Although the Murray River landscape began forming at least 60 million
years ago (mya), the process sped up 32-12 mya, when global sea levels
rose and a finger of salt water - the Murravian Gulf - extended into
the western half of the Murray Basin. Sea levels waxed and waned from
12 to 2 mya, until the river was dammed south of present-day Swan
Reach by earth movements, creating the giant freshwater lake, bungunnia.
It covered some 33,000 sq. km before breaching about 700,000 years
ago and carving a tract to the ocean.
After ice ages 300,000-150,000 and 55,000-30,000 years ago, a slab
of the Murray Basin floor tilted toward the sea, forming a ridge up
to 12 m high between today's towns of Deniliquin and Echuca.
This eventually diverted the Murray south. Another ice age 25,000-16,000
years ago brought drier connditions. Sea levels fell draamatically,
causing the Murray to gouge deeply into the limestone laid downn by
the Murraavian Gulf to form the Murray Gorge, between Overrland Corner
1824-25 expedition from Sydney to Port Phillip Bay, Victoria,
shows explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell and their party ferrying
supplies across the Murray. They had searched for four days for a
narrow crossing-point and fashioned a boat from wattle boughs covered
with a tarpaulin. In discovering the watercourse they named the Hume
River, the pair were responsible for opening up grazing and farming
land in NSW and Victoria.
- Tourist Information Centre Ph:(03) 5021 4424
Rapid descent. Whitewater rafters
negotiate the notorious Murray Gates in the river's upper reaches,
between Tom Groggin station, 15 km south-west of Mt Kosciuszko, and
the wildly beautiful, a series of shallow salwater lagoons, stretches
for 140 km south-east the Murray's mouth, endearing visitors with
its prolific bird life, fascinating historic sites, and bushwalking
and 4WD tracks.
The Riverland, one of Australia's
most important horticultural regions, a 30,000 ha nursery of citus,
grapevines, stone-fruits and nut orchards
Murray Bridge emerged
as an important centre for trade and milk production.
Mildura, the promises
of agricultural prosperity in the late 1880s. It hasn't disappointed.
One-third of Australia's wine grapes, 90 per cent of our dried vine
fruit and one-third of our citrus is grown in this region.