Channel country

Diamantina River

Note, there have been no known trips. Everything is based on water gauge flows and topo maps only.

If you have any additional information, let me know!


The Diamantina River System starts close to the NT / QLD border. It descends south towards Birdsville and Goyder Lagoon before flowing south west to Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre via two distributaries Warburton River and Kallakoopah Creek. This low gradient river passes through some of Australia's most remote arid and semi-arid environments including cutting through the centre of the Sturt Stony Desert at Birdsville. The combined length of the Diamantina and Warburton rivers is just over 1,400 km.

The Georgina–Diamantina catchment is commonly known as the channel country after the multi-channelled nature of the rivers that spread across the inland plains. The rivers are extremely variable and mostly ephemeral in nature, only flowing toward the terminal point at Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre after extremely high rainfall events in the NT / Northern QLD. The terminal point of Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre in SA is below sea level and has only completely filled a few times this century.

The system has an unregulated flow with low water extraction allowance. It will rarely flow outside of la Niña wet seasons and maybe cyclone driven weather events. Other than the extreme remoteness of the system, the main concern if attempting this river in anything other than in a large flood event would be that it doesn't reach the terminal and the flow spreads out over a vast number of channels that can be up to 50 km wide in places. Crocs shouldn't be a concern as it doesn't connect to any other Gulf river that might have crocodiles. The only known croc found was believed to have been dumped into the river around Birdsville back in 2013, a 1 meter freshwater crocodile.

Key Waypoints

  • 0 km


    Elevation 318 m
    Coordinates 21° 58' 8.8" S, 141° 23' 16.4" E
  • 85 km


    Distance between locations 85 km Elevation 203 m Slope 1.35‰
    Coordinates 21° 35' 12.8" S, 141° 55' 32.9" E
    Population 50
    Gauge: Diamantina Lakes, BoM; QLD WMIP

    Sitting on the Landsborough Highway, this is a very small country town with a roadhouse, hotel and caravan park.

    Diamantina Lakes is about half way to Birdsville.

  • 631 km

    Diamantina Dev Rd

    Distance between locations 546 km Elevation 74 m Slope 0.20‰
    Coordinates 24° 49' 57.0" S, 140° 33' 14.4" E
    Gauge: Monkira, BoM

    Monkira Homestead is just upstream 24° 49' 22.9" S, 140° 33' 19.7" E

    1000 channels of a river
  • 848 km


    Distance between locations 217 km Elevation 41 m Slope 0.25‰
    Coordinates 25° 54' 23.8" S, 139° 22' 27.5" E
    Population 140
    Gauge: Birdsville, SA Water

    Centred in the Sturt Stony Desert, this is the only town of merit along the entire length of the river.

  • 1,019 km

    Warburton River

    Distance between locations 171 km Elevation 24 m Slope 0.10‰
    Coordinates 27° 17' 19.3" S, 138° 33' 2.9" E
    Gauge: Poothapoota Water Hole, SA Water

    Terminal distributary channels of the Diamantina River are Warburton River and Kallakoopah Creek. Warburton River is the shorter main channel to Kati Thanda / Lake Eyre.

    Poothapoota Water Hole 27° 4' 46.9" S, 138° 45' 13.0" E

  • 1,405 km

    Kati Thanda / Lake Eyre

    Distance between locations 387 km Elevation -14 m Slope 0.10‰
    Coordinates 27° 55' 0.5" S, 137° 10' 18.1" E

    The mouth is on the northern side of the lake, 215 km flight from Marree, 260 km from Coober Pedy.

    The Lake Eyre Yacht Club keeps a status update for the lake.

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River Map

Key towns along the river are shown below.

  • Kynuna
  • Birdsville
  • Diamantina Terminal
  • Kati Thanda / Lake Eyre

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Distance Table

The distances were calculated by manually digitising the river path from Bing aerial images in QGIS (WGS 84 / UTM Zone 55S).

Distances (KM) Source Kynuna Birdsville Warburton River Kati Thanda Distances (KM)
Source 0 85 848 1019 1405 Source
Kynuna 85 0 763 934 1320 Kynuna
Birdsville 848 763 0 171 558 Birdsville
Warburton River 1019 934 171 0 387 Warburton River
Kati Thanda 1405 1320 558 387 0 Kati Thanda
Distances (KM) Source Kynuna Birdsville Warburton River Kati Thanda Distances (KM)

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There wasn't that much data on the river, but enough to do some basic analysis of the recent flow events. Some key observations:


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A fairly isolated part of the system without much climate data. Gussing it'll be hot and dry with the northern edge subject to the northern moonsonal rains between November to April.

There are only two observation stations with data on the river, Winton in outback Queensland and Birdsville that sits on the Queensland South Australia border. Winton is far enough north to get some of the summer rains, but Birdsville has a hot desert climate with nearly hardly no rain. Birdsville currently holds the record for Queenslands hotest location with 49.5°C recorded on 24 December 1972.

And a more detailed head to head comparison of the two locations:


Mean Temps

Annual: 32.1°C
Monthly low: 8.2 to 23.5°C
Monthly high: 24.4 to 38.2°C

Mean Rainfall

Annual: 412 mm
Monthly min: 0 to 0 mm
Monthly max: 63 to 563 mm


Mean Temps

Annual: 30.5°C
Monthly low: 6.6 to 24.2°C
Monthly high: 20.8 to 38.8°C

Mean Rainfall

Annual: 163 mm
Monthly min: 0 to 0 mm
Monthly max: 57 to 300 mm

Seasonal Wind Roses for Winton (3pm)

These wind roses are based on limited data from early 2022 onwards.

Seasonal Wind Roses for Birdsville (3pm)

Seasonal Wind Roses for Marree (3pm)

Marree is about 100 km SE of Kati Thanda / Lake Eyre.

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It is serviced by a bus route (Greyhound) that runs between Mt Isa and Brisbane 7 days a week. If flying, Cloncury is likely the closest airport.

Road Crossings

There are a limited number of roads between Kynuna and Birdsville including:

152 km Dagworth Rd
Just off the Old Landsborough Highway
158 to 182 km Dicks Ck Rd
Runs parallel to the river from Old Landsborough Highway to Kennedy Dev Rd.
193 km Kennedy Dev Rd
200 to 500 km Diamantina River Rd
Runs parallel to the river but is often offset from the river
305 km Cork Mail Rd
447 km Springvale Rd
513 km Monkira Davenport Rd
631 km Diamantina Dev Rd
781 km Unnamed Rd
Unsealed road between Diamantina and Eyre Dev Rds.


Flying and driving are the only real options.

Road Crossings

Other than the Birdsville track that follows the creek down before the river turns west, there are no major outback roads that go near the river other than the station access tracks for Cowarie and Kalamurina homesteads.

Kati Thanda / Lake Eyre

At the time of writing access onto the water in the lake is restricted.

There are only two routes to the lakeshore. Both are public access routes as defined under the SA Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act. These over private pastoral land that have unimproved and unsurfaced dirt tracks. You do not need to ask permission to the lessee to access these, but keep all gates as you found them and stay well clear of buildings / stock watering points. These two routes are:

Halligan Bay lookout
Passes through Anna Creek Station and terminates at a prominent point which cuts out into the lake to the north of Halligan Bay. Halligan Point is another 10km north. 4WD only
Level Post Bay
Located northwest of Muloorina Homestead, running along the northeast shore of Lake Eyre South, along the Goyder Channel and terminating at Level Post Bay in the Madigan Gulf of Lake Eyre North. 4WD only

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Some of the stations and homesteads that can be found along the river.

There is a higher concentration of homesteads in the upper reaches, only Arizona and those right on the river are listed:

47 km Arizona
The highest homestead on the river, about 5 km from the main channel
104 km Belfast
121 km Etna
135 km Congewoi

All homesteads located that were close to the water are listed from here

164 km Albrighton
173 km Karoola
6 km east from river
182 km Alni
6 km east from river
202 km Elderslie
Slightly upstream on Western River
215 km Owens Creek
6 km east from river
228 km Kalkadoon
249 km Tulmur
299 km Cambeela
307 km Munduran
307 km Old Cork
310 km Narcissus
331 km Verdun Valley
379 km Brighton Downs
407 km Mayne Junction Hotel
455 km Diamantina Lakes
508 km Davenport Downs
629 km Monkira
746 km Durrie
On the eastern branch
814 km Roseberth, QLD
4.6 km off Diamantina Dev Rd
883 km Pandie Pandie, SA
947 km New Alton Downs
1,046 km Clifton Hills
1,193 km Cowarie
6 km SE
1,200 km Kalamurina

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