracks, commons, community and government infrastructure and facilities. Crown reserves are responsibly managed so that natural resources such as water, flora and fauna and scenic beauty are conserved, while still encouraging public use and enjoyment of the land. Crown reserves are generally managed by either reserve trust boards, CLD, local councils or State government departments. More than 6000 volunteers help to care for Crown reserves as members of community trust boards.

Tenured land is Crown land that is directly leased, licensed or allowed to be used under an enclosure permit by the State for a wide range of public, private and community uses, including commercial or agricultural purposes. Land leased or licensed may have exclusive occupancy however most licensed land allows for access to the public depending on the conditions license. In cases where land is licensed, anglers are reminded to leave gates as you find them and do not approach stock or tamper with infrastructure.

Submerged Land

Submerged land is generally classified as a type of Crown land. Bordering the coast of New South Wales (NSW), it lies below the mean high-water mark. Submerged land includes most coastal estuaries, many large & minor riverbeds, many wetlands and the State’s territorial waters, which extend 3 nautical miles (5.5 km) out to sea. Submerged Crown lands of the coastal estuaries and riverbeds are generally Crown lands reserved from sale and lease. These lands may be leased (subject to reserve revocation) or licensed under the Crown Lands Act 1989; leased and/or licensed for aquaculture and fishing purposes by NSW Fisheries; or licensed by the NSW Maritime.

Travelling Stock Reserves (TSR’s) are areas of Crown land that have been reserved under legislation for primary use of travelling stock.  TSRs are managed under trust by the Local Land Services.  The Local Land Services are responsible for the administration of the Local Land Services Act 2013. Under this act, Fishing is declared a prescribed and authorised activity on reserves in the eastern division.

There are over 6,500 TSRs throughout NSW, covering an area of approximately 740,000 hectares with many reserves are located adjacent to waterways.

TSR’s are also used for certain recreation, apiary sites and for conservation purposes.  Local Land Services (LLS) manage these reserves in a manner that balances the needs of the public, conservation and travelling or grazing stock.

To ensure that TSR’s are managed in a sustainable manner, there are various rules for their use.  While recreational fishing is a prescribed activity on a TSR there are still limitations on overall use of a reserve. These include but are not limited to;

  • No camping without a permit
  • No recreational use sunset to sunrise
  • No garbage is to be deposited on a TSR.
  • Certain pets may be excluded.
  • All gates must be left as they are found (NB: Some LLS boards prefer all front gates to be left closed)
  • NOTE: Fishing from a TSR in the western division is an offence (Prohibited/illegal) under the Local Land Services Act 2013

Almost 44% of NSW falls within the Western Division, a vast and sparsely populated region covering more than 32 million hectares in the west of our state. The eastern boundary of the Western Division runs from Mungindi on the Queensland border to the Murray River near Balranald. The Barwon Darling river system, part of the fourth longest river system in the world, acts as the region’s arterial lifeblood as its waters flow from Queensland through the centre of the Western Division to the Murray River in the south.

Nearly all the land in the Western Division is held under Western Lands Leases, originally granted under the Western Lands Act 1901. The primary purpose of the Act is to ensure appropriate land administration and land management in this fragile environment. This act was recently superseded by Crown Land Management act 2016.

All of the Crown estate in the Western Division is administered and managed by the Crown Lands Division of NSW Department of Industry. The Crown Lands division plays a vital role in the life of the Western Division, working cooperatively with the community and local government in administering leases and other Crown lands and ensuring sustainable land management activities and programs are implemented and opportunities for regional development on Crown land are maximized.

Unlike the eastern division, access in the western division, given its tenure is almost non-existent in comparison with access to waterways limited to a handful of public road reserves, public reserves and town commons. Fishing from a TSR in the western division is prohibited which also limits access.

Council community land is land generally owned and occupied by local councils. This land is set aside for community use and needs and may provide access for anglers and other users. Community land differs from operational council land where operational land may have restrictions placed over it for a particular use i.e. water treatment, A local council can limit public access to operational land but not where angler rights under sec 38 would be infringed upon.

State Forests

The Forestry Corporation of NSW is the largest manager of commercial native and plantation forests in NSW. Aside from managing more than two million hectares of forests for the economic and environmental benefit, the forests are also managed for the social benefit of the people of NSW and Australia.

While the Forestry Corporation focuses on its core business of growing and harvesting timber to meet the community’s needs for hardwood and softwood products. They also offer vast areas of access and amenity to increase fishing and other recreational opportunities.

  • When driving, keep to the formed public access roads and don’t bush bash.
  • Dogs are permissible but must be under your control.
  • Road rules and vehicle registration requirements still apply on roads and fire trails on public land – vehicles must be registered, drivers/motorcycle riders must be licensed and safety equipment required by law must be worn.
  • Solid Fuel Fire Bans apply in many State forests over summer, banning campfires and barbecues using wood, charcoal or other solid fuel.
  • If an area is used for hunting, recreational users are permitted to visit public lands declared and open for hunting, unless a forest has been closed.
  • Entry to State forests is free. Some national parks, nature reserves, state conservation areas and historic sites charge entry fees.
  • Organised activities in State forests may require a Special Purpose Permit.

For more information contact the Forestry Corporation Information Centre (Phone: 1300 655 687 or 02 9871 3377) or local Forestry Corporation Regional office. Forest closure may be in place at times, click here to see the current closures.

National Park Estate

NSW National Parks Estate is in all essence Crown Land that is managed and reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The reservations are largely to ensure that these landscapes are managed and protected while any recreation is managed in a sustainable manner.  Reserves that are part of the estate offer anglers a legal means of access to waterways within and adjoining the park estate. This legal access can be by foot, vehicle or other means as specified in the management plans for the reserves.

Across NSW NPWS estate offers countless fishing opportunities for a range of angler types. NPWS is working with NSW Fisheries to enhance and promote fishing opportunities where possible.

Anglers are often confused as to their rights to fish within NPWS reservations however anglers can fish by any legal means within all NSW parks estate as the activity of fishing within these areas is managed by Fisheries NSW who administer the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (FMA94) and associated regulation. The NSW fishery includes all areas within the National Parks estate so anglers can use the prescribed methods to take fish from waters within these areas. This is reinforced under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, section 44, where it states that “nothing under that act affects the operation of the FMA94″.

With a high level of management for sustainable and conservation reasons, NPWS estate is managed with many conditions to protect the reserves. Please familiarize yourself with any conditions of entry by contacting NPWS before park entry.

On 1 July 2010, the NSW government converted 100,000 ha of many of the red gum state forests in the Riverina to National parks and reserves. At the time anglers are often confused as to where the boundaries are located in respect to those waterways adjoining these reserves. Most if not all beds of rivers (including beaches) up to the high-water mark were excluded from the park reservation. The Red Gum Forests sit within many floodplains and are often closed for use due to flooding. Its recommended that you check park closures prior to traveling to a park here.

Victorian Border Parks and Reserves

In many parts of Victoria there is a section of land that that follows the Murray River that is part of the Victorian public reserves system. This land extends almost the entire length of the Murray River and offers some excellent shore-based fishing access in many sections. This land generally starts at the NSW border and extends into Victoria up to several hundred meters in some cases. For more information on use and location of this land contact DSE ph.: 136 186

An NSW Fishing license is still required to fish the Murray River as it is NSW Waters.  Victorian and NSW fisheries officers have reciprocal powers to implement fishing regulation in either state.

For more information on Angler Access email angler.access@dpi.nsw.gov.au. or Call (02) 6051 7769.