The 10 Most Beautiful Rivers in Australia

River Derwent from Mount Wellington
River Derwent from Mount Wellington | © Hayley Simpson
Photo of Hayley Simpson
Writer17 April 2018

Although Australia is renowned for having some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, they shouldn’t get all the credit. You see, there are also spectacular rivers and lakes scattered across the country. Keep reading to discover Australia’s 10 most beautiful rivers.

Ord River

Located in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, the Ord River is 320 kilometres (200 miles) long. The main town on the Ord River is Kununurra, the Kimberley’s youngest town and the centre for the Ord River Irrigation Scheme. Established in the 1960s, this scheme led to the development of Lake Argyle and 14,000 hectares of agricultural land. Lake Argyle is one of the area’s major tourist attractions. It was completed in 1972 and is Australia’s largest artificial lake by volume.

Flying over the Ord River | © Jon Connell / Flickr

Yarra River

Melbourne was built on the banks of the Yarra River, which flows for 242 kilometres (150 miles) through the Yarra Valley to Port Phillip. Historically, the Yarra River was an important food source and meeting place for Indigenous Australians. Today, the mouth of the Yarra River is the Port of Melbourne’s container shipment area—the busiest in Australia. Cruise along the Yarra River to Williamstown, dine on the river at Ponyfish Island, or walk beside it and see sights like the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Yarra River flowing through Melbourne's CBD | © Hayley Simpson

Daintree River

The Daintree River is located within the Wet Tropics of Queensland, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The river flows into the Coral Sea between Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. The Daintree River is home to an ecosystem that includes 150 fish species, 100 crustaceans, and saltwater crocodiles. It’s also one of the world’s most densely populated mangrove estuaries. 30 of Australia’s 38 mangrove species can be located on the Daintree River. It’s also one of the only places in the world where the rainforest meets the reef.

Cruising along the Daintree River | © Brian Jeffery Beggerly / Flickr

Swan River

Winding its way through Perth and flowing into the Indian Ocean at Fremantle, the Swan River is one of the city’s top attractions. The Avon, Canning and Helena Rivers are its three main tributaries. There are several walking trails that follow the Swan River, and tour companies that offer cruises along it as well. Some of the notable stops to visit along the Swan River include Elizabeth Quay, Fremantle Harbour, the Swan Valley, Matilda Bay, and Alfred Cove.

Nighttime on the Swan River | © David Eastwell / Flickr

Murray River

We had to feature Australia’s longest river, which flows for 2,520 kilometres (1,566 miles) through South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. The Murray River is the world’s third longest navigable river, following the Amazon and the Nile. It is home to four dams, 16 storage weirs, 15 navigable locks, and 37 golf courses along its banks. Top things to do along the Murray River include a paddle steamer cruise, exploring the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mungo National Park, and visiting the native art collection at Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery.

Emmylou, a paddlesteamer on the Murray River | © Bernard Spragg NZ / Flickr

Katherine River

Katherine River begins in Kakadu National Park and flows into Nitmiluk National Park, near Katherine in the Northern Territory. The main point of interest along the Katherine River are the red sandstone cliffs of Katherine Gorge. It took the river some 23 million years to carve the gorge, which is a major Northern Territory tourist attraction. There are tour companies offering cruises, canoe packages, and scenic helicopter flights, so you can see the beauty of the Katherine River from every angle.

Katherine River, flowing through Nitmiluk National Park | © Ian Diversi / Flickr

Gordon River

Located in Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Gordon River is defined by its remote and rugged gorges and landscape, which were shaped by ancient glaciers. Daily cruises depart from Strahan, to take in the river’s densely forested banks, which are often perfectly reflected in the water. In the summertime, people also raft and canoe along the Gordon River. As it’s part of Tasmania’s World Heritage area, the Gordon River will fortunately remain beautifully preserved for decades to come.

Gordon River reflections | © Jonny / Flickr

Noosa River

Noosa River begins in the Great Sandy National Park, before entering the Pacific Ocean at Noosa. There are several lakes on the river, as well as two main tributaries: Kin Kin and Teewah Creeks. The town of Noosaville on the Sunshine Coast is centred around the beautiful Noosa River. Locals and visitors alike spend their time dining on the riverfront, or swimming in its calm waters. There are cruises and watersports hire available on the Noosa River too. Furthermore, there are canals located off the river, where the area’s most luxurious homes are located.

Sunrise on Noosa River | © Bernard Spragg NZ / Flickr

River Derwent

The River Derwent begins at Lake St Clair in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. It then descends 700 metres (2,300 feet) over 200 kilometres (120 miles), where it flows through Hobart. From the Tasmanian capital, the River Derwent flows into Storm Bay and the Tasman Sea. Traditionally, the Derwent river banks were covered in forests and home to Indigenous Australians. In the 20th century, several dams were built on the River Derwent’s tributaries for hydro-electricity.

River Derwent from Mount Wellington | © Hayley Simpson

Clyde River

The Clyde River and its sources are nearly all contained within protected, uninhabited national parks on New South Wales’ south coast. This means its water is considered to be extremely pure. Its mouth is located at Batemans Bay, where it flows into the Tasman Sea. The Clyde River is known for its cruises, houseboat rentals, fishing and oyster industry.

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