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Darling River Tributaries

The Murray Darling Basin

The river system that we call the Darling, is more than just the river that bears the name of  the 7th Governor of New South Wales, Sir Ralph Darling, by explorers Charles Sturt and Hamilton Hume in 1828. Their expedition was to track the course of the Macquarie River (named after Governor Macquarie who was the 5th). 

With over ten tributaries, the upper Darling River is a complex waterway made up of many individually named waterways.

The Darling River catchment is made up of the Lower Darling and the Upper or Barwon–Darling.

The Barwon–Darling covers about 13% of the Murray–Darling Basin, but only accounts for about 2.8% of the flow in the Basin; however much more water flows through the system with 99% of its flow is generated via the upstream catchments.

Darling River Tributaries

Darling River Tributaries

The Paroo River Catchment:

The Paroo, an ephemreral river that only flows in wet years, joins the Darling via a series of waterholes, lakes and wetlands and is the last free-flowing rover in the Murray Darling Basin.

  • Catchment area: 3% of the Murray–Darling Basin
  • Contribution to Basin water: 2%
  • Annual stream flow: 445 GL (Calwarro gauge)
  • River length: 600 km
  • Towns:
    • Eulo
    • Hungerford
    • Wanaaring

The Warrego River Catchment:

Sourcing from the Carnarvon Range in Queensland, the ephemeral Warrego River and flows through flat semi-arid plains with 80% of its catchment in Queesland.

  • Catchment area: 7% of the Murray–Darling Basin
  • Contribution to Basin water: < 1%
  • Annual stream flow: 422 GL (Wyandra stream gauging station)
  • River length: 900 km
  • Towns:


    • Charleville
    • Cunnamulla
    • Enngonia

The Condamine–Balonne Rivers Catchment:

One of the largest catchments in the Murray–Darling Basin, the Condamine-Balone catchemnt rivers rise from eleveated areas of the Darling Downs. The Condomine is sourced from the near Mt Superbus in the Main Range National Park near Warwick and becomes the Balonne near Condamine.

The Maranoa, a tributary flowing from the Canarvon Gorge, meets the Balonne at Lake Kajarabie (Beardmore Dam) near St George from which the Culgoe River flows southwest to join the Darling River about 20km east of Bourke.

  • Catchment area: 13% of the Murray–Darling Basin
  • Contribution to Basin water: 8.5%
  • Annual stream flow: 1,305 GL (St George)
  • River length: 1,195 km (Condamine, Balonne and Culgoa channel)
  • Towns:
    • Warwick
    • Toowoomba
    • Dalby
    • Roma
    • St George

Moonie River Catchment

With most of it's catchment (98%) in Queensland, the Moonie River flows across south-west Queensland, through a very flat landscape into northern New South Wales. The Moonie is joined by thirteen minor tributaries before merging with the Barwon River, near Mungindi.

  • Catchment area: 1.4% of the Murray–Darling Basin
  • Contribution to Basin water: 0.8%
  • River length: 542 km
  • Major tributaries: Teelba Creek
  • Towns include: 
    • Moonie
    • Thallon

The Border Rivers Catchment:

The Border Rivers is a group of rivers that straddle the New South Wales and Queensland border, with the rivers rising on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range and running westward, gradually merging with one another to become the Barwon River on the floodplains east of Mungindi; the Barwon River flows past Walgett and Brewarrina before joining the Culgoa to become the Darling east of Bourke.

The major rivers that make up the Border Rivers are: Macintyre River, Dumaresq River and Severn River, with the Moonie River from the Downs joining the Macintyre River near Collarenebri.

  • Catchment area: 4% of the Murray–Darling Basin
  • Contribution to Basin water: 5%
  • Annual stream flow: 130 GL (Macintyre River at Wallangra)
  • Towns:
    • Goondiwindi
    • Stanthorpe
    • Tenterfield
    • Glen Innes
    • Inverell

The Namoi River Catchment:

Stretching westward from the Great Dividing Range, thr Namoi River flows to the floodplains of northern New South Wales via a diverse range of climtes and landscapes ranging from cool, high rainfall areas in the rugged terrain in the east, to semi-arid, low rainfall areas on riverine plains in the west.

  • Catchment area: 4% of the Murray–Darling Basin
  • Contribution to Basin water: 3.2%
  • Annual stream flow: 696 GL (Gunnedah)
  • River length: 700 km
  • Towns:
    • Tamworth
    • Gunnedah
    • Narrabri

Macquarie–Castlereagh Rivers 

Joining the Barwon River between Walgett and Brewarrina, The Macquarie–Castlereagh system (the Castlereagh, the Macquarie and Bogan rivers).

The Macquarie River rises in the Great Dividing Range near Bathurst and flows north-west through foothills and slopes past Wellington and towards Dubbo.

The Castlereagh River rises in the volcanic remnants that shape the Warrumbungle Ranges, west of Coonabarabran in northern New South Wales.

Just before the Macquarie River meets the Barwon River, the Castlereagh River joins the Macquarie River.

The Bogan River rises in the Harvey Ranges near Parkes, in central-west New South Wales, and flows north-west past Nyngan to meet the Barwon River upstream of Bourke.

  • Catchment area: 7% of the Murray–Darling Basin
  • Contribution to Basin water: 8.4%
  • Annual stream flow: 1,175 GL (Macquarie at Dubbo)
  • River lengths:
    • Castlereagh River: 549 km
    • Macquarie River: 960 km
    • Bogan River: 590 km
  • Towns:
    • Coonabarabran
    • Coonamble
    • Bathurst
    • Orange
    • Dubbo
    • Narromine
    • Warren
    • Nyngan