Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 114 The river system This is what this river means to us we cannot do without it. We care for our land, the Lake Eyre Basin and the Channel Country rivers, and we manage these systems sustainably, generating an income but also looking after the country and its rivers. The rivers flow through inland Queensland to Lake Eyre and South Australia. With their expanding floodplains and adjoining fertile land, they have long been home to Indigenous families, outback settlements, towns and a highly respected cattle and sheep production industry. The big rivers flow south, taking their water from areas with high rainfall into our dry country (Fig. 11.1). Where we live, the Georgina, Burke and Hamilton Rivers join below the town of Boulia to become Eyre Creek. This spreads out into a magnificent expanse of floodplain. Further east, there is the Diamantina River, which flows past my hometown of Birdsville, and the Thomson and Barcoo Rivers join to become Cooper Creek, north of Windorah. In 2006, our country was in the middle of one of our worst droughts in the last hundred years but, during March, Cyclone Larry crossed the coast of Queensland, devastating coastal settlements and agriculture. The cyclone then moved across northern Australia to the Georgina catchment where it rained heavily, producing a mighty river which made its way slowly south. This water gave much needed relief to all the cattle properties and the small towns, including Boulia, all the way to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. This water in the Georgina catchment reached our cattle property in the middle of May and filled Muncoonie Lake in early September. It still had about another 300 km to go to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, filling Fig. 11.1. The incredibly productive floodplains of the Georgina and Diamantina Rivers are the lifeblood for our livestock grazing, with periodic flooding providing boom periods when we can produce prime quality organic beef for export (photo, R. T. Kingsford).
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