South Esk River

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For similarly named rivers, see River Esk (disambiguation).

The South Esk River is the longest river in Tasmania.[1] It starts in the eastern foothills of the Ben Lomond plateau near Mathinna and arcs around the entire southern promontory of the mountain - passing through Fingal, flowing through Avoca and Evandale before wending its way northwest through Longford and Hadspen. The river finally meets the Meander River and flows through the Cataract Gorge to meet the North Esk River at Launceston.

Aboriginal History of the South Esk River[edit]

The Palawa name for the river was recorded as mangana lienta.[2] This is believed to mean 'river of the black cockatoo' in the language of the North - east Nation; with mangana (also: menugunna/moingnana) meaning 'black cockatoo'[3][4] and liena being 'water'.[5]

The South Esk River passed through, and formed the borders of, the traditional lands of two nations of the Palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal). The Ben Lomond Nation occupied territory enclosed by the river's western and southern stretches and occupied the entire upper reaches as far as its northern watershed.[6] The Panninher, Tyrernotepanner and Leterremairrener clans of the North Midlands Nation occupied the territories to the west of the river. The aboriginal clans exploited the hunting grounds alongside the river and took the native freshwater mussel for food.[7] The river was frequented by aboriginal people and remnants of their campsites and toolmaking have been found along the river. The ethnographic record describes particular meeting areas, or 'resorts', on the river; such as Stony Creek, near Llewellyn; Native Point, near Perth; and at Hadspen, which was called moor.ron.noe.[7][8][9]

The river is dammed at Trevallyn Dam near Launceston as part of the Trevallyn Power Station. The river is constantly subject to flooding and overflows at Lake Trevallyn cause a scenic display of rapids gushing through the Gorge.

The river's two largest tributaries are the Macquarie River and the Meander River, with lesser tributaries being the Nile River, River Tyne, Storys Creek and the Break O'Day River upstream of the junction with the Macquarie River. The Meander River's main tributaries are the Liffey River and Quamby Brook and the Macquarie River's main tributaries are the Lake River, Isis River, Elizabeth River, Blackman River, Tooms River and Tin Dish Rivulet.

The river was renamed by Colonel William Paterson in December 1804 after the eponymous Scottish River.[10]


  1. ^ 1384.6 - Statistics - Tasmania, 2006
  2. ^ Milligan, Joseph (1866). Vocabulary of dialects of Aboriginal tribes of Tasmania. Hobart: James Barnard: Government printer. 
  3. ^ Everett, Jim (2006). Keeping Culture Aboriginal Tasmania. Canberra, ACT: National Museum of Australia. p. 101. 
  4. ^ Plomley, Brian (1976). A Word-list of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Languages. Hobart, Tas: The State of Tasmania. p. 142. 
  5. ^ Plomley, Brian (1976). A Word-list of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Languages. Hobart, Tas: The State of Tasmania. p. 372. 
  6. ^ Ellis, R.C. (January 1984). "Aboriginal Influences on Vegetation in the Northeast Highlands". Tasmanian Naturalist: 7–8. 
  7. ^ a b Kee, Sue (1990). Midlands aboriginal archaeological site survey. Hobart: Dept. of Parks, Wildlife and Heritage. ISBN 0724617388. 
  8. ^ Stancombe, Hawley (1968). Highway in Van Diemen's Land. Glendessary, Western Junction: G. Hawley Stancombe. ISBN 0959929312. 
  9. ^ Plomley, Brian (1992). Tasmanian Aboriginal Place Names (Occasional paper number 3 ed.). Hobart: QVMAG. p. 29. 
  10. ^ Bladen, F. M. (Frank Murcott), ed. (1897), Historical records of New South Wales, Volume 5—King, 1803-1805, Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, p. 497 

Coordinates: 41°27′S 147°07′E / 41.450°S 147.117°E / -41.450; 147.117