This shrub to medium-sized tree has creamy-grey bark and alternate, leathery leaves, 5‒8 cm long, tapering equally at both ends (elliptic). Leaves tend to be crowded towards the ends of the branchlets. Young shoots are silky-hairy and the new foliage is reddish. The lower surface of the leaf is much paler than the dark green upper surface; the short leaf stalk is purplish, as are the young branchlets.
Clusters of yellow, five-petalled flowers occur in summer in the forks of the leaves. The dry, oval capsule encloses small winged seeds, released when ripened from autumn to winter.
Water Gum is not common in rainforest with a dense canopy, being more common in open areas, particularly near the escarpment
Bega area, NSW to McPherson Range, QLD