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Fitzroy River (Western Australia): Map

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The Fitzroy River is located in the West Kimberleymarker region of Western Australiamarker.

Discovery

The Fitzroy River was discovered by the West in 1837 by George Grey in the H.M.S. Beagle. The river was subsequently named by Lt J L Stokes on 26/2/1838 after Captain Robert FitzRoy R.N. The Fitzroy River flows for from the King Leopoldmarker and Mueller Ranges into King Soundmarker south of Derbymarker, and has a catchment area of

Physiography

The surrounding area is also known as the Fitzroy Valley and is a distinct physiographic section of the larger Canning Basin province, which in turn is part of the larger West Australian Shield division.

Tributaries

The Fitzroy has 20 tributaries including Margaret Rivermarker, Christmas Creek, Hann Rivermarker, Sandy Creek, Geegully Creek, Little Fitzroy River, Collis Creek, Adcock Rivermarker, Cunninghame River, Yeeda River, Mudjalla Gully and Minnie River.

Flooding

Extensive flooding during the wet season created a need for an adequate crossing. It was because of this that the town of Fitzroy Crossingmarker was founded. When it floods the Fitzroy River is an awesome sight. In 1935, the Fitzroy got its first bridge - a low level concrete structure, which was built up into a wider structure in 1958. This bridge could be closed for several months at a time during the wet weather and travellers were then forced to use a flying fox, which operated about 200 metres south of the crossing. When a new bridge was erected in 1974, the focus of the town grew away from its original site. The current town of Fitzroy Crossingmarker is one of the fastest growing in the Kimberleymarker region.

Record floods occurred in 1983, 1986 and 2002 with approximately 13 metres of water over the old concrete crossing. The flow rate down the 15 kilometre wide flood plain at Fitzroy Crossing was estimated to be 30,000 cubic metres per second. In flood, it is probably the largest river in Australia.

Damming of the Fitzroy

One channel of the Fitzroy River, looking north from Willare Bridge, dry season 2006
The Fitzroy River was diverted in the 1950s as part of the failed Camballin Irrigation Scheme to store the water to irrigate crops of cotton, sorghum and other feed crops.

This part of the river covers an area of 12ha when full.

There have been other proposals over time to dam the river at Dimond Gorge.

In April 2007 W.A. opposition leader Colin Barnett announced plans to dam the river, should he become elected, in order to provide a water source for a new irrigation venture to replace the Murray-Darling Basin which has experienced significant water shortages as a result of the drought. His 20 year plan also included piping the water further south as an additional source for the Perthmarker Integrated Water Supply Scheme.

References



Further reading

  • History of the flooding of the Fitzroy River Boab babbler, 12 March 1993, p.25


External links




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