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River Murray education

Learning about the River Murray

The Murray-Darling Basin is one of Australia’s most precious resources, providing water for four different states. It’s also one of the world’s driest major river basins.

The Murray-Darling Basin incorporates two major rivers, the Darling and the Murray. The River Murray starts in the Snowy Mountains and winds through New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, ending at the Murray Mouth near Goolwa, where it flows out to the sea. The length of the River Murray is 2,530 km.

Learn more about the Murray-Darling Basin

The water cycle in the Murray-Darling Basin

How much water?

When we talk about the river, you'll often see terms like megalitre (ML) and gigalitre (GL). But just how much water is that? Here's a handy comparison, thanks to the NSW Irrigator's Council:

1 Megalitre (ML) = One million litres of water
Approximately 40 per cent of an Olympic size pool. If an Olympic pool is 50m x 25m x 2m = 2500 cubic meters, one cubic meter is one thousand litres (one kilolitre). Therefore it would take 2.5 megalitres to fill an Olympic swimming pool. One megalitre is enough water to cover 1 hectare (100m x 100m) to a depth of 10cm
1 Gigalitre (GL) = One thousand million litres of water (one billion)
(approx. 400 Olympic size pools)
Port Jackson, containing Sydney Harbour, is a drowned river valley and is considered a natural harbour. It is 19 km long with an area of 55 km². One Sydney Harbour is approximately 500 gigalitres or 200,000 Olympic size pools.

Aboriginal history

The lands and waters of the River Murray, or Murrundi, are central to the culture and beliefs of their Traditional Owners, who have occupied, enjoyed, utilised and managed these areas since the Creation.

The Ngarrindjeri are the Traditional Owners of the Lower Lakes, Murray Mouth and Coorong and along the River Murray as far north as Mannum. The First Peoples of the River Murray and Mallee Region are the Traditional Owners of the River Murray area from the Victorian border to Morgan.

Flow - Life Giving Lands and Waters

We are Water People

History of the river

The river has changed a lot in the last 100 years, due to changes in the environment, more people needing water from the river and how we manage it.

A brief history of water use in the Murray-Darling Basin

From 2001-2010, the Millennium Drought devastated the environment and communities along the river.

Millennium Drought

Improving river health

Since the end of the drought in 2010, there has been plenty of work done to help the river recover, including the agreement on the Basin Plan. We’re starting to see real benefits to communities, industries and the environment. But there’s still a lot to be done.

Balancing the Basin's water