Calm waters pre-dawn on Lake Alexandrina

Tragedies on the Murray

Known paddler fatalities on the Murray River

A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. But we do be afraid of the sea, and we do only be drowned now and again.

From The Aran Islands by John Millington Synge

Over the years more than 200 people have drowned along the waters of the Murray River, including many swimmers, fishermen, boaters and paddlers. The river's smooth waters can appear gentle but the current can be very strong with nasty undertows.

The wide open waters of Lake Alexandrina and Lake Hume are both notorious for rough and quickly changing conditions that have caught out many boaters including paddlers. Even the rather narrow Lake Mulwala and wider sections of the river itself can be tricky in rough conditions.

The following is an incomplete list of some of the paddler tragedies along the river. This is not intended to be morbid but was added as a simple reminder that there are many inherent dangers in our sport and we need to respect the water we play in.

Murray River

Apr 2002
75-year-old man in a canoe. Anabranch near Snake Island (opposite Doctors Point). Ryans Creek?
Dec 1982
31-year-old man (lifesaver) drowned when the canoe carrying three men capsized downstream Hume Dam.
Dec 1945
22-year-old man drowned paddling at Doctor’s Point.

Lake Hume

Aug 1963
7 died (2 instructors and 5 participants) in a canoe training expedition.
Jul 2011
33-year-old man kayaking near Kookaburra Point.
Sep 1960
16-year-old child drowned after his homemade canoe sank.

Lake Alexandrina

The left hand side shoreline is considered the safest.

Nov 2020
31-year-old man drowned after two men set off in an inflatable canoe near Milang.
Aug 1987
Four drowned after a group of 13 in were caught out in rough conditions 1 km from shore.
Four drowned attempting to navigate the Murray Mouth in the whaleboat.

Murray Mouth

Final mention to the mouth itself. The tidal currents here can be extremely strong and great care should be taken. I've personally experienced currents of at least 8 kph.

Dec 2021
36-year-old man in a kayak. Launched from Hindmarsh Island and washed ashore on the ocean side of Younghusband Peninsula.