Protocols being developed to assess wetland condition are based on assumptions and procedures that cannot be readily applied to one of the most ecologically significant types of wetland in Australia – riverine floodplains. This is a serious omission in wetland assessment as riverine floodplains are extensive, accounting for 5% of the area of New South Wales. However assessing floodplains is undoubtedly a challenge, as floodplains have characteristics that distinguish them from other inland wetlands. Four such characteristics are their large size, their diversity, their complexity and the distance between habitat elements for dependent floodplain fauna. Progress towards a floodplain assessment protocol could accelerate if the following were in place: a conceptual framework with understanding of floodplain functioning, for all types of floodplains; a geomorphic classification of floodplains tailored towards ecological users; capacity and skills to manage floodplains as entities.