The headwaters of the river rise in the Chichester Range near Zebra Hill and it flows in a north-westerly direction. The river crosses the North West Coastal Highway south of Karratha then discharges into the Indian Ocean. The river flows through a number of permanent and semi-permanent pools on the way to the coast including Miaree Pool, Toorare Pool and Charrowie Pool.
The river has four tributaries; Four Mile Creek, Cockatoo Creek, Munni Munni Creek and Corringer Creek.
The first European to discover the river was the surveyor and explorer Francis Thomas Gregory during an expedition to the area in 1861. Gregory named the river after another member of the expedition party, volunteer Maitland Brown.