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Murray River

The Murray River is Australia's longest river, at 2,508 kilometres in length. The Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains, meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria as it flows to the northwest into South Australia, it turns south at Morgan for its final 315 kilometres. The water of the Murray flows through several terminal lakes that fluctuate in salinity including Lake Alexandrina and The Coorong before emptying through the Murray Mouth into the southeastern portion of the Indian Ocean referenced on Australian maps as the Southern Ocean, near Goolwa. Despite discharging considerable volumes of water at times before the advent of large-scale river regulation, the mouth has always been comparatively small and shallow; as of 2010, the Murray River system receives 58 percent of its natural flow. It is Australia's most important irrigated region, it is known as the food bowl of the nation.

The Murray River forms part of the 3,750 km long combined Murray–Darling river system which drains most of inland Victoria, New South Wales, southern Queensland. Overall the catchment area is one-seventh of Australia's total land mass; the Murray carries only a small fraction of the water of comparably-sized rivers in other parts of the world, with a great annual variability of its flow. In its natural state it has been known to dry up during extreme droughts, although, rare, with only two or three instances of this occurring since official record keeping began; the Murray River makes up most of the border between the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales. Where it does, the border is the top of the bank of the Victorian side of the river; this was determined in a 1980 ruling by the High Court of Australia, which settled the question as to which state had jurisdiction in the unlawful death of a man, fishing by the river's edge on the Victorian side of the river. This boundary definition can be ambiguous, since the river changes its course over time, some of the river banks have been modified.

West of the line of longitude 141°E, the river continues as the border between Victoria and South Australia for 11 km, where this is the only stretch where a state border runs down the middle of the river. This was due to a miscalculation during the 1840s, when the border was surveyed. Past this point, the Murray River is within the state of South Australia; the following major settlements are located along the course of the river, with population figures from the 2011 Census: The Murray River support a variety of river life adapted to its vagaries. This includes a variety of native fish such as the famous Murray cod, trout cod, golden perch, Macquarie perch, silver perch, eel-tailed catfish, Australian smelt, western carp gudgeon, other aquatic species like the Murray short-necked turtle, Murray River crayfish, broad-clawed yabbies, the large clawed Macrobrachium shrimp, as well as aquatic species more distributed through southeastern Australia such as common longnecked turtles, common yabbies, the small claw-less paratya shrimp, water rats, platypus.

The Murray River supports fringing corridors and forests of the river red gum. The health of the Murray River has declined since European settlement due to river regulation, much of its aquatic life including native fish are now declining, rare or endangered. Recent extreme droughts have put significant stress on river red gum forests, with mounting concern over their long-term survival; the Murray has flooded on occasion, the most significant of, the flood of 1956, which inundated many towns on the lower Murray and which lasted for up to six months. Introduced fish species such as carp, weather loach, redfin perch, brown trout, rainbow trout have had serious negative effects on native fish, while carp have contributed to environmental degradation of the Murray River and tributaries by destroying aquatic plants and permanently raising turbidity. In some segments of the Murray River, carp have become the only species found. Between 2.5 and 0.5 million years ago the Murray River terminated in a vast freshwater lake called Lake Bungunnia.

Lake Bungunnia was formed by earth movements that blocked the Murray River near Swan Reach during this period. At its maximum extent Lake Bungunnia covered 33,000 km2, extending to near the Menindee Lakes in the north and to near Boundary Bend on the Murray in the south; the draining of Lake Bungunnia occurred 600,000 years ago. Deep clays deposited by the lake. Higher rainfall would have been required to keep such a lake full. A species of Neoceratodus lungfish existed in Lake Bungunnia; the noted Barmah River Red Gum Forests owe their existence to the Cadell Fault. About 25,000 years ago, displacement occurred along the Cadell fault, raising the eastern edge of the fault, which runs north-south, 8 to 12 m above the floodplain; this created a complex series of events. A section of the original Murray River channel immed

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