The Burdekin River in Queensland, Australia rises on the western slope of the Seaview Range and flows into the Pacific Ocean at Upstart Bay over 200 km to the southeast of the source. The river was first encountered by Europeans during the expedition led by Ludwig Leichhardt in 1845 and named for Mrs. Thomas Burdekin, who had provided assistance to the expedition.
Apart from the Murray River, it is economically the most important river in Australia, and has the fourth-largest watershed of any exorheic drainage system in Australia. It is also the fourth-largest river in Australia by volume of flow, but is so erratic that its discharge can reach the mean discharge of the Yangtze (after two severe cyclones in 1958) or have as many as seven months with no flow whatsoever (as in 1923). This exceedingly erratic flow is due to the extreme variability of precipitation throughout the entire basin. Annual rainfall at most gauges within the basin can range from 200 mm (8 inches) to over 1,600 mm (64 inches) depending on the monsoon and the number of cyclones that cross the coast. On the coast itself, the variability is even higher: at Bowen not far from the river’s mouth, the annual rainfall has ranged from 216mm in 1915 to over 2,200mm in 1950.