Since European settlement, the upper catchment has remained forested and land disturbance has been minimal.
Gold mining in the 1880s occurred around Deptford. Alluvial methods were used but these were small in scale and contributed only limited amounts of sediment to the river.
Land disturbance has been greater in the lower catchment. By the 1880s, land adjoining the river between the Great Alpine Road to the Princes Highway Bridge had been cleared of native vegetation and used for grazing or cropping.
In the estuarine reach of the river below the Princes Highway Bridge, land disturbance has been limited due to the extensive wetlands on both sides of the river. Most low-lying land close to the river was unsuitable for agriculture or grazing.
Nicholson River upper catchment