Sandy dry riverbed

Gascoyne 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 Gascoyne River is a unique river system in Western Australia, flowing intermittently for only around one-third of the year. During much of the remaining time, the river's water flows through sandy aquifers, earning it the nickname "upside-down river." The Gascoyne River is the largest of the three major rivers in Western Australia, stretching approximately 865 kilometers. The Murchison and Fitzroy rivers, both with lengths of 820 km and 733 km, respectively, are the other two longest rivers in the region.

The river has a catchment area of approximately 133,000 square kilometers, encompassing diverse landscapes ranging from semi-arid shrublands to sand dunes and rocky outcrops. Despite its intermittent nature, the river supports a diverse range of flora and fauna, including rare and endemic species that have adapted to its unique conditions. The Gascoyne River is an important resource for the local communities, providing water for agricultural activities, livestock, and wildlife. It plays a crucial role in the cultural and spiritual traditions of the local Indigenous people, who have lived along its banks for thousands of years.

At the northern end of Shark Bay, where the river flows into the ocean, its waters help sustain Carnarvon, an oasis amid an otherwise dry and desolate coastal landscape. These waters are vital to supporting one of the most productive horticultural regions in Western Australia.

The Gascoyne River was named by George Grey in 1839 in honor of Captain Gascoyne.

Key Waypoints

  • 0 km

    Source

    North Branch
    Distance note 116 km length Elevation 682 m Slope 1.13‰
    Coordinates 24° 38' 33.0" S, 119° 43' 23.5" E
    Middle Branch
    Distance note 73 km length Elevation 627 m Slope 1.04‰
    Coordinates 25° 21' 22.7" S, 119° 40' 43.7" E
    South Branch
    Distance note 59 km length Elevation 605 m Slope 0.92‰
    Coordinates 25° 45' 15.8" S, 119° 21' 31.0" E

    All three branches cross the Great Northern Hwy around Kumarina, with the Nth Branch being the longest of the three. Without data I would expect these to be very boom and bust rivers that are more bust than boom.

    Dry riverbed Google Street View

  • 208 km

    Peak Hill

    Distance between locations 208 km Elevation 460 m Slope 0.99‰
    Coordinates 25° 5' 3.1" S, 118° 19' 5.9" E
  • 378 km

    Landor Station

    Distance between locations 170 km Elevation 367 m Slope 0.45‰
    Coordinates 25° 9' 3.6" S, 116° 55' 18.8" E
  • 511 km

    Yinnietharra Station

    Distance between locations 133 km Elevation 280 m Slope 0.51‰
    Coordinates 24° 39' 18.4" S, 116° 10' 3.4" E
    Gauge: Yinnietharra Crossing, BoM; WA Water
    Flood: minor: 3 m, moderate: 4.5 m, major: 5.5 m
    Flow: no flow: 0 m

    Homestead on Cobra-Dairy Creek Rd.

  • 668 km

    Gascoyne Junction

    Distance between locations 157 km Elevation 138 m Slope 1.07‰
    Coordinates 25° 2' 39.0" S, 115° 12' 38.5" E
    Population 150
    Gauge: Jimba, BoM; WA Water
    Flood: minor: 4 m, moderate: 7 m, major: 8 m
    Flow: no flow: 0 m
  • 849 km

    Carnarvon

    Distance between locations 180 km Elevation 0 m Slope 0.88‰
    Coordinates 24° 52' 21.0" S, 113° 37' 17.9" E
    Gauge: Nine Mile Br, BoM; WA Water
    Flood: minor: 4.4 m, moderate: 6.5 m, major: 7.6 m
    Flow: no flow: 0 m

    Flows into the Indian Ocean.

    Dry riverbed Google Street View

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River Map

Key towns along the river are shown below.

  • Peak Hill
  • Landor Station
  • Yinnietharra Station
  • Gascoyne Junction
  • Carnarvon

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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).

Distance (KM) Source Peak Hill Landor Yinnietharra Gascoyne Junction Ocean Distance (KM)
Source 0 208 378 511 668 849 Source
Peak Hill 208 0 170 303 461 641 Peak Hill
Landor 378 170 0 133 290 470.512 Landor
Yinnietharra 511 303 133 0 157 338 Yinnietharra
Gascoyne Junction 668 461 290 157 0 180 Gascoyne Junction
Ocean 849 641 471 338 180 0 Ocean
Distance (KM) Source Peak Hill Landor Yinnietharra Gascoyne Junction Ocean Distance (KM)

Note that the distances were calculated from the longer Nth Branch.

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Climate

A couple graphs on the weather, one at Meekatharra, (closest open station with statistics to the source), and Carnarvon at the source. Since the river flows fairly evenly along the 25th parallel south, I wouldn't expect too much variation along the main stretch of the river other than the coastal influence itself.

For the most accurate weather information that reflects recent weather patterns, I have used a 30-year period between 1991 and 2020 for my statistics whenever possible. In some cases, a smaller subset or even longer-term statistics may also be used. To provide normalized figures that exclude extreme values, I have used deciles ranging from 1 to 9, which excludes the lowest and highest 10% of observations.

Meekatharra

Carnarvon

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Homesteads

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

95 km Three Rivers
208 km Milgun, Peak Hill
304 km Mount Clere
6 km south
378 km Landor Station
338 km Yinnetharra
580 km Weedarrah
658 km Bidgemia
Just upstream of Gascoyne Junction.
676 km Jimba Jimba
Just downstream of Gascoyne Junction.
712 km Mooka
758 km Doorawarrah
830 km Brick House
Marks the start of houses along the river all the way down to the ocean, 18 km away.

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