1956 Murray River flood

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The 1956 Murray River flood involved the rising of waters in the Murray River and flooding of many towns in three states of Australia, including the towns of Colignan, Iraak, Mannum, Murray Bridge, Mildura, Nangiloc, Red Cliffs, Renmark,[1] Wentworth and many others.

The flood occurred due to higher than average rainfalls in Western Queensland and heavy rains in the proceeding three months in Murray catchment areas,[2] peaking at 12.3 metres at Morgan, South Australia.[2] Some areas were flooded up to 100 km from the natural flow of the river.

The flood was and still is considered the biggest flood in the recorded history of the River Murray and described as "the greatest catastrophe in South Australia’s history".[3]

As a result of the flood, the Menindee Lakes were constructed to store high flows from the Darling River.[2]



1956 flood in Mannum

Hotels in the main street of Mannum operated their bars from the second floor with boats tying up to the balcony. The flood water broke the levee bank on 24 August, and had not fully receded until Christmas. To many locals it is common knowledge that the beginning of the roof on the Visitors' Centre in Main Street was the height in Main Street.[4]


Flood markers at Lock 11, Mildura. The second red marking from the top is where the river reached in 1956.

In 2006, historic flood markers were erected at Apex Park and the lawns of the Mildura Rowing Club at Mildura, indicating the height the river reached in 1956. Additional markers are to be erected at various locations along the river from Wentworth to Colignan.[5] Several towns in South Australia also have depth markers showing how high the floodwaters rose.


The New South Wales town of Wentworth, located on the junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers, erected a statue in 1959 in honour of the Fergie TE20 tractor, responsible for helping to erect a levee around the town which kept floodwaters at bay for months. A tractor rally is also held every five years to celebrate the Fergie.[6]


  1. ^ Renmark's Railway Flood Operations 1931 and 1956 Shields, B.P. Australian Railway History, March 2004 pp88-91
  2. ^ a b c Past droughts and floods, Accessed 15 September 2007
  3. ^ "The greatest River Murray flood eclipses 1956 levels". University of South Australia. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2002. 
  4. ^ "1956 Murray Flood". ABC. Archived from the original on 11 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  5. ^ 1956 flood markers in place[dead link], Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 25 October 2006
  6. ^ The 1956 flood of Wentworth[dead link], Mildura Tourism Inc, Accessed 14 September 2007

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