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Murray River timeline from 1951 to 2000 brief history

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The story of Australia's Murray River 1951 to current

60-32 Millions years to 1900
1900 to 1950
1951 to current



Soldier Settlement Irritation Schemes

  • Following World War II, the Loxton Irrigation Area and the Cooltong Division of the Chaffey Area, in the Riverland, South Australia are developed as War Service Land Settlement Schemes
  • In Victoria, the Robinvale Irrigation District in the Sunraysia Region and the Murray Valley Irrigation Area centred on Cobram are established for "Soldier Settlement" immediately after the War
  • Robinvale is the first Irrigation District in Victoria to receive its water totally via pipes, as opposed to open channels
  • Between 1947 and 1956 a number of large holdines in the southern Riverina of New South Wales are sub-divided for Soldier Settlement. The Berriquin Irrigation District is established in the Finley and Berrigan area; the Denimein Irrigation District is established north of Deniliquin; the Deniboota District is established to the south; and further west the Wakook Irrigation District is established. The Tullakook Irrigation Area is established within the Wakool District
  • The Coomealla Irrigation Area in the Sunraysia region of New South Wales is extended for solider settlement.




First Murray tourist boat

  • P.S. Murrumbidgee is converted to become the first boat on the Murray to cater totally for tourists. After being destroyed by fire in 1948, it is replaced by the P.V. Coonawarra.




Work begins on Snowy Mountains Scheme

  • Water to be divered from the Snowy Catchment westward through two transmountain tunnel systems to increase supplies in the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers
  • Hydro-electricity to be generated by the diversion.




Increase in Hume Reservoir storage capacity

  • Work begins to enlarge the Reservoir to a capacity of 2460 gigalitres




Major flood




Relocation of Tallangatta

  • The increase storage capacity of the Hume Reservoir will inundate the Victorian township of Tallangatta. It is to be relocated to a new site at Bolga several kilometres away.




Mannum-Adelaide Pipeline completed

  • Murray water supplements Adelaide supply
  • Lower Murray kept sufficiently fresh by barrages to allow diversion for urban and industrial use.

Hume Reservoir further enlarged

  • Storage capacity to be increased to 3038 gigaletres to accomodate planned winter inflows from the Snowy Mountains Scheme.




Official opening of "new" Tallangatta

  • The new town of Tallangatta is officially opened by Field Marshall Sir William Slim on 29 June. The buildings of the old town have been relocated or replaced with new constructions.

Major Flood

  • Largest flood in the Murray Valley this century, resulting in widespread damage
  • Flood height influences future floodplain planning and development




Private and government irrigation development

  • Private irrigation schemes are developed in South Australia at Golden Heights and Sunlands between Waikerie and Morgan. A private scheme is also established at Greenways, south of Swan Reach
  • Irrigation development takes place at Buronga and Mallee Cliffs in the Sunraysia region of New South Wales. A private irrigation scheme, the Moira scheme, is establsihed between Echuca and Deniliquin.




Hydro-electric power generation

  • Two 25 megawatt generators installed in Hume Dam come into operation. Electricity is supplied to New South Wales and Victoria. Electricity is generated from water released for irrigation and other downstream purposes.




Chowilla Dam site selected

  • Water resources of the Murray are almost fully committed by irrigation development, leaving little flexibility in the operation of the system. A new storage is required to relieve the situation
  • A site is selected for a major sotrage upstream of Renmark, just inside South Australia.




Hume Reservoir enlarged

  • Enlargement works which commenced in 1950 and increased in 1954 are complete. The increased capacity will enable winter inflows from the Snowy Mountains Scheme to be stored and released during the summer and autumn "irrigation season".




Menindee Lakes Agreement

  • Agreement with New South Wales to use water from Menindee Lakes Storage to supplement the Murray.




First Snowy Moutains Scheme water diverted to Upper Murray




Chowilla Dam construction halted

  • Huge increase in original estimated construction cost and concerns about excessive evaporation and salinity problems prevent construction proceeding.

Dartmouth Dam site selected

  • New storage site selected at Dartmouth onthe Mitta Mitta River in North East Victoria.

Morgan-Whyalla Pipeline duplicated

  • Pipeline is duplicated to meet increased water demands by industrial expansion at Whyalla. This pipeline parallels the first apart from the undesea crossing of Spencer Gulf.




Severe Drought

  • Public awareness of the Murray salinity problem emerges
  • Consultants carry out Murray Valley Salinity Investigation for the River Murray Commission.




Lake Mungo Archaeological Discover

  • The Discovery of ancient human skeletons in south-western New South Wales reveal that Aboriginal people had reached the Murray by around 40,000 years ago and that they had perfomed ritual burials involving cremation.

South Australia declares a moratorium on further irrigation development

Menindee Lakes Scheme completed




Swan Reach - Stockwell Pipeline completed

  • Suppliments Warren Reservoir, north of Adelaide. Provided a backup for the Mannum - Adelaide pipeline.


West Corurgan Irrigation Scheme established

  • One of the largest non-government schemes established in Australia. Water is pumped from the Murray downstream of Corowa and distributed west to Mulwala and north as far as Billabong Creek.

Red Cross Murray River Canoe Marathon

  • The first five-day canoe marathon from Yarrawonga to Swan Hill is held between Christmas and New Year.




Tailem Bend - Keith Pipeline completed

  • Serves townships and farms in the Coonalpyn Downs area of south-eastern South Australia including Meningie, Tintinara, Coonalpyn and Keith.




Dartmouth Dam construction commences




Murray Bridge - Onkaparinga Pipeline completed

  • Second pipeline from the Murray supplements Adelaide's water supply.




Major Flood




New Generation of Murray River Tourist boats

  • The modern, all steel, diesel-powered P.V. Murray River Queen is commissioned. The first of a new generation of tourist cruise boats on the Murray River.




Millewa Stock and Domestic Pipeline network completed

  • Water pumped from the Murray at Lock 9 provides the only reliable water supply to the sheep and wheat properties in the 227,000 hectare Millewa area, west of Mildura.

Major Flood




River Survey

  • Murray River is surveyed from Albury to the South Australian border repeating a similar survey carred out over 100 years earlier.




Dartmouth Dam completed

  • Highest dam in Australia (180 metres) and largest capacity (4,000 GL) storage in Murray system (fourth largest in Australia).
  • Supplements Hume storage during dry periods
  • Water available to the system is increased.




Drought...Murray River Mouth closes

  • No water releases from the barrages and washed into the outlet channel fro the sea, closes the Murray Mouth for the first time in recored history. Mouth re-opened by earthmoving machinery.




River Murray Commission role expanded

  • River Murray Waters Agreement is amended
  • Water quality, environmental and recreational issues can be officially considered for the first time in the operation of the Murray River
  • Representations can be made to Governments on any matter which may affect the quantity or quality of Murray water.




Severe Drought

  • Worst drought on record in the Murray Valley
  • Dust storms in Melbourne create public awareness of the severity of the drought and the need to better manage our natural resources.


1983 & 1989


'All the Rivers Run' filmed in Echuca

  • Sigrid Thornton and John Waters star in 'All the Rivers Run' the mini-series.




Murray-Darling Basin Ministrial Council established

  • To promote improved planning and integrated management of the land, water and environmental resources of the Murray-Darling Basin.




Murray-Darling Basin Commission succeeds River Murray Commission

  • River Murray Waters Agreement replaced by Murray-Darling Basin Agreement
  • New Commission to advise Ministerial Council on land and environmental matters in the Basin in addition to its traditional role of managing and distributing the waters of the Murray to the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.




Statements on the environment

  • Prime Minister Bob Hawke, launches an Australia-wide environmental management strategy at Wentworth at the convergence of the Murray-Darling rivers
  • Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Strategy launched.

First interstate Environmental Agreement

  • Salinity and Drainage Strategy finalised between New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and the Commonwealth. The Strategy aims to manage the salinity and drainage problems in the Murray Basin. This involves a combination of land management, on-farm improvements, engineering schemes, crop developments, and the modification of river operations.




'River Kings' filmed in South Australia

  • P.S. Industry was restored and featured in the film, 'River Kings' in Renmark.




Murray River National Park established in South Australia

Murray-Sunset National Park established in north-western Victoria

Graham Middleton swims the Murray River

Celebrity chef Stefano De Pieri Murray River ambassador settles in Mildura




Major blue-green algae outbreak




Severe Drought

  • Long El Nino event causes severe drought.




Tammy van Weiss swims the Murray River in record time

  • Tammy van Weiss breaks Graham Middleton's 1991 River Murray Swim record of 138 days. She has taken an amazing 35 days off his world record.




Severe drought

  • Worst drought on record in the Murray Valley with lowest inflows in recorded history into the Murray River.




$10 billion Basin plan

  • Prime Minister John Howard announces plan for Murray-Darling River system seeking support from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian and the ACT governments. Plan requires Constitutional changes. Passing of the Water Act (2007) in Federal Parliament.

Murray-Darling Basin Authority established

  • The Authority was established under the Water Act (2007) which was introduced under the Howard Government as part of the National Water Plan for Water Security.

Victorian pipeline approved from Eildon Dam to Melbourne

  • $750 million north-south pipeline aims to provide 75 billion litres of water for Melbourne through water saved from irrigation upgrades in the Murray-Goulburn food bowl.




Low water entitlements for irrigators due to drought

  • Allocations for South Australian irrigators increased from 11% to 15% in November 2008
  • Murray and Goulburn Valleys from 17% to 19%




Guide to the Proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan released

  • Plan aims to address over allocation of water entitlements in the Murray-Darling Basin and plans to restore 3,000 to 4,000 GL for environmental flows per annum.

Melbourne's north-south pipeline completed from the Goulburn River / Eildon Dam




Major Floods

  • La Nina system causes major flooding
  • Combination of floods in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales causes flooding in Kerang, Swan Hill and smaller communities near the Murray River in Victoria
  • High river peak in South Australia as backwaters revived after 5 years of drought.
  • Major Blackwater event




Murray Darling Basin Plan

  • August - the start of the period allowed for Commonwealth Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Hon Tony Burke MP, to provide comment on the proposed Basin Plan. All other state or community views are closed.
  • October - Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces extra $1.77 billion over 10 years, securing a further 450GL of water through on-farm irrigation efficiencies by 2024.




Murray Darling Basin States Agreement

  • Signing the Intergovernmental Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray–Darling Basin, the premiers of New South Wales and Queensland had added their strength to that of Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory as the Basin Plan for a Basin-wide perspective.

First reverse Murray River navigation

  • Chris Heyward the first person to navigate the Murray from Sea (Goolwa to the Source) both by kayak to the Hume and by foot to the source




High River and Minor Floods

  • A wet spring caused flooding in the Lachlan River, rain bands along the East Coast of Australia and storm front in South Australia has seen higher river levels along the Murray.


60-32 Millions years to 1900



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