Located in southeastern Australia, the Darling River is Australia's third-longest river after the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers and the longest tributary of the Murray-Darling River System. The river flows southwest through New South Wales and joins the Murray River at Wentworth on the border of Victoria.
The Murray-Darling Basin is the main river basin and the only fully developed water system in Australia, covering about 14% of the country's total area. The Darling River is an important waterway in the Outback region and has been home to the Australian Aboriginal people for several centuries.
Part of the Darling River's upper reaches is the boundary between Queensland and New South Wales. The important tributaries are the Barang River and the Warrego River on the right bank, and the water volume changes seasonally. The river section below Burke is navigable in the rainy season, and there are many water conservancy irrigation facilities along the river.
Size And Description of Darling River
The source of the Darling River is generally considered to be the Severn River, which herders have gradually developed since 1815. In 1828, the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Ralph Darling, sent explorer Charles Sturt to explore the lower waterways of the Macquarie River. He happened to have probed the Bogen River first and then, in early 1829, the Darling Mainstream, where the Bawang-Courgoa confluence came together. In the second half of the 19th century, the river was still the most important interior waterway, but railways had long replaced waterway transportation.
Darling River Size
The Darling River and its continuous tributaries are the longest river system in the basin and Australia, with a total length of 2,844 kilometers. However, the Darling River flows for about 1,472 kilometers (915 miles) from northern New South Wales to Wentworth, where it joins the Murray River. The Darling system drains a 650,000 sq km (250,000 sq mi) basin with an average annual discharge of 102 cubic meters (3,600 cubic feet) per second at Menindee. The Darling River begins at the confluence of the Culgoa and Barwon River, at a point located at an elevation of about 119 meters above sea level, and drops to an elevation of 35 meters at its mouth in Wentworth. The river discharges 100 cubic meters of water at the mouth and drains an area of approximately 609,283 square kilometers.
|1,472 km (915 mi)
|650,000 sq km (250,000 sq mi)
|average annual discharge
|102 cubic m (3,600 cubic ft)
|609,283 sq km
The Darling River has many tributaries. The main tributaries on the right bank are the Plan River, the Barwon River, the Culgoa River, the Warrego River, and the Pa·roo River; on the left bank are the Castlereagh, McQuarrie, Bogan, and other rivers. Starting from Burke, the river slopes down gently, surrounded by semi-arid areas, and there are no tributaries except for the two intermittent rivers of Warrigo and Palu.
The Darling River fluctuates as a result of droughts and floods. Because much of Darling's course runs through extensive saltbush pastures, receiving an average of less than 10 inches (250 mm) of rain annually, the river often loses more water by evaporation than is gained from its tributaries, many of which sometimes fail to reach the mainstream.
The 300 mm precipitation line divides the Murray-Darling Basin into arid or semi-arid (prairie) pastoral areas in the west and humid agricultural areas in the east. Almost all of the 3.23 million square kilometers of pastoral areas are owned by sheep farmers, and the land owned by each person is large enough for grazing. Agriculture is only available in small irrigated areas along the Darling River; fodder is produced in Wilcania, Bourke, and Brewarrina, while grapes and citrus are grown further south in Mallee.
The Lake Menindee impoundment project was completed in 1960, creating a series of reservoirs holding 1,794,000,000 cubic meters of water, addressing irrigation and domestic water, which controlled the flow of the lower Murray River and also provided South Australia. More reliable irrigation water has enabled the region to have diversified agriculture and denser villages in the drier western plains.
Despite its significance, overuse of the river water for irrigation, pollution, and severe drought have affected its health and flow. The Darling River barely flowed into the Murray River in 2019 due to a prolonged drought. Over recent decades, local relevant departments are also doing their best to restore the ecology of coastal areas; the threatened Darling is flowing again. If you have the opportunity to visit Australia, be sure to seize the opportunity to see the scenery along the Darling River and learn about the cultural history of the local Aboriginal people.