Environment

Longest Rivers In Australia

The Murray, Australia's longest river, stretches 1,558 miles from the Australian Alps to the Southern Ocean.

The Murray, Australia’s longest river, stretches 1,558 miles from the Australian Alps to the Southern Ocean. Australia is home to many rivers which have been important to indigenous communities for centuries. The rivers of Australia play economic, social, ecological, and cultural roles in the modern day Australia.

Longest Rivers In Australia

Murray

The river boasts a rich history, as aboriginal groups have relied on it for sustenance. The river also had cultural importance for the aboriginal tribes inhabiting the river’s basin. A typical folk tale among the groups was that of a hunter chasing a Murray cod and carving out the river as a result. The river was discovered by European explorers in 1824 after which it was used for navigation, irrigation, and water supply. The Murray River today is home to dams and locks and weirs to control water quantities during drought or floods and hydroelectric projects. Social and recreational facilities such as the annual canoe race are popular in River Murray. Aquafauna present in the river includes Murray cod, perch, catfish, western carp gudgeon, and trout cod. Other fauna on the river’s basin include turtles, koalas, pelicans, Gray kangaroos, and lizards. The river has been negatively impacted by increased salinity levels, climate change, and over-extraction of water.

Murrumbidgee

Murrumbidgee River, a tributary of the Murray River, flows for 994 miles from the Australian Alps meandering its way to join the Murray River in the riverine plains. Historically, the river provided food and water to the aboriginal people on its banks. In the Wiradjuri language, the river’s name translates to ‘big water.' The river facilitated the settlement of Europeans who used the water for irrigation. The river sustains many tributaries, swamps, and wetlands deemed to be ecologically significant. Navigation was facilitated with the introduction of steamboats and irrigation was further promoted by the construction of dams. In modern day, the river is crucial for the agricultural and tourism sector of the region as well as for hydroelectric power and water extraction. The water is home to populations of Murray cod, Murray Cray, perch, crayfish, trout cod, Mountain galaxies, and Australian smelt. Threats to the river include increased sedimentation, alien fish species, reduced water flow, and physical disturbances.

Bulloo River

Bulloo River is the third largest Australian River, flowing 982 miles from the Grey Range in western Queensland into the Bulloo Lake. The Bulloo River’s floodplain is an important ecological region for waterbirds including ducks, and Australasian shoveler, Australian Reed-warbler and other fauna such as water rat, fox, mouse, bat, red kangaroo, koala, and possum. The river’s basin is widely used for cattle grazing, and part of the basin has been protected in the Idalia National Park. The river often floods during heavy rainfall.

Darling

Darling River is a tributary of the Murray River, and it flows 915 miles from southwest Queensland. The river was discovered by the Europeans in 1815 and subsequently used for navigation purposes. Along the banks, the river's waters are used for small-scale agriculture and grazing. A network of dams and reservoirs has been built to control floods and supply irrigation schemes. Excessive water extraction has however caused the water quantity to decline. Pollution from pesticides and extended periods of droughts has had negative impacts on the flow of the river. The River supports populations of perch, catfish, Murray cod, and Murray hardyhead as well as lizards, frogs, turtles, rats, koala, and possum.

Other Rivers in Australia

The rest of Australia’s rivers are Lachlan (895 mi); Warrego (858 mi); Cooper Creek (808 mi); Georgina (702 mi); Flinders (624 mi), and Diamantina (559 mi). The sustainability of Australia’s rivers are threatened by physical disturbance such as the construction of dams, excessive water extraction, human activities, pollution, and climate change.

RankLongest Rivers in AustraliaLength
1Murray1,558 miles
2Murrumbidgee994 miles
3Bulloo982 miles
4Darling915 miles
5Lachlan895 miles
6Warrego858 miles
7Cooper Creek808 miles
8Georgina702 miles
9Flinders624 miles
10Diamantina559 miles

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