Mirror surface on a river

Drinking Water

Water sustains all.

Thales of Miletus

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Even though you are surrounded by a billion litres of water, getting drinking water is not always as straightforward as one would expect. There are two main options, to use the river or town supplies. The former may not be safe in the hotter summer months due to blue-green algae outbreaks. If these get too bad, it may not even be safe to continue paddling on the river!

River Water

Koala drinking water on a log that has fallen into the river

My current approach is to carry or filter drinking water and to cook with water from the river. This ensures clean tasting drinking water while minismising fuss / weight when cooking. In flood or during blue-green algae alerts, I switch to town water.

Some locals do drink the water directly from the river in Kosciuszko National Park and some do this all the way to the lakes. Having been sick after a water filter failed in Kosciuszko National Park, I would not recommend doing this!

The water tends to be fairly clear down to about Albury unless it is in flood. This makes it easy to treat the water without having to worry about a clarification step. However, high turbidity can occur anywhere along the river, amd may make it necessary to clarify the water before treating it to make it safe.

The high turbidity is created from sediment being flushed into rivers by erosion from floods or heavy localised rain, as well as following bushfires, or stirred up sediment by carp or powerboats.

Refer to the Safety page for some of the issues related to drinking untreated water.

Refer to the Water Treatment page for various options on how you can clarify and treat water.

Blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria)

Blue-green algae is common in most freshwater systems, but some species are known to produce toxins that make the water unsafe to drink and even unsafe to touch in bad blooms. All of the major Australian rivers will have a risk and the Murray River is no exception. Blooms seem to be most common in the still waters between the Hume Dam and the SA border but they could occur anywhere along the river.

The national algal information line 1800 999 457 for known outbreaks by Water Quality Australia. The MDBA publishes monthly updates of key rivers and WaterNSW has a real-time alert map. Other states seem to delegate reporting to their local councils or provide alerts or signage when needed. None are overly useful for those traversing the entire river though as blooms are rare in SA having decent data from NSW should suffice.

In the event of an algae bloom, switch to town supply! There are no simple ways to remove Cyanobacteria toxins and each species has specific treatment requirements.


In general, outside of prolonged droughts, the salinity levels will be OK. If you do notice the water tasting slightly salty, it could be an indicator that it's time to switch to town water. Recent history suggests no issues along the river except for dry years on Lake Alexandrina as seen from the chart below. It will be freshest at the top of the lake and saltier along the southern reaches, especially if there have been any recent King tides that can wash seawater over the barrages. Lake Albert is usually much saltier. Biggara average salinity is one of the best, but the unusual higher range of values is from the fact that the flow here can get fairly low in dry years. Water from Swampy Plain River ensures a far lower maximum below the confluence.

Salinity is usually measured by either total dissolved solids (TDS) or estimated by electrical conductivity (EC). The latter is the most commonly used measurement in Australia. While water contains a mix of different chemicals, the majority is usually salt.

The recommended maximum intake of sodium is 2,000 milligrams per day, which is equivalent to about 5 grams of salt (1 teaspoon). So if the water is just starting to taste salty (~1,000 mg/L or 1,500 μS/cm @ 25ºC), drinking about 5 L would provide your maximum recommended daily salt limit.

Rough guidelines are shown in the table below:

Palatability TDS (mg/L) EC (μS/cm @ 25ºC)
Good 0 – 600 0 – 940
Fair 600 – 900 940 – 1,400
Poor 900 – 1,200 1,400 – 1,875
Unpalatable 1,200 plus 1,875 plus

Note that 1 mg/L is about 1 parts per million (ppm).

In major Australian cities, TDS values can range from below 100 mg/L to more than 750 mg/L; regional supplies can have TDS values up to 1000 mg/L and some rural and remote communities may have TDS in excess of 1000 mg/L, owing mainly to groundwater characteristics. Ocean salinity ranges from 30,000 and 37,000 mg/L.

Other Factors

High volume flows from mostly alpine catchments minimise many of the other water quality issues. In periods of flooding, you often find high levels of carbon and low levels of oxygen in the water due to decaying organic matter. This by itself is not too much of a concern and the water will have a dark tea like colourisation. However, the low oxygen can cause fish deaths, and in that event, avoid the water completely because of the rotting fish.

Alpine Water Sources

There were few creeks with running water above the Murray, when I passed through the area in the summer of 2019/20 after a prolong dry spell. Starting from the Alpine Way parking spot, I have noted below all of the main primary water sources with distances that I found:

Thredbo River (2.2 km)
After following the river upstream the crossing represents the last water before Cascade Creek.
Cascade Creek (6.5 km)
Decent flow, also accessible from Cascade Hut
Tin Mine Creek (33.9 km)
Decent flow
Murray River (15.8 km)
Slight flow seen from the spring at Cowombat Flat just above the track crossing, it was dry upstream.
Pilot Creek
This had a larger flow than the Murray at Cowombat Flat, ~1.5 km downstream along the Murray.

I managed to also find a few seeps across the track at times, but these were barely flowing. I managed to collect maybe a cup of water every 5 minutes from these. I'm not proud to say it, but I even had to dig for water once when I was severely dehydrated. I got maybe a half cup of polluted looking water that was enough to get me down to the next water source.

Town Supplies

Let us know if any of the listed town water sources are incorrect or if you have found additional sources.

When letting us know about new sources, let us know if it is a tap, Fountain, etc, and simple instructions to find it along with the approximate coordinates.

You can use Google Maps or similar tools to help get the coordinates. A demo using Google Maps for how I got the Renmark Fountain coordinates.

Here is a list of various public water points that are known on the river. This does not include camping grounds, private homes, businesses or shops that will be able to provide additional water points.

  • Torrumbarry Weir (via lockmaster) and Boundary Bend have untreated rain water tanks.
  • Lake Hume Village, Boundary Bend, Morgan, Blanchetown, and Tailem Bend have longer walks.
  • I'd avoid filling via toilet sinks unless you are desparate.
  • are used to denote locations of powerpoints seen along the way if you need a quick charge as you paddle by.
Town(s) Water Source Distance
Thredbo Toilets In park beside skate ramp in Village Green off Friday Drive
Towong None1 14 km
Tintaldra None1 30 km
Jingellic None2 39 km
Lake Hume Village Tap There is a tap beside the Hume Dam Lookout, 375 m detour. 129 km
From Bringenbrong
212 km
Unknown Apex Park (The Pines) beside a boat ramp may have something.
Albury, NSW / Wodonga, VIC Fountain Beside the Mitta Mitta Canoe Club, Albury 29 km
From Bringenbrong
241 km
Fountain Beside picnic shelters, Albury
Fountain Near picnic shelters above the new pontoon, Albury
Howlong, NSW Tap Memorial Park 64 km
Corowa, NSW / Wahgunyah, VIC Tap Tap and powerpoints in shealter, Rowers Park, Corowa 45 km
Tap Tap beside a power pole. Boat ramp and toilets 2 km downstream, Lions Park, Corowa.
Bundalong, VIC Tap Tap beside BBQ shelther near boat ramp. 50 km
Yarrawonga, VIC / Mulwala, NSW Fountain Tap, Fountain and toilet in JW Purtle Reserve and Park. Foodworks nearby. Mulwala3 33 km
Toilets Tap and toilet in Apex Park. Mulwala3
Toilets Tap and toilet, The Owen Bridges Reserve and Boat Ramp. Mulwala3
Toilets Maybe potable? Beside the main bridge. Yarrawonga
For those staying at the caravan park, there is a tap on the way down to the boat ramp.
Cobram, VIC / Barooga, NSW Tap Murray: beside picnic tables at beach downstream of the bridges, Cobram 68 km
Tap Bullanginya Lagoon: beside picnic shealters that have powerpoints, Barooga
Tocumwal, NSW Tap BBQ area over the levy near the pontoon / boat ramp 27 km
Taps Tap around the council run Town Beach Caravan Park4
Barmah, VIC Fountain Beside toilets that also have powerpoints 123 km
Echuca, VIC / Moama, NSW Tap Tree in the Aquatic Reserve beside the Info Centre, Echuca.
Tap key may be required sometimes5.
49 km
Fountain Near the Thong Tree, back upstream slightly. Squeeze up through the moored houseboats, Echuca
Torrumbarry Weir None. You can ask the lock master for some tank water. 82 km
Barham, VIC / Koondrook, NSW Tap Tap by and powerpoints in shealter, Koondrook 104 km
From Echuca
186 km
Fountain Tap on fountain, with powerpoints in nearby pergola and near the pontoon, Barham.
Swan Hill, VIC Tap Outside BBQ shelter near the 10 Steps (has powerpoints) and another just before the bridge. Two of four in Riverside Park. 114 km
Nyah, VIC Tap along fence 46 km
Wood Wood, VIC None 14 km
Tooleybuc, NSW Fountain Fountain beside playground and sink in the cooking area that has powerpoints. 18 km
From Nyah
32 km
Boundary Bend Tap Tank water behind toilets that have powerpoints in Memorial Park.
It's a 500 m walk unless the river is high enough to paddle into Hopcroft Billabong.
92 km
Robinvale Toilets Beside the boat ramp before the camping ground. Seems potable? 89 km
From Tooleybuc
181 km
Tap The Arts Centre across the road from the boat ramp has a tap.
Nangiloc Unknown 142 km
Mildura, VIC / Buronga & Gol Gol, NSW Fountain James King Park, Gol Gol6 77 km
From Robinvale
219 km
Fountain Fountain with tap on the waterfront; Splash park has another fountain; Another in shelter near toilets, Mildura.
This area was being redeveloped in 2023/24. Locations may have changed.
Merbein, VIC Unknown 15 km
Wentworth Fountain Tap beside toilets, powerpoints by most BBQ, Junction Park 37 km
From Mildura
52 km
Tap Tricky tap under handbasin males toilets. Easiest access from boatramp 2 km up the Darling.
Lock 9 Unknown 61 km
Lock 8 Unknown 39 km
Lock 7 Unknown 29 km
Lock 6 Unknown 77 km
Renmark/Paringa Fountain

Fountain beside the Info Centre, Renmark.

Other sources can be found near the Town Fountain () and also near Arthur Shepherd Lions Park ( downstream by boat ramp)7

52 km
From Wentworth
258 km
Tap CHECK: From memory, there was a tap beside the toilet, Bert Dix Park, Paringa.
Berri Fountain North side of the visitor information centre (Riverview Drive) 41 km
Loxton Tap At the four bay BBQ shelter, John Hamilton Memorial Lions Park 37 km
Moorook Tap Tap beside shed at waterfront downstream slightly of the boat ramp. Powerpoints in picnic shelters. 37 km
Kingston On the Murray Unknown 16 km
Waikerie Tap Tap beside large multi-table shelter. 53 km
From Moorook
69 km
Morgan Toilets Along road, just up past camping ground 63 km
Blanchetown Tap RV Dump by park off the river slightly. Below the lock. Track to tap. 45 km
Swan Reach Tap Tap behind toilets in ANZAC park. 28 km
Mannum Fountain Fountain beside toilets. 96 km
Murray Bridge Fountain Fountain. Powerpoints for houseboats moored bear the Bunyip are fairly show charging, maybe try the upstream powerpoints in the shelter at Thiele Reserve . 39 km
Tailem Bend Tap Beside Info Centre. Long walk from the pontoon (850 m).
Water from toilets beside the ferry looked slightly stagnant in 2021
24 km
Wellington None 13 km
Milang Tap Beside BBQ shelter. This is on the western shoreline of Lake Alexandrina. No clean water at Narrung on the eastern shoreline.
Goolwa Tap Fountain near the public toilet on Liverpool Rd From Wellington:
Direct 64 km
Indirect: ~85 km
Tap Freestanding tap and a fountain by the toilets

The locations are shown in the interactive map below:

Town Supply Map

  • Power points
  • Streams
  • Tap or Drinking Fountains
  • Toilets

Information Sources
Locations found using various sources and confirmed personally between 2021 and 2023 unless otherwise indicated:
1 Towong District Council, 2021
2 Snowy Valleys Council, 2021
3 Federation Council, 2021
4 Berrigan Shire Council, 2021
5 Campaspe Shire Council, 2021
6 Wentworth Shire Council, 2021
7 Renmark Paringa Council, 2021

Example Supply Itinerary

On recent trips, I filled up with town water at the following stops:

129 km Albury
Tap beside Canoe Club 50 m
109 km Corowa
Tap in front Rowing Club 30 m
83 km Yarrawonga
Tap caravan park 0 m
95 km Tocumwal
Tap in front of toilets 60 m
171 km Echuca
Tap near Thong Tree, difficult moor 70 m
186 km Food stop?
Koondrook: Tap 20 m (milkbar)
Barham: Tap 95 m (IGA)
114 km Swan Hill
Tap near steps 55 m
46 km Nyah
Tap by fence from boat ramp 125 m
213 km Robinvale
Tap Community Arts Centre 105 m
219 km Mildura
Shelter near toilets 230 m
Splashpark redevelopment around the closer taps
52 km Wentworth
Tap in Junction Park 85 m
258 km Renmark
Tap beside Info Centre 55 m
115 km Moorook
Tap beside shed 20 m
69 km Waikerie
Tap beside shelter 75 m
136 km Swan Reach
Tap ANZAC park 110 m
135 km Murray Bridge
Fountain 25 m
100 km Goolwa