Sun setting over the Murray River.

Murray River

South Australia

The mighty Murray River is a principal river of Australia & main stream of the Murray-Darling Basin, and one of the world's longest navigable rivers.

The Murray River (River Murray in South Australia) is Australia's longest river. At 2,508 km in length, the Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains and, for most of its length, meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria as it flows to the northwest, before turning south for its final 500 km or so into South Australia, reaching the ocean at Lake Alexandrina.

The Murray Mouth is the point at which the Murray River empties into the sea, and the interaction between its shallow, shifting and variable currents and the open sea can be complex and unpredictable.

In the 19th century the river supported a substantial commercial trade using shallow-draft paddle steamers. The arrival of steamboat transport was welcomed by pastoralists who had been suffering from a shortage of transport due to the demands of the gold fields. The volume and value of river trade made Echuca Victoria's second port and in the decade from 1874 it underwent considerable expansion. River transport began to decline once the railways touched the Murray at numerous points. The unreliable levels made it impossible for boats to compete with the rail and later road transport. However, the river still carries pleasure boats along its entire length. Today, most traffic on the river is recreational. Small private boats are used for water skiing and fishing. Houseboats are common, both commercial for hire and privately owned. There are a number of both historic paddle steamers and newer boats offering cruises ranging from half an hour to 5 days.

South Australia Travel Blogs

  • River Trading

    River Trading

    Paddlesteamers are a part of Australia's romantic culture. While an integral part of the Murray transport system, they combined the magic of outback Australia and the River itself.

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