1902 Encyclopedia > Murray River

Murray River

MURRAY RIVER, the largest river in Australia, rises in the Australian Alps about 36º 40´ S. lat. and 147º E. long., and, flowing north-westwards, skirts the borders of New South Wales and Victoria until it passes into South Australia, shortly after which it bends southwards into Lake Alexandrina, a shallow lagoon, whence it makes its way to the sea at Encounter Bay by a narrow opening at 35º 35´ S. lat. 138º 55´ E. long. Near its source, the Murray Gates, precipitous rocks, tower sheer above it to the height of 3000 feet; and the earlier part of its course is very tortuous, broken, and uneven. Farther on it in some parts loses so much by evaporation as to become merely a series of pools. Its length till it debouches into Lake Alexandrina is 1120 miles, its average breadth in summer is 240 feet, its average depth about 16; and it drains an area of about 270,000 square miles. For small steamers it is navigable as far as Albury. Periodically it overflow its banks, causing wide inundations. Operations have lately been undertaken to render its mouth accessible for ships ; but owing to the force of the southern ocean, navigation is difficult and dangerous. The principal tributaries of the Murray are those from New South Wales, including the Edward river, the united streams of the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan, and the Darling or Callewatta. It was in 1829 that Captain Sturt traced the Murrumbidgee river till it debounched in a magnificent stream 300 feet wide. This steam, the Murray river, he followed down to Lake Alexandrina, but was compelled, after enduring great hardships, to return without discovering its outlet to the sea. In 1831 Captain Barker, while attempting to discover its outlet, was murdered by the natives. In 1836 the discovery was made by Major Mitchell that the Darling flowed into the Murray. (See AUSTRALIA, vol. iii. pp. 105, 107.)

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