Barron River (Queensland)

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Barron (Bibhoora)
Barron Falls.jpg
Country Australia
State Queensland
Region Far North Queensland
Source Mount Hypipamee
 - elevation 1,200 m (3,937 ft)
Mouth Smithfield
 - coordinates 16°51′47″S 145°45′40″E / 16.86306°S 145.76111°E / -16.86306; 145.76111Coordinates: 16°51′47″S 145°45′40″E / 16.86306°S 145.76111°E / -16.86306; 145.76111
Length 165 km (103 mi)
Basin 2,138 km2 (825 sq mi)
Location of Barron River river mouth in Queensland

The Barron River is located on the Atherton Tableland inland from Cairns in Northern Queensland, Australia. With its headwater at Lake Tinaroo, it is more than 165 kilometres (103 mi) long and has a catchment area of approximately 2138 km².[2]


The river's original Aboriginal name is Bibhoora. The river gained its current name in 1875 when two police sub-inspectors, Johnstone[3] and Douglas, named it after Thomas Henry Bowman Barron (c1835 – 24 June 1882), chief clerk of police in Brisbane.[4] The European discovery of the river was by James Venture Mulligan in 1874.[citation needed]


The lower reaches of the Barron River have a well-documented history of flooding dating from early last century.[5] Tinaroo Falls Dams has little effect on the mitigation of floods. Both agricultural and residential areas can be affected. A network of rainfall and river height field stations was established in 1995 to provide a flood warning system for the Cairns City Council.[5]

Heavy rain associated with a cyclone early in 1939 caused substantial flooding on the Barron River and resulted in the river changing its course. The mouth of the Barron moved about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) north from Casuarina Point on the northern Cairns esplanade to Ellie Point.[6]

Some of the river's worst flooding occurred in 1950. This was due to a major tropical cyclone following the contour of the Queensland coast for over a week.[citation needed]


Barron Gorge
The reservoir of the Barron River behind the hydro-electro dam above the Barron Falls as viewed from a Skyrail gondola heading to Kuranda station.

Over time, some of the Mitchell River's former headwaters were diverted by natural forces into the Barron. These include the Clohesy River and other tributaries that used to flow northwest to the Gulf of Carpentaria. With the extra water now flowing over the 260 metre high Barron Falls, the steep, narrow Barron Gorge was formed. Much of the water that used to flow over the falls has now been diverted in upstream dams and used to generate electricity at the Barron Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station.[7]

The Barron's headwaters start in the Mount Hypipamee National Park near Mount Hypipamee at an elevation of 1200 m. The river then flows north 65 kilometres (40 mi) across the Atherton Tablelands before finally turning east after Mareeba towards Kuranda. After passing under the Kuranda Range Highway's bridge and through Kuranda proper, it descends down the 260-metre high Barron Falls and reaches the Cairns floodplains near Smithfield. Dinner Falls are located along the upper Barron River.

The mouth of the Barron River is just north of Cairns Airport

The river's catchment area includes the major tributaries flowing into Lake Tinaroo including Kauri, Mazlin, McLean, Maroobi, Peterson and Severin Creeks. It also absorbs most of the major tributaries on the Atherton Tableland, including Emerald Creek, Granite Creek, the Clohesy River and Stoney Creek.[2] This also includes Thomatis Creek, which has only been connected to the Barron since 1932 and has been responsible for diverting part of the flow from the river. Freshwater Creek joins the Barron River below the Gorge and drains Lake Morris and the Lamb and Whitfield Ranges.

Before entering the Pacific Ocean, the river's delta splits into three distributaries, the main river channel, Thomatis/Richters Creek and Redden Creek. During times of flooding two other distributaries also operate – Barr Creek and Half Moon Creek.


The stocking of exotic sports fish into the river has led to a serious decline in the diversity and abundance of native fish.[8]

A total of 63 species of fish have been found in the river, including the glassfish, barred grunter, Snub-nosed Garfish, Fly-specked hardyhead, Mouth almighty, Bigeye Trevally, Goby, Jungle Perch, oxeye herring, eastern rainbowfish, Bony bream, Spotted scat, Giant gudgeon, Freshwater Longtom and Seven-spot Archerfish.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Map of Barron River". Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Water resources – Overview – Queensland – Basin & Surface Water Management Area: Barron River". Australian Natural Resources Atlas. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Archived from the original on 22 June 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  3. ^ "Stratford Heritage Trail". The Stratford and Freshwater Community Association (SAFCA). Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Barron River (entry 1763)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Flood Warning System for the Barron River". Bureau of Meteorology (Australia). Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  6. ^ Johnson, David (2004). The geology of Australia. Cambridge University Press. p. 197. ISBN 0-521-84121-6. 
  7. ^ Shilton, Peter (2005). Natural areas of Queensland. Mount Gravatt, Queensland: Goldpress. p. 45. ISBN 0-9758275-0-2. 
  8. ^ Low, Tim. (2003). The New Nature. Penguin: Sydney. ISBN 0-14-300194-9
  9. ^ "Barron River catchment". Fish Atlas of North Australia. Retrieved 28 June 2015.