History

Wiradjuri

The City of Wagga Wagga is situated in the heart of southern Wiradjuri Country, the largest of all nations in New South Wales.  Research indicates that the Wiradjuri People have been present in the region for 120,000 years (Wiradjuri Heritage Study 2002).  

Water was central to the Wiradjuri way of life including the floodplains, creeks, billabongs and the Murrumbidgee River (Marrambidya).  Therefore the site on which the Marrambidya Wetland is now situated would have been of great importance to the local Wiradjuri People.

Phragmites australis is an aquatic plant that was used extensively by the Wiradjuri People.  This versatile plant could be woven to create fishing nets and baskets, as a food source in its own right, crafted into spears, making fire, knives and necklaces.  Phragmites australis grows at the Marrambidya Wetland and will be harvested for cultural activities.

The River Red Gums (yarra) that line the Murrumbidgee River also provide habitat for the the Witjuti grub (moth larvae) amongst its bark which was another food collected by the Wiradjuri People.  The bark of the the River Red Gum was also used as a medicine.  Other parts of these magnificent trees were used to craft canoes, containers and clubs.

The floral emblem of Wagga, the Silver Bankisa, was also significant to Wiradjuri People.  It's nectar was used to create a drink and the dry cone was used to carry fire.

The bush tucker garden at the Marrambiya Wetland contains plants species that were used by the Aboriginal people for food, tools and medicine.

Narrung Street Sewage Treatment Works

The Narrung Sewage Treatment Works was commissioned in 1914 as a simple septic tank to service the town.  By 1953, extensive works were required to upgrade the facility to keep up with the demand of the growing City of Wagga Wagga. 

In the late 1960's the tertiary ponds that now form the Marrambidya Wetlands were extensively remodeled to polish the final discharge before entering the Murrumbidgee River.

Major improvements in aeration times of wastewater after an upgrade to the Narrung Street Sewage Treatment Plant in 2010 resulted in the tertiary ponds no longer being required.

As a result the tertiary ponds, known sludge lagoons, becoming redundant there was a need to decommission them to meet EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) Licence requirements.  The preferred option was the development of a wetland in this location.  Examples of similar wetlands are found at Wonga Wetlands at Albury, Fivebough Swamp at Leeton and Gum Swamp at Forbes.

Conversion of the Treatment Ponds

In 2011, Wagga Wagga City Council secured funding from the NSW Environmental Trust to develop a master plan for the construction of a wetland at the disused ponds of the Narrung Street Sewerage Treatment Works.  

The design was adopted by the Councillors at the July 2015 Council meeting. The meeting also endorsed that the project was to proceed and allocated $737,289 of funding towards completing the wetland.  Of this $200,000 was contributed by Riverina Local Land Services.  An additional $90,000 was contributed from Origin Energy.

In addition to the involvement of Council staff, many organisations have contributed to the success of the Marrambidya Wetland.  These include:

  • The NSW Environmental Trust
  • Riverina Local Land Services
  • The Federal Government's Green Army initiative
  • Origin Energy
  • Local Aboriginal Lands Council
  • Wagga Wagga Urban Landcare

Key local stakeholders were engaged to ensure the Marrambidya Wetland would grow into a valuable cultural, environmental and educational site.  In July 2015 the Marrambidya Wetland Activities Group was established to allow for representation and involvement in the project from various groups within the City of Wagga Wagga.  

Marrambidya Wetland Advisory Group which has representation from:

  • Charles Sturt University
  • Local Aboriginal Land Council
  • Marra Marra
  • Mawang Gaway
  • Riverina Institute of TAFE
  • The Riverina Environmental Education Centre
  • Wagga Wagga City Council
  • Wagga Wagga Urban Landcare
Future

It is dreamed that the Marrambidya Wetland will once again be a special place for both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples as they connect to the land.  The site should be seen as an opportunity to engage with and learn about our natural environment, and also a space that we can use to reflect upon our own individual connection to country from wherever we reign.

DateActivity
120,000 years before presentThe Wiradjuri People start to settle in the region.
1829Early colonists first sighted the land on which the flourishing City of Wagga Wagga now stands.
1849Wagga Wagga is proclaimed a town.
1914The Narrung Street Sewage Treatment Works were commissioned and serviced the City of Wagga Wagga.
1946Wagga Wagga is proclaimed a city.
2010The Narrung Street Sewage Treatment Works is upgraded under the Sewer2010 project allowing the decommissioning of the sewage treatment ponds.
2011-2012Wagga Wagga City Council receives $100,000 in grant funding from the NSW Environmental Trust to undertake project design, planning and community for the proposed redevelopment of the Narrung Street Sewerage Treatment Ponds
June 2012Upgrade of Narrung Street Sewage Treatment works completed with the installation of a Sequential Batch Reactor, rendering the treatment ponds redundant. 
February - March 2013Plans for the Narrung Street Wetland redevelopment go on public exhibition.
April 2015Construction starts on the Narrung Street Sewerage Treatment Ponds
July 2015Wagga Wagga City Council endorses the naming of the wetland as 'Marrambidya Wetland' and submits an application the NSW Geographical Naming Board
July 2015Marrambidya Wetlands Activity Group is formed with representation from Charles Sturt University, The Riverina Environmental Education Centre, Riverina Institute of TAFE, Local Aboriginal Land Council, Wagga Wagga Urban Landcare, Marra Marra, Mawang Gaway and Wagga Wagga City Council
13 February 2016

The Healing Place is officially opened to the community on the 8th anniversary of Apology Day.

June 2016The Marrambidya Wetland is officially opened with an official ceremony on Friday 3 June.  A community celebration event was held at the wetland on Sunday 19 June.