Just as suddenly as they appear, rivers can dry up within days or hours,
often leaving debris deposited across the roads. Some rivers can last longer,
depending on the amount of rain that has fallen in the region, especially if the
rivers are fed by a number of effected tributaries. Such rain fall patterns are
often the result of weather conditions during the big wet up the far north, or
rain clouds blown across from Western Australia and Queensland.
Many of these wet weather conditions are a welcomed change in a region where
rain is infrequent.
Finke River System
One of the largest river systems in Central Australia is the Finke River, also
cited as being ‘the oldest river in the world’, it’s starts in the
MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory.
‘The Finke’ 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
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
The Finke River winds pass
Palm Valley, in fact, those visiting Palm Valley will find that part of the
route is along the
dry river bed of the Finke River. During times of heavy rain in the region,
water also flows through Palm Valley to feed into the Finke River.
Anyone who has visited Alice Springs, will be aware that the town sits on the
Todd River. Like most rivers in Central Australia, the Todd River is a dry river
bed whose origins begin in the MacDonnell Ranges. From there it winds its way
pass the Telegraph Station, almost through the centre of Alice Springs, out
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.1
and the Finke, are typical examples of rivers throughout Central Australia. On
the surface they appear to be dry, although at certain points along the length
of the river you may find the occasional water hole. Places like
Ellery Creek Big Hole and
the Boggy Hole are examples
of waterholes that rarely run dry.
Located within the
Finke Gorge National Park is
the internationally renowned Palm Valley, a narrow gorge that
is home to the Red Cabbage Palm (Livistona mariae),
remnants of a tropical rainforest that covered this area 60 million years ago.
Much of the lush vegetation in the area is fed by groundwater discharging
from the deep sandstone aquifer. The spring water can be seen seeping from small
fractures and bedding planes at a number of places along the valley floor2.
River Red Gums
One of the common trees seen in Central Australia growing along the banks and
even within the river bed are the iconic River Red Gums. To the original
inhabitants, the Indigenous Aboriginals, the presence of healthy River Red Gums,
are one of the indicators of water not far below the river bed. The knowledge of
course is to know where to dig.
Check out some of the following images that show rainfall events in Central Australia: