Naming the Murray River

Australian Town and Country Journal

9 September 1882


A few months after the return of Captain Sturt from the expedition in which he discovered the Darling, it was determined he should follow up the task which he had so successfully commenced by endeavouring to penetrate the interior to the south- west, by means of the Murrumbidgee or the other considerable streams discovered by Messrs. Hovell and Hume.

This second expedition started from Sydney November 3, 1829. Several of the men who were with Captain Sturt on his first expedition accompanied him on this occasion, but the place of Mr. Hume, his former second in command, was now supplied by Mr. George Macleay, son of Mr. Alexander Macleay, the then Colonial Secretary.

The party reached the border of Lake George on the 18th November. From thence continued their route to the Murrumbidgee by way of Yass Plains and the Tumut.

They found the river abounding in fish, and the scenery on the banks of the most beautiful description.

They proceeded down the river, and about 15 miles from the place where they had embarked came upon the junction of the Lachlan. Soon after they found the stream decrease in width, while it increased in depth and velocity, and became so thickly overshadowed by trees, and so much impeded by fallen timber, that they were in momentary apprehension of danger.

At the period, however, when these gloomy forebodings had reached the greatest height, they were suddenly surprised and delighted by their boat shooting out into a deep, broad, noble river, 350ft in width.

They had discovered the Mississippi of Australia, the great river, which, having its sources amid the snow-clad summits of the Australian Alps, carries its waters in a steady and constant volume to the far off Pacific.

They named it the Murray after Sir George Murray, the then Minister for the colonies. It is singular that the native name of this river was afterwards found to be very similar to that given to it by Captain Sturt.

It was called by the aborigines the Murrewa, or the Millewa, the sounds of r and l being interchangeable, and used almost indifferently by many of the aboriginal tribes.