Reflections off still waters


A look at the flow required in key locations

We never know the wealth of water til the well is dry

Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia (1732)

A brief look at trends and recordings for the rivers along the Darling River, including tributaries from the Condamine River.

Basically you will want rain and high flows to tackle the river systems above Bourke, but the Darling should be OK most of the time, as long as it is flowing all the way to Wentworth.

Condamine River

The upper Condamine River rarely flows at a high enough level to comfortably paddle the gorge. You should time any attempt with rain or walk this section instead. Dangerous if done in a flood due to all of the barbed wire fences across the river and log jams.

At Brosnans Barn, a flow greater than 85 ML/day is seen only 5% of the time and no flow at all for 2 months each year.

The main stretch of the Condamine River rarely flows freely. It would be likely best after a heavy rain, but water levels quickly fall so don't delay your trip! Leave as soon as you consider it safe to paddle after a flood and do not muck about for the first 800 km.

At Warwick, medium flows are highest between February and August (37 ML/day to 54 ML/day), but significant rain events are most likely to occur between December and May.

Running river
Flowing Condamine at Cecil Plains. 710 ML/day
River with hardly no water
Five days later, there was no flow

Discharge from Chinchilla Weir averages at least 85 ML/day 33% of the time, 170 ML/day 25% of the time and 850 ML/day 10% of the time, however the average discharges in the 2010's were about half the long term averages seen. Or a more sobering way of looking at the data, from 5 rain events with flows greater than 850 ML/day every year in the first decade of records to an average of just one rain event every year recently.

Brosnans Barn



Chinchilla Weir


Rough Height Guidelines

I had a flow of about 275 ML/day down the gorge and this dropped off to around 200 ML/day by the time I made it to Warwick. It felt slightly marginal at this flow to continue past Warwick, but I did keep going until gear failure forced me to stop.


Percentile Height (m) Flow (MLD) Known Trips
Min 0 0
1 0.04 m 0
5 0.06 m 0
10 0.31 m 0.01
25 0.41 m 0.06
50 0.48 m 0.19
75 0.58 m 0.63
90 0.81 m 2.71
95 1.17 m 6.91 Davison, 2020
99 2.49 m 38.6
Max 6.46 m 278.5


Percentile Height (m) Flow (MLD) Known Trips
Min -0.1 m 0
1 -0.06 m 0
5 0.12 m 0
10 0.40 m 0
25 0.73 m 0.03
50 0.82 m 0.37
75 0.94 m 1.64
90 1.21 m 7.67
95 1.63 m 23.47
99 3.46 m 152.18 Davison, 2021
Max 8.33 m 1,519.39
Gorge is likely unpaddable. Ponds will retain water well after the flow stops below Warwick, however significant portages may be required to connect the ponds. Higher risk of polluted water and blue-green algae outbreaks.
Mostly flatwater paddling with a gentle current. Listen out for fords, weirs and dams that range from 15 cm to 2.5 m in height.
Minor flood at 3 m. Likely riskiest with high flow above Warwick with narrow log clogged creek.
Likely to be extremely dangerous from the gorge down past Warwick to the Talgai Weir.

Some additional monthly statistics. The medium flow is more meaningful than the average or mean that is raised significantly by the rare flood events seen.

MonthMin (MLD)Medium (MLD)Mean (MLD)Max (MLD)
MonthMin (MLD)Medium (MLD)Mean (MLD)Max (MLD)
Jan0 ML/day13 ML/day2,001 ML/day146,441 ML/day
Feb0 ML/day56 ML/day1,971 ML/day107,248 ML/day
Mar0 ML/day22 ML/day990 ML/day39,735 ML/day
Apr0 ML/day19 ML/day1,044 ML/day113,537 ML/day
May0 ML/day29 ML/day1,109 ML/day96,583 ML/day
Jun0 ML/day26 ML/day580 ML/day81,857 ML/day
Jul0 ML/day23 ML/day399 ML/day50,906 ML/day
Aug0 ML/day30 ML/day293 ML/day50,207 ML/day
Sep0 ML/day6 ML/day 297 ML/day24,394 ML/day
Oct0 ML/day0 ML/day 238 ML/day51,471 ML/day
Nov0 ML/day13 ML/day859 ML/day63,953 ML/day
Dec0 ML/day34 ML/day1,478 ML/day236,045 ML/day
Jan0 ML/day58 ML/day3,635 ML/day363,899 ML/day
Feb0 ML/day98 ML/day3,779 ML/day136,436 ML/day
Mar0 ML/day44 ML/day1,629 ML/day93,379 ML/day
Apr0 ML/day35 ML/day1,635 ML/day242,238 ML/day
May0 ML/day36 ML/day1,801 ML/day188,716 ML/day
Jun0 ML/day24 ML/day1,040 ML/day186,348 ML/day
Jul0 ML/day31 ML/day735 ML/day117,184 ML/day
Aug0 ML/day42 ML/day478 ML/day110,077 ML/day
Sep0 ML/day20 ML/day365 ML/day26,861 ML/day
Oct0 ML/day13 ML/day255 ML/day24,053 ML/day
Nov0 ML/day17 ML/day1,120 ML/day107,990 ML/day
Dec0 ML/day46 ML/day2,192 ML/day293,673 ML/day

Back to Contents

Balonne and Culgoa Rivers

Balonne and Culgoa are probably best done after a heavy rain event too, especially if there are planned releases from the Beardmore dam.

The Balonne River only flows constantly for about half of the year and low to average flows would make this a painful outing with low water levels and log jams. Lake Kajarabie does reach a long way up towards Surat, which would come as a relief to anyone attempting this with a low flow. Any flood waters fall fairly quickly, but the dam could normalise the flow slightly below St George. On my second trip, all flow was stopped at the dam and diverted for irragation. This made for a difficult 7 km portage to get to St George.

The Culgoa River is even trickier but generally safe for experienced paddlers in high to flooded conditions. I must emphasize experienced paddlers as there is a high risk with tree canopies that act as strainers. No flow conditions are the norm on the Culgoa and these would likely prove dangerous with very slow progress expected in a very remote and hostile environment. Flood waters tend to stay around for weeks in the Culgoa floodplains. Paddling the Culgoa in flood is still one of my highlights of the inland rivers.

Balonne River
Culgoa River

Rough Height Guidelines

I started with a flow of 3,000 ML/day and paddled consistently over the next week to catch the main flood waters as they passed through the Culgoa Floodplains at around 10,000 ML/day. This was generally a great flow though on the few occasions where I took the wrong branch I saw how easily the log jams would have affected my progress down the system.

Travis Ewan and Daniel Suttle trip noted significant log jam portages and they were roughly tracking a small flood flow that would have ranged from no flow to 10,000 ML/day, flow window was about 5 to 7 days. Mark Kalch's first first trip was tracking a similar but narrower high flow of about 2 to 3 days. Photos and dates suggest he was under 500 ML/day at the QLD - NSW.

On my return trip to the Balonne River, I faced much lower flows of under 200 ML/day and had a few dozen or so log jams to navigate around every day.


Percentile Height (m) Flow (MLD) Known Trips
Min 0.30 m 0
10 0.95 m 0
20 1.06 m 0
30 1.22 m 0
40 1.30 m 6
50 1.41 m 34
60 1.57 m 115 Davison, 2021
70 1.87 m 313
80 2.40 m 922 Kalch, 2016
90 4.19 m 4,583 Ewan & Suttle, 2011; Davison, 2020
95 7.19 m 14,733
99 10.98 m 65,272
Max 13.52 m 335,524


Percentile Height (m) Flow (MLD) Known Trips
Min 0 m 0
10 3.85 m 0
20 4.00 m 63
30 4.05 m 208
40 4.10 m 393 River Kings 2017
50 4.15 m 591 Norman 2008
60 4.22 m 966 Bremers 2020
70 4.35 m 1,907
80 4.73 m 5,353
90 6.73 m 17,958
95 9.48 m 32,092 Davison 2021
99 12.43 m 87,505
Max 13.82 m 231,250
No flow or minimal flow. Progress would mostly halted with portages and log jams. Higher risk of polluted water and blue-green algae outbreaks.
Likely marginal due to low flow and obstacles.
Mostly flatwater paddling with a gentle current. Weirs are not marked and can be extremely dangerous.
Highest risk of entrapment in the Balonne in the narrow tree lined waterway. Culgoa opens up into mostly floodplains though some hazards still exist.

Some additional monthly statistics. The medium flow is more meaningful than the average or mean that is raised significantly by the rare flood events seen.

Jan0 ML/day120 ML/day14,839 ML/day395,090 ML/day
Feb0 ML/day574 ML/day6,830 ML/day108,877 ML/day
Mar0 ML/day95 ML/day7,270 ML/day231,164 ML/day
Apr0 ML/day51 ML/day1,376 ML/day39,168 ML/day
May0 ML/day8 ML/day243 ML/day6,724 ML/day
Jun0 ML/day10 ML/day108 ML/day2,364 ML/day
Jul0 ML/day3 ML/day264 ML/day8,226 ML/day
Aug0 ML/day0 ML/day93 ML/day3,059 ML/day
Sep0 ML/day5 ML/day858 ML/day30,469 ML/day
Oct0 ML/day0 ML/day948 ML/day25,682 ML/day
Nov0 ML/day0 ML/day462 ML/day9,825 ML/day
Dec0 ML/day347 ML/day5,027 ML/day130,357 ML/day
Jan0 ML/day12 ML/day680 ML/day15,637 ML/day
Feb0 ML/day227 ML/day9,034 ML/day81,084 ML/day
Mar0 ML/day1 ML/day4,848 ML/day69,801 ML/day
Apr0 ML/day298 ML/day1,425 ML/day17,371 ML/day
May0 ML/day61 ML/day178 ML/day2,555 ML/day
Jun0 ML/day65 ML/day146 ML/day1,119 ML/day
Jul0 ML/day5 ML/day238 ML/day3,596 ML/day
Aug0 ML/day6 ML/day74 ML/day432 ML/day
Sep0 ML/day1 ML/day1,611 ML/day40,187 ML/day
Oct0 ML/day0 ML/day224 ML/day15,157 ML/day
Nov0 ML/day0 ML/day0 ML/day2 ML/day
Dec0 ML/day3 ML/day156 ML/day965 ML/day
Jan0 ML/day138 ML/day2,375 ML/day37,010 ML/day
Feb0 ML/day155 ML/day2,931 ML/day39,902 ML/day
Mar0 ML/day156 ML/day2,213 ML/day37,071 ML/day
Apr0 ML/day49 ML/day1,052 ML/day31,740 ML/day
May0 ML/day30 ML/day1,224 ML/day32,576 ML/day
Jun0 ML/day11 ML/day742 ML/day32,078 ML/day
Jul0 ML/day15 ML/day575 ML/day28,640 ML/day
Aug0 ML/day12 ML/day519 ML/day31,814 ML/day
Sep0 ML/day10 ML/day561 ML/day31,305 ML/day
Oct0 ML/day5 ML/day216 ML/day14,608 ML/day
Nov0 ML/day3 ML/day668 ML/day18,141 ML/day
Dec0 ML/day81 ML/day1,585 ML/day31,854 ML/day
Jan0 ML/day8 ML/day332 ML/day11,099 ML/day
Feb0 ML/day18 ML/day396 ML/day13,493 ML/day
Mar0 ML/day12 ML/day326 ML/day10,151 ML/day
Apr0 ML/day0 ML/day131 ML/day3,326 ML/day
May0 ML/day0 ML/day208 ML/day9,208 ML/day
Jun0 ML/day0 ML/day179 ML/day8,166 ML/day
Jul0 ML/day0 ML/day128 ML/day6,359 ML/day
Aug0 ML/day0 ML/day85 ML/day5,431 ML/day
Sep0 ML/day0 ML/day60 ML/day2,546 ML/day
Oct0 ML/day0 ML/day38 ML/day1,706 ML/day
Nov0 ML/day0 ML/day70 ML/day1,574 ML/day
Dec0 ML/day0 ML/day144 ML/day3,529 ML/day
Jan0 ML/day1 ML/day331 ML/day13,581 ML/day
Feb0 ML/day5 ML/day411 ML/day18,603 ML/day
Mar0 ML/day10 ML/day312 ML/day12,876 ML/day
Apr0 ML/day0 ML/day84 ML/day3,756 ML/day
May0 ML/day0 ML/day243 ML/day15,758 ML/day
Jun0 ML/day0 ML/day208 ML/day13,987 ML/day
Jul0 ML/day0 ML/day121 ML/day9,865 ML/day
Aug0 ML/day0 ML/day74 ML/day6,433 ML/day
Sep0 ML/day0 ML/day38 ML/day2,801 ML/day
Oct0 ML/day0 ML/day21 ML/day1,619 ML/day
Nov0 ML/day0 ML/day42 ML/day1,683 ML/day
Dec0 ML/day0 ML/day106 ML/day3,938 ML/day
Jan0 ML/day16 ML/day1,614 ML/day106,462 ML/day
Feb0 ML/day17 ML/day1,627 ML/day109,793 ML/day
Mar0 ML/day17 ML/day1,158 ML/day49,674 ML/day
Apr0 ML/day0 ML/day377 ML/day30,599 ML/day
May0 ML/day0 ML/day588 ML/day30,349 ML/day
Jun0 ML/day0 ML/day422 ML/day27,820 ML/day
Jul0 ML/day0 ML/day286 ML/day18,777 ML/day
Aug0 ML/day0 ML/day269 ML/day23,782 ML/day
Sep0 ML/day0 ML/day192 ML/day11,552 ML/day
Oct0 ML/day0 ML/day80 ML/day8,112 ML/day
Nov0 ML/day0 ML/day223 ML/day6,780 ML/day
Dec0 ML/day0 ML/day524 ML/day11,150 ML/day
MonthMinMediumMeanMaxNo Flow (%)
Jan0 ML/day22 ML/day1,278 ML/day47,025 ML/day41.9
Feb0 ML/day105 ML/day1,964 ML/day51,729 ML/day34.5
Mar0 ML/day112 ML/day1,363 ML/day27,136 ML/day29.9
Apr0 ML/day37 ML/day696 ML/day8,562 ML/day35.9
May0 ML/day9 ML/day838 ML/day28,766 ML/day39.4
Jun0 ML/day3 ML/day689 ML/day22,677 ML/day45.6
Jul0 ML/day0 ML/day419 ML/day11,918 ML/day50.3
Aug0 ML/day0 ML/day310 ML/day11,132 ML/day49.3
Sep0 ML/day0 ML/day291 ML/day11,408 ML/day52.3
Oct0 ML/day0 ML/day211 ML/day8,701 ML/day57.7
Nov0 ML/day0 ML/day293 ML/day5,216 ML/day61.8
Dec0 ML/day0 ML/day591 ML/day8,047 ML/day55.8

A reminder for those unfamiliar with the system, the Balonne River splits into Culgoa and Balonne Minor rivers. The Narran River is a major distributary that feeds into the endorheic (no outflow) Narran Lake. The Balonne Minor River splits into the Bokhara River and Ballandool River, the latter being effectively a smaller anabranch of the Bokhara River, joining back up after the border. The Birrie River is a major distributary that joins the Culgoa River close to the Darling. The four gauges near Hebel and Weilmoringle reflect the majority of the flow across the QLD - NSW border.

Back to Contents

Darling River

NSW Water has stated that in previous years if there was any flow at all, even a mere trickle of 10 - 20 ML/day a day, the river would be navigable its full length because of the weirs.

Bar chart of the flow assessment done at Bourke

While the Darling River once flowed freely, it now has a more of a boom and bust characteristic over the last couple of decades. This was particularly noticeable in 2018 and 2019 where it mostly ran dry. Without a prolonged rain, the flow will pass through quickly, leaving a small window of pleasant paddling before low waters.

In general, most of the Darling Rivers waters will come from the border rivers, particularly from the upper NSW catchments and not from the Culgoa River.

Higher flows are usually seen about a month after the QLD wet season, from February through April, but winter rains often assist OK flows if there isn't a drought. It takes about 50 days for the flood to make its way from Bourke to Menindee.

Depending on storage levels in the lakes, the MDBA may or may not release the water downstream straightaway. Pooncarie should see water that is released from Menindee after approx. 15 days and Wentworth approx. 10 days after Pooncarie.

The MDBA suggested the river would be paddleable with a marginal flow of 20 ML/day. Personally I was waiting on a flow above 1,000 ML/day before attempting the river and by sheer luck I got a minor to moderate flood with a flow of ~40,000 ML/day making for a very enjoyable and fast trip down the system.

Based only on my own limited experience and a few reports, a flow under 100 ML/day to 200 ML/day is not recommended and it is probably best to aim for at least 400 ML/day. My personal minimum would be 1,000 ML/day.

A flood at Bourke will have a flow greater than 30,300 ML/day. This starts to spill out onto the floodplains in localised areas but this shouldn't be too concerning on a minor to moderate flood. The main risk will come from attempting shortcuts that could result in a detour into a filling billabong or even a distibrary. Be prepared to turn around!

Riverbed without water
No flow
Riverbed with some water and weeds
Low flow, ~0 to 1 kph currents
River with high banks
Good flow, ~2 to 3 kph currents
River completely filled with water
Minor flood, ~3 to 5 kph currents

Rough Height Guidelines

Flows above 250 ML/day down the upper section seem to have had adequate water to paddle down to the lakes. Multiple trips in the sub 400 ML/day in the lower section appear to have had minor issues with weeds and shallows, albeit no horror stories.

Cristo Norman traveled the river in 2008 on the tail end of a decent flow of 700 ML/day but slowly dropped off the back of the high flows and noted some portages / rapids above Menindee. Difficult conditions below Menindee with a marginal release of 50 ML/day. Some key dates and flows noted below.

Bourke (2 April)
700 ML/day. Noted getting caught in a sandbar above Bourke, otherwise good paddling
Tilpa (15 April)
300 ML/day, rapids noted in the next section
Wilcannia (28 April)
110 ML/day
Bindara (11 May)
80 km south of Menindee. Lots of dragging noted.
Pooncarie (15 May)
50 ML/day. Most difficult section with low flow and weeds choking the river.

Bill, et al, did this leg in sea kayaks in 2017. High flows flushed the system, and they paddled the system with 380 ML/day to Menindee and 220 ML/day below. A couple snags were mentioned in the lower section. They took 58 days from Brewarrina to Wentworth. There was a consistent flow of 400 ML/day plus at Bourke during July reported by WaterNSW, and Pooncarie was reading closer to 300 ML/day in August, so the actual flow may have been high than they reported.


Percentile Height (m) Flow (MLD) Known Trips
Min -0.46 m 0
5 -0.24 m 0
10 -0.05 m 0
20 0.21 m 24
30 0.48 m 159 Norman 2008
40 0.67 m 342 River Kings, 2017
50 0.83 m 535
60 1.09 m 976 Bremers 2020
70 1.62 m 2,012
80 3.26 m 6,053
90 7.13 m 18,400
95 9.35 m 27,981
99 10.47 m 37,835 Davison, 2021
Max 11.00 m 47,965


Percentile Height (m) Flow (MLD) Known Trips
Min 0.22 m 0
5 0.37 m 0
10 0.56 m 48
20 0.99 m 111 Norman 2008
30 1.53 m 279 River Kings 2017; Bremers 2020
40 1.64 m 583 Davison, 2021
50 1.72 m 1,561
60 1.81 m 1,965
70 1.87 m 2,731
80 2.48 m 3,782
90 4.07 m 7,176
95 6.74 m 15,302
99 7.36 m 17,791
Max 7.80 m 27,735
Ponds will retain water well after the flow stops, though sections directly below the weirs will be shallow and likely require portages significantly hindering progress. Higher risk of polluted water and blue-green algae outbreaks.
Likely marginal due to low flow and obstacles.
Mostly flatwater paddling with a gentle current. Listen out for weirs.
Always take care with high flows.

Some additional monthly statistics. The medium flow is more meaningful than the average or mean that is raised significantly by the rare flood events seen.

MonthMinMediumMeanMax0 Flow (%)
Jan0 ML/day973 ML/day8,304 ML/day443,798 ML/day15.3
Feb0 ML/day1,004 ML/day11,895 ML/day374,754 ML/day10.4
Mar0 ML/day1,360 ML/day15,640 ML/day500,931 ML/day6.8
Apr0 ML/day1,025 ML/day6,702 ML/day112,231 ML/day4.5
May0 ML/day726 ML/day6,950 ML/day137,220 ML/day4.5
Jun0 ML/day741 ML/day7,332 ML/day160,466 ML/day4.8
Jul0 ML/day879 ML/day5,550 ML/day106,668 ML/day2.8
Aug0 ML/day888 ML/day6,670 ML/day126,904 ML/day4.0
Sep0 ML/day668 ML/day8,166 ML/day231,250 ML/day9.7
Oct0 ML/day548 ML/day6,490 ML/day219,763 ML/day14.4
Nov0 ML/day669 ML/day3,667 ML/day42,435 ML/day13.9
Dec0 ML/day950 ML/day5,354 ML/day76,144 ML/day16.5
MonthMinMediumMeanMax0 Flow (%)
Jan0 ML/day462 ML/day5,495 ML/day230,244 ML/day28.6
Feb0 ML/day1,351 ML/day10,252 ML/day326,597 ML/day25.0
Mar0 ML/day1,634 ML/day15,571 ML/day360,381 ML/day13.6
Apr0 ML/day1,011 ML/day10,964 ML/day287,071 ML/day15.6
May0 ML/day259 ML/day3,603 ML/day153,857 ML/day20.5
Jun0 ML/day184 ML/day4,074 ML/day165,276 ML/day25.4
Jul0 ML/day265 ML/day4,880 ML/day197,912 ML/day20.1
Aug0 ML/day463 ML/day6,472 ML/day260,786 ML/day16.4
Sep0 ML/day486 ML/day3,752 ML/day113,084 ML/day14.5
Oct0 ML/day285 ML/day4,870 ML/day207,422 ML/day24.0
Nov0 ML/day182 ML/day4,066 ML/day55,413 ML/day31.3
Dec0 ML/day358 ML/day4,311 ML/day61,940 ML/day31.9
MonthMinMediumMeanMax0 Flow (%)
Jan0 ML/day522 ML/day7,976 ML/day71,815 ML/day23.4
Feb0 ML/day411 ML/day7,592 ML/day67,198 ML/day23.2
Mar0 ML/day991 ML/day11,390 ML/day125,612 ML/day15.8
Apr0 ML/day642 ML/day6,019 ML/day95,664 ML/day9.3
May0 ML/day623 ML/day2,136 ML/day27,416 ML/day5.6
Jun4 ML/day457 ML/day1,989 ML/day30,732 ML/day0.0
Jul0 ML/day424 ML/day1,289 ML/day28,206 ML/day1.6
Aug0 ML/day393 ML/day2,266 ML/day54,129 ML/day4.2
Sep0 ML/day215 ML/day4,953 ML/day104,349 ML/day7.7
Oct0 ML/day218 ML/day5,822 ML/day115,342 ML/day11.5
Nov0 ML/day113 ML/day4,028 ML/day70,474 ML/day10.1
Dec0 ML/day199 ML/day3,733 ML/day54,835 ML/day14.2
MonthMinMediumMeanMax0 Flow (%)
Jan0 ML/day938 ML/day4,610 ML/day30,336 ML/day17.7
Feb0 ML/day729 ML/day5,784 ML/day51,376 ML/day14.9
Mar0 ML/day1,801 ML/day8,068 ML/day67,198 ML/day9.3
Apr0 ML/day1,139 ML/day7,692 ML/day68,493 ML/day6.3
May0 ML/day861 ML/day5,607 ML/day56,871 ML/day3.3
Jun0 ML/day678 ML/day5,254 ML/day47,965 ML/day2.2
Jul0 ML/day750 ML/day5,494 ML/day45,238 ML/day2.3
Aug0 ML/day932 ML/day5,540 ML/day41,650 ML/day1.4
Sep0 ML/day688 ML/day5,088 ML/day37,836 ML/day2.2
Oct0 ML/day533 ML/day5,445 ML/day43,449 ML/day8.9
Nov0 ML/day405 ML/day4,167 ML/day40,941 ML/day16.4
Dec0 ML/day678 ML/day4,128 ML/day27,059 ML/day20.1
MonthMinMediumMeanMax0 Flow (%)
Jan0 ML/day2,217 ML/day4,112 ML/day33,308 ML/day2.2
Feb0 ML/day1,397 ML/day4,313 ML/day36,116 ML/day2.5
Mar0 ML/day708 ML/day5,581 ML/day87,805 ML/day1.2
Apr0 ML/day373 ML/day6,028 ML/day126,176 ML/day1.7
May0 ML/day294 ML/day4,831 ML/day121,993 ML/day0.7
Jun0 ML/day226 ML/day2,800 ML/day31,708 ML/day2.2
Jul0 ML/day214 ML/day2,935 ML/day44,200 ML/day1.8
Aug0 ML/day229 ML/day3,390 ML/day43,841 ML/day1.3
Sep0 ML/day285 ML/day3,969 ML/day38,646 ML/day1.0
Oct0 ML/day379 ML/day4,008 ML/day46,468 ML/day1.8
Nov0 ML/day621 ML/day3,863 ML/day42,607 ML/day2.2
Dec0 ML/day1,384 ML/day4,563 ML/day25,995 ML/day2.2
MonthMinMediumMeanMax0 Flow (%)
Jan0 ML/day1,980 ML/day4,032 ML/day18,900 ML/day3.4
Feb0 ML/day2,229 ML/day4,393 ML/day18,929 ML/day3.6
Mar0 ML/day2,703 ML/day4,652 ML/day19,361 ML/day2.3
Apr0 ML/day2,318 ML/day4,874 ML/day27,735 ML/day2.3
May0 ML/day1,973 ML/day4,689 ML/day21,241 ML/day2.3
Jun0 ML/day1,453 ML/day3,458 ML/day19,505 ML/day2.3
Jul0 ML/day1,205 ML/day3,561 ML/day18,893 ML/day3.0
Aug0 ML/day1,863 ML/day4,541 ML/day19,298 ML/day2.5
Sep0 ML/day1,977 ML/day4,768 ML/day20,035 ML/day1.2
Oct0 ML/day2,109 ML/day4,487 ML/day19,552 ML/day1.2
Nov0 ML/day1,787 ML/day3,997 ML/day18,791 ML/day1.8
Dec0 ML/day1,699 ML/day4,181 ML/day18,150 ML/day2.6
MonthMinMediumMeanMax0 Flow (%)
Jan752 ML/day7,475 ML/day11,849 ML/day83,485 ML/day0.0
Feb855 ML/day7,267 ML/day10,393 ML/day90,197 ML/day0.0
Mar828 ML/day6,126 ML/day8,945 ML/day76,607 ML/day0.0
Apr845 ML/day6,995 ML/day9,925 ML/day66,087 ML/day0.0
May861 ML/day7,893 ML/day10,692 ML/day58,602 ML/day0.0
Jun794 ML/day8,005 ML/day12,054 ML/day58,962 ML/day0.0
Jul1,054 ML/day9,453 ML/day15,784 ML/day75,007 ML/day0.0
Aug870 ML/day11,049 ML/day20,856 ML/day80,819 ML/day0.0
Sep874 ML/day15,589 ML/day25,691 ML/day112,655 ML/day0.0
Oct793 ML/day11,171 ML/day25,085 ML/day119,383 ML/day0.0
Nov740 ML/day10,872 ML/day25,159 ML/day140,484 ML/day0.0
Dec829 ML/day9,630 ML/day18,929 ML/day105,633 ML/day0.0

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Flow Unpredictability

While looking at long term averages and tends to help to indicate the best times to plan your trip, this river system is very unpredictable. The following table looks at the median flows over the last two decades.


Low flow (< 1 Cumecs)
Any flow under 1 Cumecs is considered to be low. The MDBA consider 20 ML/day to be enough water to ensure all weirs are fill.
OK flow (1 to 10 Cumecs)
Any flow between 1 Cumecs and 10 Cumecs should ensure the weirs are filled and minimal portages required.
Good flow (10 to 250 Cumecs)
Flows above 10 Cumecs should assist your journey with a decent current.
High flow (> 250 Cumecs)
Flows above 250 Cumecs are considered to be fairly high. A minor flood starts at 30,300 ML/day.
Year Monthly Median Flow at Bourke (MLD)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2000 1,430 450 15,034 4,942 7,614 2,705 2,454 2,092 1,746 1,198 2,907 59,893
2001 1,731 11,639 5,007 4,358 1,125 1,046 859 1,690 684 471 376 653
2002 300 46 665 419 194 160 98 70 30 57 0 0
2003 0 0 1,958 801 949 274 124 135 98 16 212 62
2004 1,591 14,827 1,464 1,895 330 253 121 68 27 344 84 712
2005 3,558 556 38 26 17 27 5,276 1,109 321 312 168 278
2006 358 280 771 363 82 93 87 81 9 0 0 0
2007 0 0 0 42 21 27 193 404 506 215 36 1,690
2008 16,696 7,709 1,303 121 32 27 69 26 12 130 36 17
2009 981 4,018 1,251 219 93 1,245 645 242 47 0 0 0
2010 39,758 2,772 8,415 26,370 524 129 160 4,127 9,408 14,960 22,000 27,727
2011 70,329 75,148 6,508 6,895 4,247 1,141 1,205 990 788 1,350 2,028 24,063
2012 63,134 28,181 95,146 9,382 2,850 2,351 2,617 9,111 2,996 648 548 448
2013 228 3,286 17,419 16,251 1,217 642 883 1,006 470 181 26 45
2014 8 17 301 1,386 265 129 90 43 53 0 21 0
2015 0 438 231 0 503 497 623 535 439 251 335 11
2016 0 509 102 0 0 0 4,151 6,564 9,538 34,679 15,152 881
2017 352 201 181 558 664 760 450 432 194 176 275 375
2018 1 0 0 152 29 161 95 1 0 0 0 0
2019 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
2020 0 0 10,908 5,282 1,363 186 129 41 777 1,114 154 0
Days Navigable 62.5% 69.8% 76.8% 73.4% 71.1% 76.9% 82.3% 70.8% 60.2% 62.3% 56.0% 56.7%

The above table monthly tallies per type.

Flow Type Monthly Flow Tally for Bourke (2000-2020)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low Flow 8 6 4 5 7 5 3 7 8 7 10 10
OK Flow 4 7 6 7 7 11 11 5 8 9 6 5
Good Flow 9 7 11 9 7 5 6 8 4 4 4 5

A look at the last 50 years shows a concerning decline in the flow reported in the river. This includes the 1982–83 drought, but it is the Millennium drought (2001-2009) and the current dry spell (2016-) that have really affected the river flow in the last two decades.

Percentiles Flow Analysis for Bourke by Decade (MLD)
1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
Min 66 0 0 0 0
10% 867 292 11 0 0
20% 1,434 424 183 26 0
30% 2,348 608 344 70 78
40% 3,439 889 490 127 212
Median 4,478 1,321 681 252 432
60% 6,218 2,885 1,138 471 678
70% 9,271 5,936 2,580 819 1,346
80% 14,733 12,961 6,907 1,357 4,760
90% 25,667 25,850 22,971 4,352 20,776
Max 497,944 160,765 231,248 76,217 179,762
Average 15,047 8,988 7,981 2,107 6,176

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Water Gauges