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The Darling River is the fourth longest river in Australia, measuring from its source in northern New South Walesmarker to its confluence with the Murray Rivermarker at Wentworthmarker, New South Wales. Including its longest contiguous tributaries it is long, making it the longest river system in Australia.

Officially the Darling begins near Brewarrinamarker at the confluence of the Culgoa and Barwon rivers, streams which rise in the ranges of southern Queenslandmarker. The whole Murray-Darling river system, one of the largest in the world, drains all of New South Wales west of the Great Dividing Rangemarker, much of northern Victoriamarker and southern Queenslandmarker and parts of South Australiamarker.

The Queensland headwaters of the Darling (the area now known as the Darling Downs) were gradually colonised from 1815 onward. In 1828 the explorer Charles Sturt was sent by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Ralph Darling, to investigate the course of the Macquarie River. He discovered the Bogan River and then, early in 1829, the upper Darling, which he named after the Governor. In 1835 Major Thomas Mitchell travelled the whole length of the Darling, confirming Sturt's earlier discovery that it was a tributary of the Murray.

Although its flow is extraordinarily irregular (the river dried up on no fewer than forty-five occasions between 1885 and 1960), in the later 19th century the Darling became a major transportation route, the pastoralists of western New South Wales using it to send their wool by shallow-draft paddle steamer from busy river ports such as Bourkemarker and Wilcanniamarker to the South Australian railheads at Morganmarker and Murray Bridgemarker. But over the past century the river's importance as a transportation route has declined. In this period the Australian poet Henry Lawson wrote a well-known ironic tribute to the Darling River.

Today the Darling is in poor health, suffering from overuse of its waters, pollution from pesticide runoff and prolonged drought. In some years it barely flows at all. The river has a high salt content and declining water quality. To quote another Henry Lawson poem:


Image:La confluence du Murray et du Darling à Wentworth.JPG|Confluence of the Darling with the Murray Rivermarker at Wentworth, New South WalesmarkerImage:Le Darling à Wentworth (vue vers l'amont).JPG|Darling River at Wentworth, New South WalesmarkerImage:Darling River Pooncarie.jpg|Darling River at Pooncariemarker, river height 1.5 metresImage:Darling River Menindee.JPG|Darling River at MenindeemarkerImage:Darling River Wilcannia 2005-11-30.JPG|Darling River at Wilcanniamarker in November, 2005Image:Darling River Louth.JPG|Darling River at Louthmarker

See also

Major tributaries

Population Centres


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