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Lake Victoria - water storage for South Australia in NSW

Welcome to Lake Victoria, NSW

WENTWORTH (near Lake Victoria) guide

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Water storage for South Australia and important Aboriginal site

Lake Victoria is a naturally occuring shallow freshwater Lake, approximately 60 kilometres downstream of the Murray-Darling Junction in south-western New South Wales, (close to the South Australian and New South Wales borders). Lake Victoria is located 70 km west of Wentworth on the Wentworth-Renmark Road. 

Since 1928, Lake Victoria has been operated by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC) as a regulated, off-river storage as part of the River Murray system. The other storages in the River Murray system are Hume Dam, Dartmouth Dam and the Menindee Lakes.

Lake Victoria is managed and operated by the South Australia Water Corporation (SA Water), on behalf of River Murray Water (RMW), an internal business unit of the MDBC. River Murray Water is responsible for the overall management and renewal of the works of the River Murray and Lower Darling system under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.

Lake Victoria was an important centre for traditional Aboriginal people, and remains so for associated Aboriginal people today. The cultural heritage of Lake Victoria is recognised as being of exceptionally high importance to Aboriginal people, and of traditional and historic significance to the broader Australian community at a national level.

Important archeological and culture site

Some geographers and geologists claim the lake is the old course of the river and a giant ‘ox-bow’ of the Murray River. Between 6000 and 20000 years ago a large sand-dune was created on the eastern side of the lake depression. The dune is about 40m high, 16 km in length and up to 1.5 km wide. Within layers of the dune middens, charcoal, mussel shells and marsupial bones have been found and these date back to 16 000 years ago. It is a history book of our geological past. Large numbers of marsupial bones ranging from the giant kangaroo Protemndon brehus and an almost complete skeleton of a Tasmanian Tiger have been found. 

The finds relate to the period when Tasmania was still connected to the mainland some 15 000 years ago and when the Murray River flowed across the extensive continental shelf. Skeletons of Aborigines have also been discovered in the Lake Victoria dunes. In fact, one skeleton was still wearing a widow’s cap made of gypsum. In time the Murray moved south to its present course and Lake Victoria was fed by an anabranch known as Frenchman’s Creek.

Role of Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria plays a critical role in increasing the efficiency in the operation of the River Murray system:

  • provides storage capacity for all water that enters the Murray River below Hume Dam, and the Darling River below Menindee Lakes, or spills from these storages;
  • has a capacity of 680 gigalitres of water which is equal to approximately three months peak entitlement flow to South Australia;
  • is used to balance South Australia's entitlements by storing water in periods of high flow and releasing water when flows are low;
  • re-regulates surplus flow, for example, in summer there may be a reduction in irrigation as a result of thunderstorms and a corresponding increase in river flow, which can be stored in Lake Victoria for supply to South Australia later;
  • migrates against the flow restructions imposed by a narrow section of the Murray known as Barmah Choke (near Echuca);
  • provides a buffer for the dilution of high salinity water in the lower Murray; and
  • provides environmental benefits by managing high river flows to produce a flow that optimises the environmental benefits downstream of the Lake, by enhancing, mitigating or prolonging a flood peak depending upon the particular circumstances at the time.

The operation of the the Lake is based on a number of principles including the harmony of operation between Lake Victoria and Menindee Lakes salinity management guidelines, water storage and re-regulation requirements and management of environmental flows.

This water then left the lake as the Rufus River which re-enters the Murray further downstream. The present lake was formed in 1928 by the construction of a 52 km-long earthen embankment around the original depression and acts as a water-balance storage to ensure water entitlements to South Australia.

Source: Murray-Darling Basin Commission

Renmark (Down River) - Wentworth (Up River)

Wentworth Visitor
Information Centre

Darling Street
Wentworth NSW 2648
Ph: (03) 5027 3624

Renmark Paringa Visitor
Information Centre

84 Murray Ave
Renmark SA 5341
Ph: (08) 8586 6704



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