In many coastal catchments of south eastern New South Wales, Australia, changes in river morphology are a response to human impact superimposed on spatial and temporal patterns of variability in precipitation and discharge. Understanding, and preferably quantifying, spatial and temporal patterns of hydrologic variability are essential to understanding natural changes, and to separate these from artificial changes in river systems. Prediction and management of water resources are also dependent upon this understanding. We assess the variability in precipitation and discharge using the wavelet transform which projects the time series of data into a three dimensional surface of frequency, amplitude and time. The analysis reveals that changes across time often reflect changes in individual seasons and may be linked to changes in particular seasonal atmospheric circulation systems. Strong perturbations in the analysis of one catchment are consistent with documented, geomorphically-effective, flooding sequences. The characteristics of the series in the transformed data reveal interesting differences at certain times and scales which may be a reflection of changes in larger scale atmospheric processes.