As the second-longest river in Australia, the Murrumbidgee is found flowing through many Indigenous lands of the region.
The Murrumbidgee River Corridor borders the river on either side as it flows west-northwesterly for 923 miles.
Why is it famous?
Several explorers traveled on and around the Murrumbidgee River dating back as far as the early 1820s. In 1829 a party led by Charles Sturt took a rowboat down the lower part of the waterway before catching the adjoining Murry River into the sea. They turned around and rowed back upstream later describing where the Murry and Murrumbidgee river meet as a dramatic experience because of the powerful currents. It wasn’t until the 1830s that the land around the Murrumbidgee was settled and discovered to be fertile farmland.
The headwater of the Murrumbidgee River originates at the bottom of Peppercorn Hill along the Long Plain of the Snow Mountains 31 miles north of the city of Kiandra. You can find it flowing through several areas picking up tributaries along the 41 miles through the Australian Capital Territory and Canberra. The Tantangara Dam that was completed in 1960 near the headwaters of the Murrumbidgee sends most of the water into Lake Eucumbene.
You’ll find the Murrumbidgee River located in the area of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory in the Snowy Mountains. Its mouth is at the confluence of the Murray River, and it discharges in three different locations, including Wagga Wagga, Narrandera, and Balranald.
Events in time
When the Murrumbidgee River flooded in 1852, the town of Gundagai that was based along the river was completely swept away. One-third of the town’s population, 89 people, died as a result of the flood. The town later rebuilt at a higher elevation.
The large spring snowmelt and 50% reduction of water flows that occurred after the building of the Tantangara Dam have put the Murrumbidgee River in the news for several decades because of the effects it’s having on the native fish population. Reports by the Murray-Darling Commission from 2008 state that only 13 of the original 22 different species of fish remain and the condition of the river is rated as very poor.
The Murrumbidgee River is an essential part of the ecological, economic, and social components of Australia. With continued loss of water and less flooding occuring, wildlife and trees are being negatively affected. The people of the region are working together diligently to discover the best course of action for keeping the river in its current condition, trying to prevent any further losses.