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Rivers, Lakes and Waterways of Australia

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Rivers, Lakes and Waterways of Australia
Australia has many rivers and tributaries, providing not only the necessary water to many farms and outback stations, but also being the life blood of many towns, wildlife and fauna. With many rivers also feeding the man-made dams, these rivers and waterways are also sources of recreational activities, from fishing, swimming, water skiing, river boat cruises and boat house accommodation, just to name a few.

Australia also have many rivers that appear to be just dry river beds, as found in Central Australia. Whilst some will have permanent waterholes, others are far from dry, as is evident by the magnificent Australian River Red Gum and other trees growing along the river course. These rivers will have water flowing beneath the river bed, with trees sending their roots down deep enough to tap the water. Local Aboriginal people were also skilled at locating spots that were close enough to the surface for them to dig down.

Such rivers are sometimes labelled ‘upside-down rivers’, the Gascoyne River in Western Australia being one example. The Yarra has also been dubbed ‘the river that runs upside down’, but this is in reference to its ‘high turbidity’, which means from the middle reaches, the Yarra carries a lot of suspended silt downstream.

Many of the dry rivers such as the Finke River and the Todd River in Central Australia, are usually dry for many years, although when they do flow, it is usually only for short periods, from hours to a couple of weeks, depending on the amount of rain, and where the water is flowing from.

The following are Australia’s longest rivers:
Name State Approximate Length (km)
Murray NSW/SA 2,520
Murrumbidgee River NSW/ACT 1,575
Darling River (from the Murray River to Culgoa River) NSW 1,390
Lachlan River NSW 1,370

Source: Geoscience Australia: Longest River

Following are the longest rivers in Australia by State/Territory:
State/Territory Name Approximate Length (km)
New South Wales Murray River 1,870
Queensland Flinders River 840
Western Australia Gascoyne River 760
South Australia Murray River 650
Victoria Goulburn River 566
Northern Territory Victoria 560
Tasmania South Esk River 214
Australian Capital Territory Murrumbidgee



Source: Geoscience Australia: Longest River

The longest continuous river system in Australia are:
Name State Approximate Length (km)
Longest Continuous River System:  Murray-Darling River System Queensland / New South Wales / South Australia 3,370
Longest River: Murray New South Wales / South Australia 2,520
Darling (from the Murray River to Culgoa River) New South Wales 1,390
Upper Darling (Barwon and MacIntyre Rivers) New South Wales / Queensland 1,140
Culgoa and Condamine Rivers New South Wales / Queensland 1,350

Source: Geoscience Australia: Longest River

Following are links to some of the rivers, lakes and waterways of Australia.

New South Wales Rivers

Map of NSW Main Rivers
Clyde River
The Clyde River begins its journey 125 km from Batemans Bay in the rugged mountain region to the north. Sometimes merely a trickle in the upper reaches, the Clyde River passes through pristine forest areas and National Parks. As the river nears Batemans Bay it becomes wider and deeper, with the last 35 km being accessible by larger water vessels. The Clyde River can be navigated from Shallow Crossing to the Tollgate Islands at the entrance to Batemans Bay. Batemans Bay is the largest townon the river.
Wonboyn River

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Northern Territory Rivers

Finke River
One of the largest rivers in Central Australia, the Finke River System is also cited as being ‘the oldest river in the world’, with it’s source starting in the MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory. The River starts at the confluence of the Davenport and Ormiston Creeks, just north of popular Glen Helen. It then meanders for some 600 plus kilometres passing through the Finke Gorge National Park and like the Hugh, Palmer and Diamantina rivers all flowing inland, to the western edge of the Simpson Desert in northern part of South Australia and eventually ending up in Lake Eyre.
Todd River
The origins of the Todd River begin in the MacDonnell Ranges, where it flows past the Telegraph Station, almost through the centre of Alice Springs, through Heavitree Gap and continuing on for some distance  before it becomes a tributary of the Hale River, that eventually flows into Lake Eyre in South Australia. On the surface, the Todd River is usually a dry river bed, with the occasional water hole along it's length. The River Red Gum seen growing along the river course, is an indicator of water not far belong the river bed surface.

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Tasmania Rivers

Tamar River
The majestic Tamar River meanders for 58 km through the Tamar Valley region of high-yielding vineyard country, orchards, scenic farmland and forests from Launceston through to Port Dalrymple and the sea of Bass Strait. Fed by the South and North Esk Rivers where they merge at Launceston to become the Tamar River, there are shore access pontoons conveniently located along the riverbanks and offers a great place to cast a line for the variety of saltwater fish. Other smaller rivers and streams also feed into the Tamar River offering opportunities for freshwater fishing.

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Australian Rivers - Other links

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