History of the Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling Basin is defined by the catchment areas of the Murray and Darling Rivers and their many tributaries.

The Basin is located in the south-east of Australia and covers an area of 1.05 million square kilometres or 14% of Australia.

It expanses into four states and the Australian Capital Territory. It covers three quarters of New South Wales, two-thirds of Victoria, 15% of Queensland, 8% of South Australia and the entire Australian Capital Territory.

The Murray-Darling is Australia's longest of river systems and ranked fifteenth in the world.

The Basin contains more than twenty major rivers as well as important groundwater systems.

An important consequence of the extent of the Murray Darling Basin is the great range of climatic conditions and natural environments.

Cool and humid rainforests
Temperate mallee country
Inland sub-tropical areas
Hot, dry semi-arid and arid lands

Two million people live and work within the Basin or depend on it for their water supply. Another one million people living outside the basin are also heavily dependent on its water.

It is a vital resource for Australia's economy, as one-third of Australia's total output for natural resource-based industries, worth approximately $10 billion per year, is produced within the basin.

For a detailed history of the Lower Lakes from Wellington to the Murray Mouth, 1800s to 1935, go to www.rivermurray.sa.gov.au/publications.html


Aboriginal Occupation [click to download pdf]

European Settlers [click to download pdf]


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