Rivers and creeks

Rivers, creeks, wetlands and floodplains in northern Victoria form part of the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin. There are 6 main river systems and many floodplain sites and wetlands in Victoria’s north that receive water for the environment. These support a vast array of plants and animals in ecosystems that depend on the supply of water.

In Victoria, the river systems that are part of the Murray-Darling Basin include:

Kiewa River

The main channel of the Kiewa River forms on a narrow flood plain at Mount Beauty and flows northwards through farmland in a widening valley towards the River Murray. Learn more about the Kiewa from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Ovens River

The Ovens River rises in the steep, forested mountains of the Great Dividing Range near Mount Hotham and flows about 150 km to join the Murray River in the backwaters of Lake Mulwala Learn more about the Ovens from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Goulburn River

The Goulburn River flows for 570 km from the Great Dividing Range upstream of Woods Point to the Murray River east of Echuca.) Learn more about the Goulburn from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Broken River

The Broken River rises in a forested country south of Benalla and flows for 174 km until it meets the Goulburn River near Shepparton. Learn more about the Broken from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Campaspe River

The Campaspe River rises in the wooded hilly terrain of the Great Dividing Range, descends through undulating foothills and emerges on a riverine plain before it meets the River Murray at Echuca, having travelled 220 km. Learn more about the Campaspe from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Loddon River

The Loddon River rises in the wooded hilly terrain of the Great Dividing Range in south-central Victoria, descends northward through undulating foothills and emerges onto the plains of northern Victoria, having travelled 310 km. Learn more about the Loddon from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Rivers and their tributaries support a range of native plants and animals. For example, the Goulburn River and its tributaries support a range of native fish species such as golden perch (Macquaria ambigua), silver perch (Bidyanus bidyanus), trout cod (Maccullochella macquariensis) and freshwater catfish (Tandanus tandanus). The Goulburn River system is an important conservation area for threatened species and is an iconic heritage river because of its environmental, Aboriginal cultural heritage and recreational values.

Many of the river systems in northern Victoria are connected through infrastructure, often supporting social, recreational, and economic values and uses. For example, the Campaspe River provides water for irrigation and domestic and stock uses. We rely on healthy rivers and water storage for our drinking water, and for other purposes such as farming and industry.

Wetlands and floodplains

Wetlands are a critical component of our environment. Some wetlands are recognised as being of international importance (Ramsar wetlands) and some are considered to be of national importance in Australia and are listed in the Directory of Important Wetlands of Australia. The Ramsar-listed wetlands in the Victorian Murray-Darling Basin are:

  • Barmah Forest
  • Gunbower Forest
  • Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes
  • Kerang Wetlands
  • Lake Albacutya

The size of wetlands in Victoria ranges from thousands of hectares of the floodplain, such as the Barmah and Gunbower Forests, to small wetlands on private and public land.

Wavy marshwort in Gunbower Forest, North Central CMA

Image: Wavy marshwort in Gunbower Forest (credit: North Central CMA).

Wetlands act as sediment traps and filter nutrients from catchments. This helps protect the water quality of rivers, estuaries, and marine areas. Wetlands reduce the impacts of flooding by holding and slowing floodwater.

Wetlands, together with the River Murray and its tributaries, provide habitat to many native plants such as the ancient river red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), river swamp wallaby grass (Amphibromus fluitans) and wavy marshwort (Nymphoides crenata).

Wetlands are also home to many native fish, reptiles, birds, mammals and insects such as the critically endangered Murray hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis), recently rediscovered southern purple spotted gudgeon (Mogurnda adspersa), spotted grass frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis) and platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus).

Waterways in Northern Victoria provide habitat for threatened species such as the Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii) and critically endangered silver perch (Bidyanus bidyanus).

Murray Cod, Arthur Rylah Institute

Image: Murray cod (Credit: Arthur Rylah Institute).

Page last updated: 26/09/22