Australia is home to many natural resources, and rivers constitute a significant part of these resources. In a world dominated by saltwater habitats, the significance of freshwater cannot be overemphasised, whether to the thousands of living organisms in those rivers, or the millions that depend on rivers for their survival. There are many beautiful rivers in Australia, and we highlight some of them here.
- The Cooper Creek: This river flows for over 1300 kilometres through Queensland and South Australia. It is one of the major water bodies in the Australian continent and is sometimes called Barco River because of its right tributary. The Cooper Creek is the second-longest inland river system on the continent and one of the three major rivers flowing into Lake Eyre basin.
- Daintree River: This river is home to over 100 crustaceans and 150 fish species. It is a river in a class of its own with the Daintree Rainforest and the Coral Sea all surrounding it, making it the only place in the world where the rainforest and the reefs merge. It flows between Cape of Tribulation and Port Douglas directly into the Coral Sea.
- Murray River: This river has a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Mungo National Park as part of it. It flows through three States of South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria. The length is 2520 kilometres, making it the longest river in the Australian continent. It is the third-longest navigable river in the world and home to the world largest canoe race as well as four dams.
The benefits that rivers offer us are numerous, and some are mentioned briefly. Here so we can fully understand the value of these water bodies.
- Rivers are responsible for 75% drainage of surface water from land, and they function as a drainage channel transporting nutrients from one place to another.
- The freshwater habitats are home to thousands of organisms from plants to fishes to other animals and microorganism. Many other animals also depend on rivers for their survival in terms of food.
- We must also forget that rivers play a major role in water transport, recreation, and overall commerce.
- Rivers are also a major source of energy with many countries relying on hydroelectricity which is, of course, a cleaner and better alternative to fossil fuels.
- Perhaps the most important role rivers play in human lives, or the one that affects all human is food production. From crop production, which relies heavily on irrigation to fishing, rivers are indispensable, and we need them as much as anything to survive.
However, despite the apparent importance of rivers to our lives, it is sad to note that rivers are not safe from all environmental pollution and degradation caused by man, from thermal heating caused by dumping hot water from the manufacturing process directly into the rivers, industrial and domestic pollution, overfishing, etc. Man’s actions threaten rivers, and it is time we understand that these natural resources can be exploited in an eco-friendlier way that will be sustainable now and in the future.