Current Musing: Murray and Darling River Systems (On hold - COVID-19)
View of Mt Superbus

Planning

This trip is a difficult and potentially very dangerous expedition, especially long periods in the remote outback environments. Risks include, but are not limited to:

  • Remoteness: you should be self-sufficient with enough supplies for each leg.
  • Drowning: risks are greatest with whitewater kayaking, but even flat water kayaking has its own dangers.
  • Snakes: don't panic about these, but take precautions and stay alert. Tally is 1 Eastern Brown that swum past.
  • Water borne diseases: both wild animals and domesticated cattle contaminate the river, with carcases and faeces. Algae toxins are often present due to the slow flow and high temperatures. Only use treated water when it is unpractical to carry clean drinking water.
  • Hypothermia and hyperthermia: in the summer months temperatures can regularly exceed 45°C (113°F), and drop well below 0°C (32°F) in winter. In a desert environment, you should be prepared for large temperature swings between day and night.

While I am posting this information to assist fellow explorers, you should not rely on anything stated on this page without first confirming it independently from more reliable sources.

Stores, distances & coordinates below are only approximations from using various maps and online tools, but should be accurate enough for the trip.

Coordinates will generally be at a takeout point or bridge for most locations. Various reports suggest views of the small towns could be obscured by the river banks, so some care needs to be taken while navigating down the river.

Quick Links

Catchments

Map

The Balonne catchment that is part of the northern Murray-Darling Basin. This is the main catchment for the upper rivers. Multiple catchments feed the Barwon River which is the main driver of the Darling River.

For up to date information on the catchments see the Murray-Darling Basin Authority website for catchments and water storage levels.

Catchment Effects Water Storage Contribution
to MDB
Condamine–Balonne Condamine, Balonne, Culgoa Beardmore Dam (94 GL), Leslie Dam (106 GL), Cooby Dam (21 GL) 8.5%
Moonie & Border Rivers Barwon Pindari Lake (312 GL), Glenlyon Lake (261 GL), Lake Coolmunda (69 GL) 5.8%
Namoi & Gwydir Barwon Keepit Dam (426 GL), Split Rock Dam (397 GL), Chaffey Dam (101 GL), Copeton Dam (1,364 GL) 6.6%
Macquarie–Castlereagh Barwon Burrendong (1,190 GL), Windamere (353 GL), Oberon (45 GL), Ben Chifley (31 GL), Suma Park (18 GL) 8.4%
Warrego & Paroo Darling Cunnamulla Weir (4.8 GL) < 1%
Barwon–Darling Darling Lakes Menindee, Cawndilla, Pamamaroo and Wetherell (1,730 GL) 2.8%

Resources & Tools

River Conditions

Most relevant gauge informational pages are linked to from the main overview page of the trip.

Maps

Any time estimates are for a worst case of ~20 km per day and best case of ~50 km per day.

To date, I've had 3 full days on the river where I did not make ~20 km due to very low flows and / or log jams! All above Warwick.

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Condamine River

The Condamine River is the most diverse section of the entire waterway. From a gentle stream in highland farmland surrounded by rainforests, it is channeled into a forested gorge before entering the wide farming plains of the Darling Downs.

Cambanoora Gorge

Cambanoora Gorge runs between the source of the Condamine River and Killarney, QLD. It is also known as the Condamine Gorge.

Levels under 2.1 m are likely to become difficult to paddle the bouldery sections of the gorge. Expect about a dozen or two fences across the creek. Most farmers used barbed wire so be careful!

1.9 m at the Head represents almost zero flow and levels drop quickly after heavy rain. On an average year, there are 55 days at or above the recommeneded flow at Killarney (Brosnans Barn), but only 4.5 days at or above 1 Cumecs at the Head.

Creek with hardly no flow

Normal flow, gauge height 1.9 m

Rapids in a creek

High flow with heavy rain, gauge height 2.2 m

Warwick

Low flow is the greatest unknown of this trip, so I've done a lot of extra planning for this leg, including public transport options. This is a self-supported trip mostly, so it'll be find a temporary home for the kayak and bus back if needed. Any prices for transport were to / from Ipswich, QLD and likely already out of date!

Flow dropped off significantly after rain, you really need to be ready to go quickly after heavy rains to use the current. A flow higher than 1.5 m above normal should allow you to paddle over many of the fences across the river.

Last major supply pickup before Chinchilla, which is 426 km downstream. Expecting some supplies at Cecil Plains with maybe a side trip to Dalby if required.

By car, State Route 82 follows the river mostly between Warwick and Dalby, but this is not serviced by any transport companies. Warwick lacks any form of long term parking but Benz Auto Dismantlers in Warwick offer long term storage at a reasonable price.

Ipswich to Warwick is serviced by Crisps Coaches, leaving from Dinmore 11:05am / 3:20pm for ~$60.

Other possible towns on the way to Cecil Plains seem very limited and off the track:

Clifton
Coordinates 27° 55' 44.9" S, 151° 54' 21.9" E
Population 1,456 Supermarket(s)

19 km E along Clifton Leyburn Rd

Millmerran
Coordinates 27° 52' 44.1" S, 151° 16' 9.5" E
Population 1,563 Supermarket(s)
  • 13.2 km SW along Gore Hwy from the bridge
  • 166 km from Warwick (3 to 8 days)
  • 108 km from Warwick on State Route 82 by car
  • Bus 11:30 Tuesday, Friday. Bus Stop, Commens Street, near QATB. Charleville to Brisbane Bus to Toowoomba, 3 hr wait for connecting bus to Ipswich Bus QLD: ~$40
  • Return service 10:30 am from Toowoomba, which would be the 6:57 am Bus Stop A, Bell Street, Ipswich arriving 8:40 am

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Loudoun Weir, Dalby

  • Dalby is 10 km north east of bridge
  • 294 km from Warwick (6 to 15 days)
  • 180 km from Warwick on State Route 82, 165 km on A2/3
  • Bus 16:51 7 days per week. Shell Roadhouse, Cnr Drayton Street and Cunninham Street. Charleville to Brisbane Bus, Bus QLD: ~$25. There is a second bus service returning to Brisbane that goes past very early in the morning, but skips Ipswich. Mount Isa to Brisbane Bus. Same company / prices.
  • Return service either the 06:57 or 15:35 from Ipswich, arriving 10:12 / 18:57.
Warra
  • 6.5 km north of bridge Warra Kogan Rd (-26.952272, 150.869958)
  • 74 km Dalby (2 to 4 days) / 368 km Warwick (8 to 19 days)
  • Bus 16:16 7 days per week. Post Office Bus Shelter, Warrego Highway. Charleville to Brisbane Bus, Bus QLD: ~$30
  • Return service either the 06:57 or 15:35 from Ipswich, arriving 10:42 / 19:27.
Brigalow
  • 3.75 km north bridge Banana Bridge Rd (-26.855321, 150.760337)
  • 103 km Dalby (2 to 5 days) / 397 km Warwick (8 to 20 days)
  • Bus 16:03 7 days per week. Opposite General Store, Warrego Highway. Charleville to Brisbane Bus, Bus QLD: ~$30
  • Return service either the 06:57 or 15:35 from Ipswich, arriving 10:54 / 19:39.

Chinchilla Weir

  • 8.9 km north of weir
  • 144 km Dalby (3 to 8 days) / 438 km Warwick (9 to 22 days)
  • Bus 15:40 7 days per week. BP Roadhouse Bus Shelter, Cnr Columba Street & Warrego Highway. Charleville to Brisbane Bus, Bus QLD: ~$35
  • Return service either the 06:57 or 15:35 from Ipswich, arriving 11:12 / 19:57.
  • Reported high crime levels at the moment.

Condamine Township

Maybe a small general store.

  • beside river
  • 86 km Chinchilla (2 to 5 days)
  • Hitch to Miles, 33 km away, then Bus 14:23 7 days per week, Caltex Service Station, Cnr Murilla Street & Tully Street.

Balonne River starts where the Condamine and Dogwood rivers join.

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Balonne and Culgoa Rivers

Surat

Small general store

  • beside river
  • 296 km Chinchilla (6 to 15 days)
  • Hitch to Roma, 80 km away, then Bus 12:35 7 days per week, Bus Shelter outside Roma Motors on 86-94 Arthur Street .
Aerial photographs of Lake Kajarabie empty and fill

St George

Foodworks and IGA in town

  • beside river
  • 476 km Chinchilla (10 to 24 days)
  • Bus 10:00 Tuesday, Friday to Toowoomba, then transfer (see Millmerran). ~$105
  • To Chinchilla, BQ114 BusQLD runs 10:35 am on Monday, Thursday, Saturday to Dalby (3:00 pm) or Toowoomba (4:00 pm). BQ 201 Brisbane to Mount Isa via Dalby (18:57) or Toowoomba (17:45) arriving 19:57 Chinchilla. ~$80

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Culgoa River Head

What way to go? The towns are on the Bokhara that rarely flows, so the Culgoa River appears to be the only choice if there is water.

Culgoa River is 489 km and rejoins the Barwon River to form the Darling River. No current supply points and 108 km to Bourke after joining the Darling River. This means that you will be faced with a 600 km leg without supplies unless you organise a food drop somewhere. Bokhara has multiple towns that could be used for supplies.

In a pinch you could walk over to one of the towns along the Bokhara River. If you are lucky you may even have some luck with a passing car.

Dirranbandi
Elevation 172 m
Coordinates 28° 35' 59.3" S, 148° 12' 31.3" E
Population 640 General Store
Foodworks in town. This is 13.5 km along Bollon Dirrabdbandi Rd if taking the Culgoa River, about 33 km from the rivers head.
Hebel, QLD
Elevation 153 m
Coordinates 28° 58' 9.5" S, 147° 47' 49.2" E
Population 149 General Store

Small store. ~100 km downstream from Dirranbandi if on the Bokhara (super rough estimate). This is 28 km along Woolerbilla Rd if taking the Culgoa River, about 123 km from the rivers head.

Bus 7:45 Hebel, 8:35 Dirranbandi runs Tuesday, Friday to St George, then transfer.

Goodooga, NSW
Elevation 142 m
Coordinates 29° 6' 40.7" S, 147° 26' 52.4" E
Population 247 General Store
~50 km downstream from Hebel if on the Bokhara (super rough estimate). This is 15 km along Goodooga Brenda Rd if taking the Culgoa River, about 190 km from the rivers head.

Gauges at the border

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Weilmoringle

Tiny town in the middle of nowhere! The Post Office / general store has been closed from about 2018.

  • beside river
  • 375 km St George (8 to 19 days) / 851 km Chinchilla (17 to 43 days)
  • Either Transport NSW via Sydney to Brisbane, or via Dubbo to Lightning Ridge, St George, Toowoomba, Brisbane

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The Barwon and Culgoa Rivers merge to form the Darling River.

Darling River

Chart showing river flow at different times down the darling river

While the Darling River once flowed freely, it has a more of a boom and burst characteristic over the last couple of decades. Without a prolonged rain, the flow will pass through quickly, leaving a small window of pleansant paddling before low waters become a drag. It is likely minimal at 1 Cumecs and enjoyable above 10 Cumecs.

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, done 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 below1. A couple snags were mentioned in the lower section. They took 58 days from Brewarrina to Wentworth.

Chart showing river flow at different times down the darling river

NSW Water we had been assured 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.

1 There was a consistant 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 was likely higher?

From the flows seen this year, there is a remarkable predictability of the flow down the river in a flood event. From Bourke (22 Feb), the water took 4 days to reach Louth, 3 days 13 hrs more for Tilpa, 6 days 9 hrs more to Wilcannia and started filling Lake Wetherell 4 days 20 hrs later. The second rain event happened when there was water still flowing in the system and the flow peak speed increased slightly as shown in the table below. The other flow event that was looked at was from 2003 and was slower (smaller rain event).

Town Distance From Bourke Days taken (Speed)
Dry Flow 2003 Dry Flow 2020 Wet Flow 2020
Louth 205 km 5 days 8 hrs (1.6 km/h)
38.5 km per day
4 days (2.1 km/h)
51 km per day
2 days 15 hrs (3.3 km/h)
78 km per day
Tilpa 373 km
168 km from Louth
4 days 7 hrs (1.6 km/h)
39 km per day
3 days 13 hrs (2 km/h)
47.5 km per day
3 days 13 hrs (2 km/h)
Wilcannia 644 km
271 km from Tilpa
8 days 12 hrs (1.3 km/h)
32 km per day
6 days 9 hrs (1.8 km/h)
42.5 km per day
4 days 4 hrs (2.7 km/h)
65 km per day
Lake Wetherell 922 km
278 km from Wilcannia
5 days 8 hrs (1.6 km/h)
52 km per day
4 days 20 hrs (2.4 km/h)
57.5 km per day
undetermined

So if you want to stay with the flow from a heavy rain event, you are looking at approx. 40 to 50 km days when dry and up to 65 km days when wet. However since the upper catchment area spans over 1,000 km between Sydney and Brisbane, the flow from any rain event is likely to last for weeks giving you plenty of time to enjoy the trip down without pushing long days. Also you have at least two weeks for the flow to drop under 10 Cumecs if the peak was above 5,000 ML/day. This gives a 30 km days would be enough to enjoy high flows and even longer if you are happy to paddle flat water down.

Below Menindee, there should be a fairly slow continuous flow if the lakes are filled. This is under complete control of the MDBA. Refer to their weekly reports about the water releases, or lack of, within the system.

Bourke

IGA in town

Avoid leaving your gear unattended here (RK).

  • beside river
  • 618 km St George (13 to 31 days) / 1,094 km Chinchilla (22 to 55 days)
  • Either Transport NSW via Sydney to Brisbane, or via Dubbo to Lightning Ridge, St George, Toowoomba, Brisbane

Louth

The community has a pub that serves as a cafe and store.

Tilpa

Tiny town with pub, store and petrol station.

For public transport options from Louth or Tilpa, go back north to Bourke; alternatively south to Wilcannia or Cobar.

Wilcannia

Apparently petty crime issues in Wilcannia (RK).

Menindee

  • beside river
  • Either Transport NSW via Sydney to Brisbane, or via Dubbo to Lightning Ridge, St George, Toowoomba, Brisbane

Pooncarie

Wikipedia suggested a store, maybe supplies at the pub?

Ellerslie is a small citrus-growing community. Likely no shops etc.

Wentworth

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River Distance Table

Distances (KM) Source First crossing Killarney Warwick Millmerran Cecil Plains Dalby Chinchilla Condamine Dogwood Ck Surat St George Weilmoringle Bourke Louth Tilpa Wilcannia Menindee Pooncarie Wentworth Distances (KM)
Source 0 13 34 104 270 326 387 530 615 723 826 1,005 1,350 1,597 1,802 1,970 2,241 2,559 2,854 3,092 Source
First crossing 13 0 21 91 257 313 374 517 602 710 813 992 1,337 1,584 1,789 1,957 2,228 2,546 2,841 3,079 First crossing
Killarney 34 21 0 70 236 292 353 496 581 689 792 971 1,316 1,563 1,768 1,936 2,207 2,525 2,820 3,058 Killarney
Warwick 104 91 70 0 166 222 283 426 511 619 722 901 1,246 1,493 1,698 1,866 2,137 2,455 2,750 2,988 Warwick
Millmerran 270 257 236 166 0 56 117 260 345 453 556 735 1,080 1,327 1,532 1,700 1,971 2,289 2,584 2,822 Millmerran
Cecil Plains 326 313 292 222 56 0 61 204 289 397 500 679 1,024 1,271 1,476 1,644 1,915 2,233 2,528 2,766 Cecil Plains
Dalby 387 374 353 283 117 61 0 143 228 336 439 618 963 1,210 1,415 1,583 1,854 2,172 2,467 2,705 Dalby
Chinchilla 530 517 496 426 260 204 143 0 85 193 296 475 820 1,067 1,272 1,440 1,711 2,029 2,324 2,562 Chinchilla
Condamine 615 602 581 511 345 289 228 85 0 108 211 390 735 982 1,187 1,355 1,626 1,944 2,239 2,477 Condamine
Dogwood Ck 723 710 689 619 453 397 336 193 108 0 103 282 627 874 1,079 1,247 1,518 1,836 2,131 2,369 Dogwood Ck
Surat 826 813 792 722 556 500 439 296 211 103 0 179 524 771 976 1,144 1,415 1,733 2,028 2,266 Surat
St George 1,005 992 971 901 735 679 618 475 390 282 179 0 345 592 797 965 1,236 1,554 1,849 2,087 St George
Weilmoringle 1,350 1,337 1,316 1,246 1,080 1,024 963 820 735 627 524 345 0 247 452 620 891 1,209 1,504 1,742 Weilmoringle
Bourke 1,597 1,584 1,563 1,493 1,327 1,271 1,210 1,067 982 874 771 592 247 0 205 373 644 962 1,257 1,495 Bourke
Louth 1,802 1,789 1,768 1,698 1,532 1,476 1,415 1,272 1,187 1,079 976 797 452 205 0 168 439 757 1,052 1,290 Louth
Tilpa 1,970 1,957 1,936 1,866 1,700 1,644 1,583 1,440 1,355 1,247 1,144 965 620 373 168 0 271 589 884 1,122 Tilpa
Wilcannia 2,241 2,228 2,207 2,137 1,971 1,915 1,854 1,711 1,626 1,518 1,415 1,236 891 644 439 271 0 318 613 851 Wilcannia
Menindee 2,559 2,546 2,525 2,455 2,289 2,233 2,172 2,029 1,944 1,836 1,733 1,554 1,209 962 757 589 318 0 295 533 Menindee
Pooncarie 2,854 2,841 2,820 2,750 2,584 2,528 2,467 2,324 2,239 2,131 2,028 1,849 1,504 1,257 1,052 884 613 295 0 238 Pooncarie
Wentworth 3,092 3,079 3,058 2,988 2,822 2,766 2,705 2,562 2,477 2,369 2,266 2,087 1,742 1,495 1,290 1,122 851 533 238 0 Wentworth

If starting from Brewarrina, this is about 122 km upstream on the Barwon River fron the Culgoa River confluence, a 205 km leg down to Bourke.

For those continuing down the Murray River, it is 264 km to Remark, 731 km to Murray Bridge and 827 km to the ocean. See the Murray River planning page for the distanace table.

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Flow Analysis

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 in 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.

The main stretch of the Condamine River is likely able to be paddled in most conditions, if it is flowing. Clearly many portages would be required in these conditions. It would be 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 1000 km.

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.

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 in the first 10 years of records to an average of just one rain event every year recently.

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 Beadmore 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.

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.

Darling River

Bar chart of the flow assessment done at Bourke

The Darling River generally sees some flow most of the time, and it is apparently paddlable with a marginal 10 - 20 ML/day.

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 a flood about 20 days 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.

Without any real data to base things on a low flow under 1 Cumecs should be considered as being difficult, a flow of 1 Cumecs and 10 Cumecs should be easily navigable, and anything above 10 Cumecs should make for a noticeable to assist your journey down the river. A flood at Bourke will have a flow greater than 30,300 ML/day.

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

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.

Key

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 fill 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 and a minor flood starts at 30,300 ML/day (indicated with ).
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
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

For all of the details see the flow analysis page for many gauges along the system and also the flood analysis that tracked how the waters flowed in the rain event of Feb 2020.

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