Perhaps the most scenic border in the country, the Murray River harbours many secrets in its waters.
Did you know, for example, that an offer by the South Australian Government for a £2000 cash prize for paddle-steamer navigation of its waters went unheeded? Here are four of the most interesting facts about the River Murray that might just change the way you see it.
- The Murray has a mysterious flag
Nobody knows the exact meaning of the mysterious River Murray Flag, which features a union jack next to what is likely the cross of Saint George, above four blue and four white stripes. Some have speculated that the blue and white stripes represent the River Murray, the Darling River, the Lachlan River and the Murrumbidgee – the four rivers that comprise the Murray-Darling system. The flag is said to date as far back as 1850, with its first recorded use of the flag occurring in 1853.
2. The river is the third-longest navigable river in the world
Coming in at third after the Amazon and the Nile, the Murray holds the title of third-longest navigable river in the world. When you consider that the Amazon is more than 6992 kilometres long during the wet season, and that the Nile is more than 6850 kilometres long, this is particularly impressive.
3. Australia’s first female boat captain set sail on the Murray
Raised in the Murray-Darling Basin by the captain of a paddle-steamer, Pearl Wallace became Australia’s first female boat captain when, in 1947, her father William, unable to continue as captain, gave Pearl charge of his steamer.
4. The river was home to two porpoises in 1926
During periods of drought, saltwater is able to flow into the Murray for more than 200 kilometres. In 1926, with it came two ‘porpoises’ – now believed to have been a breed of pygmy whale. They remained living in the Murray for a few months while the river remained salty, but at least one died before it could make it back to the sea. What became of the other remains uncertain.