Queensland is the third most populous and the second largest state in Australia. It is a geographically diverse state, which includes plateaus, low highlands, tropical islands, and dry deserts. Additionally, the Great Dividing Range, which is a large mountain range, extends across the state, running parallel to the South Pacific Ocean. There are four primary categories of rivers in Queensland: rivers that originate from the eastern slopes of the mountain range and flow east; coastal rivers that flow towards the Gulf of Carpentaria; rivers that flow southwest to form the Murray-Darling basin; and rivers that rise in the west and flow southwest, draining into the Lake Eyre basin. Cooper Creek is the longest river in Queensland followed by the Warrego River, Paroo River, and Flinders River, the longest river entirely within the state.
The Four Longest Rivers in Queensland
Cooper Creek is the longest river in Queensland, and the second longest inland river in Australia, after the Murray-Darling river system. It is also sometimes referred to as the Barcoo River, in reference to its chief tributary. The river has a length of approximately 1,300 km (810 mi), starting at the confluence of the Barcoo and Thompson rivers, and flowing to its mouth in Lake Eyre. Much of the river's water is absorbed into the ground or evaporates, and therefore the river only completes its full course during the wet season.
The Warrego River, which has a length of 1,380 km (860 mi), is a seasonal or intermittent river in southwest Queensland. It is a tributary of the Darling River and forms part of the Darling catchment in the Murray–Darling Basin. The river's course begins at the Carnarvon Range in Queensland and ends at the Darling River. The Warrego River has 37 tributaries including the Langlo and Nive rivers. The river has been damned in several areas to provide water for household and industrial use.
The Paroo River consists of a chain of waterholes that connect during wet weather to form a running stream within the Murray–Darling basin in southwest Queensland. The river rises in Mariala National Park in New South Wales and flows south before spreading into the floodplains. In most cases, the river terminates at the floodplains and only reaches the Darling River during the wet season. The length of the river varies depending on the season, but its longest course is 1,210 km (750 mi).
The Flinders River flows for 624 miles, from its source at the Burra Range, which is part of the Great Dividing Range, to its mouth at the Gulf of Carpentaria. While not the longest river that flows through Queensland, it is the longest river located entirely within the state. The river is fed by thirty-six tributaries, including the Corella, Saxby, and Cloncurry rivers. Dams along the Corella and Flinders rivers provide water for thousands of households.
Water Issues in Queensland
Despite its many rivers, Queensland experiences recurrent water shortages, especially in urban areas. These shortages are attributed to hot, dry summers that increase the rate of evaporation. Additionally, most of the state's rivers are seasonal in nature. The construction of dams provides a short term solution, but also leads to a loss of water through evaporation. Although pollution has not yet reached a critical point in Australia, there is a significant rise in the level of toxic waste being dumped into its rivers.