User tools

Georgina and Diamantina Rivers region

Diamantina River, 2009. Photo: S Bunn

On average, the ​drainages of the Georgina and the Diamantina Rivers contribute water to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre more often and in greater quantity than the other drainages of the Basin. The combined catchments cover approximately 365,000km2, with the Georgina catchment contributing approximately 205,000km2. Other major rivers include the Sandover, Burke and Hamilton, but there are hundreds of unnamed ephemeral creeks. Average annual rainfall varies from only 100mm in the south up to 400mm in the north.

The Rivers

  • The Georgina River rises near the Queensland/Northern Territory border north-west of Camooweal and flows south and south-west. After the Hamilton enters, the Georgina becomes Eyre Creek, flowing south along the eastern edge of the Simpson Desert to Goyder Lagoon. In total, the main channel is about 1,130km long.
  • From its source in the Finucane Range in central Queensland, the Diamantina River first flows northeast to Kynuna; then turns southwest towards Birdsville, before flowing south to Goyder Lagoon, 800km from its origin.
  • At times of small flows, Goyder Lagoon is the terminus for the Georgina and the Diamantina.
  • All the rivers are ephemeral with short periods of flow following rain and long periods of no flow.

Major flood events

  • After flooding rains, usually in the north of the catchments, waters from the Georgina and the Diamantina Rivers fill Goyder Lagoon and run out as the Warburton Creek to continue on 250km to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre.
  • When 'full', Goyder Lagoon is an extensive wetland of interconnected channels covering over 1,300km².
  • In flood, the Sandover River, which usually dissipates into sandy desert and floodplains, can reach the Georgina across the Northern Territory/Queensland border.

Landscape

  • Five bioregions are represented in the two catchments encompassing a wide range of habitats, such as sandy spinifex-covered plains, scattered shrubs over stony plains, mound springs, limestone or ironstone hills with spinifex or sparse mulga, and the high parallel sand dunes of the Simpson Desert.
  • In south-west Queensland, both rivers travel through typical channel country forming multiple braided channels, floodplains, waterholes and wetlands.
  • Many and varied wetlands occur in the region including waterholes, billabongs, ephemeral lakes, floodplains and lignum swamps.
  • Goyder Lagoon, 150km south of Birdsville, is an important natural feature, which can support thousands of breeding waterbirds. Outside the sub-tropical region, it is one of very few major wetlands with no exotic species.
  • The Elizabeth Springs support the rare and endangered Elizabeth Springs Goby, as well as some aquatic snails that are exclusive to this small, restricted ecosystem.
  • In some locations, town commons and stock routes make an important contribution to biodiversity.

Unusual demographic or land use features

  • Probably fewer than 3,500 permanent residents live in the region, with Winton the biggest town.
  • The major land use is pastoral, but mining represents a major contribution to the economy.
  • Groundwater extraction provides water for domestic and industrial use; unpredictable supply means there is no major surface water licencing.
  • Although the region is remote and sparsely inhabited, with few towns and very few sealed roads, it is an area of unique biological value, as its remoteness means it is relatively undisturbed.
  • There are 12 parks and reserves wholly or partly within the Georgina/Diamantina catchments.

'Famous' places

  • Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways.
  • Diamantina National Park, including the Diamantina Lakes.
  • Boulia, home of the Min Min Centre and Camel Races.
  • The Birdsville Track.
  • Combo Waterhole.
  • Big Red, a 40m high sand dune near Birdsville.