The Murray River (River Murray in South Australia) is Australia’s longest river. At 2,508 kilometres (1,558 mi) in length, the Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia’s highest mountains and, for most of its length, meanders across Australia’s inland plains, forming the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria as it flows to the northwest, before turning south for its final 500 kilometres (310 mi) or so into South Australia, reaching the ocean at Lake Alexandrina.
The water of the Murray flows through several lakes that fluctuate in salinity (and were often fresh until recent decades) including Lake Alexandrina and The Coorong before emptying through the Murray Mouth into the southeastern portion of the Indian Ocean, often referenced on Australian maps as the Southern Ocean, near Goolwa. Despite discharging considerable volumes of water at times, particularly before the advent of largescale river regulation, the Mouth has always been comparatively small and shallow.
As of 2010, the Murray River system receives 58 percent of its natural flow. It is perhaps Australia’s most important irrigated region, and it is widely known as the food bowl of the nation.