Rivers in Western Australia
The term 'river' is used to describe channels in which water can flow, this includes creeks, streams and brooks.
Western Australia has 208 major rivers, extending over more than 25 000 km (The importance of Western Australia's waterways, DoE‑WA, 2004).
The characteristics of the river systems vary from region to region due to the different landscapes and climatic conditions across Western Australia:
- Rivers in the south-west of the state are generally seasonal, with flows responding to winter rainfall. In some cases groundwater also contributes to river flows (see Surface and groundwater interaction for more information).
- Rivers in the north of the state are also seasonal, but have greater differences in flow between one year and the next. In other parts of the state rivers are generally ephemeral (flowing very infrequently and only for short periods of time following heavy rain).
- Desert landscapes cover over half of Western Australia – these areas typically have no freshwater flow .
For further information about the characteristics of rivers in Western Australia see The importance of WAs waterways and Water resources inventory 2014.
A large number of waterways in Western Australia are recognised as having significant value, both nationally and internationally – see WA's high value waterways. This includes 48 wild rivers –these are largely unchanged natural systems where biological, ecological and hydrological processes continue without significant disturbance ( see Water Note 37: Wild rivers).