Murray River Tributaries

Murray Darling Basin Waterways

Murray River Tributaries - The Murray Darling Basin river system consists of several main tributaries with the Upper Murray waterways being sourced from Australia's Alpine Region (The Upper Murray River, Mitta Mitta River, Kiewa River, Goulburn River, Ovens River, and the Broken River), while a second group flows north from the Great Dividing Range in central/southern Victoria (Campaspe River, Loddon River, and Avoca River) while, to the north of the Murray River, the Murrumbidgee River flows from the ACT to join the Murray River southwest of Balranald.

A map of the Murray-Darling Basin highlighting the two main waterways of south east Australia, the Murray and Darling rivers.
A map of the Murray-Darling Basin highlighting the two main waterways of south east Australia, the Murray and Darling rivers.

Murray River Basin

Being Australia's longest river at 2,508 km, and part of the Murray-Darling Basin which includes over 77,000 kilometres of waterways encompassing an area of 1,062,025 km2 (almost 15% of the total area of Australia), the river can be viewed in three sections: the Upper Murray, the Central Murray, and the Lower Murray.

The Upper Murray River:

The Upper Murray River Tributaries and River Catchment.

The upper River Murray catchment stretches from the Hume Dam (near Albury) to the river's source near Mount Kosciuszko (a location known as the Pilot) covering a distance of about 300 km.

Located in New South Wales and Victoria, the catchment covers about 2% of the area of the Basin but provides about 17% of the water.

The Upper Murray catchment is mostly a pristine forest with much of it protected as National Parks and State Forests.

  • Catchment area: 2% of the Murray–Darling Basin
  • Contribution to Basin water: 17%
  • Annual streamflow: 2,550 GL per year (Hume Dam unregulated inflow)
  • River length: 300 km source to Hume Dam
  • Major tributaries:
    • Victoria: Kiewa River, Mitta Mitta River, Koetong Creek, Cudgewa Creek, Corryong Creek, Thowgla Creek
    • NSW: Geehi River, Swampy Plains River, Tooma River, Tumbarumba Creek
  • Major Towns: 
    • Corryong
    • Khancoban
    • Tumbarumba
  • Major Water Storage: 
    • Hume Dam (3,005 GL),
    • Khancoban Pondage (26 GL)
    • Geehi Reservoir (21 GL)
    • Tooma Reservoir (26 GL)

The Central Murray River

Murray View Murray River Mathoura NSW Australia 57

From the upstream point of the Hume Dam (about 10 km from Albury), the central Murray section covers about 1,000 km to where the Murray River meets the Darling River (The Murray-Darling Confluence) at Wentworth.

The catchment of the central Murray River covers both sides of the New South Wales and Victorian borders, but while it only accounts for around 3% of the total Murray Darling Basin, it provides over 50% of the inflow of the basin.

Along the central sections, which takes in towns like Corowa, Yarrawonga, Tocumwal, Echuca/Moama, Swan Hill, and Mildura, the Murray River is wide and flowing strongly through predominantly riverine plain on both sides of the river.

The river also flows through the Barmah–Millewa Forest, the largest stand of River Red Gum in the world; it natural wonderment is nationally and internationally recognised.

  • Catchment area: 3% of the Murray–Darling Basin
  • Contribution to Basin water: -
  • Annual streamflow: -
  • River length: 1,200 km Hume Dam to Wentworth
  • Major tributaries:
    • Victoria: Ovens River, Goulburn River, Campaspe River, Loddon River, Wakool River, Broken Creek
    • NSW: Murrumbidgee River
  • Major Towns: 
    • Albury-Wodonga
    • Yarrawonga
    • Echuca–Moama
    • Deniliquin
    • Swan Hill
    • Mildura
    • Wentworth
  • Major water Storage: 
    • Yarrawonga Weir (118 GL)
    • Torrumbarry Weir (37 GL)
    • Mid-Murray Storage (58 GL)
    • Mildura Weir (37 GL)

The Lower Murray River

Cadell Crossing Murray River Cadell NSW Australia 60

Stretching its way to Lake Alexandrina and the Coorong, the Murray River continues its journey west before turning south at Morgan, through the semi-arid landscape of the lower Murray River catchment.

Due to the semi-arid nature of this section of the catchment, little is contributed to the flow of the water from the surrounding catchment, but it is probably some of the most spectacular scenery the river flows through with the sandstone cliffs synonymous with the region.

The lower Murray River catchment is sparsely populated except for some wonderful medium-sized towns which form the hubs for diverse horticultural enterprises which complement dry-land agriculture within the region. Tourism based around the river environment and water activities is also important to the regional economy.

  • Catchment area: 9% of the Murray-Darling Basin
  • Contribution to Basin water: -
  • Annual streamflow: -
  • River length: 1,000 km Wentworth - Southern Ocean
  • Major tributaries:
    • South Australia: Chowilla Creek, Pike River, Katarapko Creek, Marne River, Saunders Creek, Bremer River, Finnis River
    • NSW: Darling River, Great Darling Anabranch, Rufus River
  • Major Towns: 
    • Renmark
    • Waikerie
    • Murray Bridge
  • Major Water Storage: 
    • Lake Victoria (677 GL)

Darling River Catchment

The river system of the Darling consists of over ten tributaries, with the Upper Darling River (Barwon-Darling) being a complex waterway made up of many individually named waterways. The Barwon-Darling covers about 13% of the Murray-Darling Basin but only accounts for about 2.8% of the flow in the Basin. However, much more water flows through the system, with 99% of its flow generated via the upstream catchments.

A map of the Darling River Tributaries and all the waterways that flow into the Darling River, Australia
A map of the Darling River Tributaries and all the waterways that flow into the Darling River, Australia

For more information on the Darling River catchment, please refer to the Darling River tributaries section