Are river beds public land?

Riverbeds can be a useful form of access where water margin access is not available or not practicably usable.

Many riverbeds are bounded by some form of public land. In these cases, the bed of the river can be presumed to be owned by the Crown. Riverbeds may be publicly owned even when the land adjoining the river is privately owned. Crown ownership of riverbeds was clarified and extended by the Coal Mines Amendment Act 1903, which vested the beds of navigable rivers in the Crown.

In other circumstances, there is a Common Law presumption that the owner of the land adjoining a riverbed has ownership rights extending to the mid-point of the river (the ad medium filum aquae – AMF – rule).

Page last updated: Nov 16, 2018, 3:57 PM