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Cowwarr Weir

Recreational facilities temporarily closed

October 2021

Recreational areas at Cowwarr Weir remain closed to the public following recent storms and flood damage. There is still a significant clean-up effort underway with teams and machinery on site clearing debris and securing the area. Visitors can cause potentially hazardous situations with parking, traffic and pedestrians.

Our staff need to concentrate on managing the clean-up operation effectively so we appreciate it if the community can keep clear and keep our operations safe.  We want you to stay safe too.

Great day out

Cowwarr Weir is popular for recreation and non-powered water activities and is an ideal day destination.

It is a pretty area, well patronised for swimming, kayaking, fishing and picnicking, with lots of shady spots by the water.  There are pleasant walks around the reserve and it is popular with bird-watchers.


Cowwarr Weir is located in Gippsland near the township of Cowwarr.

Cowwarr supplies water to the Macalister Irrigation District and levels can vary throughout the year.

Hours of operation

Cowwarr Weir is not open to the public until further notice.

Facilities and what to do

Cowwarr Weir is popular for kayaking, fishing, swimming and picnicking. There are picnic tables and toilets and but please note there are no bbq facilities.

No powered boats are allowed on the weir.  No camping or overnight stays are allowed – including RVs and caravans.

Facilities and activities include:

Icon_Picnic_tables  Icon_parking  Icon_toilets  Icon_Swimming  Icon_Dogs_on_leads  Icon_Non_Powered_Boat  Icon_Fishing

Not permitted

While visiting our facilities you are not permitted to:

  • camp or stay overnight
  • have fires or fire pits
  • leave rubbish - all our sites are carry in carry out zones
  • reserve any picnic areas
  • drive or ride motorbikes along the shoreline or in fenced areas
  • enter prohibited areas
  • vandalise the facilities
  • hunt, carry or discharge a firearm
  • ride or walk horses anywhere, including in the water.
  • use the park or picnic areas outside of opening hours
  • undertake any dangerous activities including
    abseiling, paraflying, shooting and archery.


Request to hold events

From time to time, people wish to hold events at our recreational facilities including festivals, birthday parties and weddings. We cannot close our recreational facilities for private events and you cannot book sites. 

You must have permission to hold any organised entertainment, rally, boating event or regatta, festival, public meeting, training class or demonstration, wedding or similar ceremony, or private functions for 30 or more people.

Please email us with your request in writing.

Cowwar Weir History and Operations

Cowwarr Weir is a concrete gravity structure with three steel vertical lift spillway gates for regulating water supply from the Thomson River to the MID.

During an exceptional flood in 1952, the Thomson River formed a breakaway course through a series of depressions beginning at the point where the river emerges from the foothills on to the river plains. The new course continues east to rejoin the original course near Heyfield. The distance of the new course between the breakaway and rejoining points is much less than that of the former course, while the fall between the two points remains the same.

In 1959 the Cowwarr Weir and diversion channel were constructed at the point where the breakaway course of the Rainbow Creek begins. The weir allows control of water flow along the breakaway and to divert water to the area south of the Thomson River along the Cowwarr Channel to supplement water from Lake Glenmaggie for irrigation in the Nambrok-Denison area.

Cowwarr Weir was built to service the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) in Gippsland.

Thomson River water is diverted via the Cowwarr Weir channel generally at the beginning of the spring months to irrigate the Nambrok-Denison Area. This enables water to be conserved in Lake Glenmaggie for as long as possible, thus maximising the water available to the irrigation district. Under normal conditions during the irrigation season the Cowwarr Weir Pool is maintained at or near the full supply level.


Capacity 387 ML
Surface area 14.1 ha
Full supply level 40.50 m AHD
Full supply level 77.1 m AHD
Catchment area 1,942 km2
Maximum height 5 m
Length 120 m
Crest length 120 m
Discharge capacity 500,000 ML per day

Cowwarr Weir is located on Rainbow Creek, which is a breakaway section of the Thomson River near the Cowwarr township in Gippsland – Melway reference Map 82 C9.

Southern Rural Water acknowledges and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and waters on which we work and live, and we respect their deep and ongoing connection to Country. For more about the First Nations peoples on whose Country we work, click here.