Originally Called the Hume
Australian Town and Country Journal
19 March 1881
The River Murray. The Murray, or, as it was originally called the Hume, is undoubtedly the most important stream in Australia.
All the rivers in the colony of New South Wales, three only excepted, find their sources in the Great Dividing Ranges, and take their course to the sea by the eastern or western watershed.
The three chief streams of the western watershed are the Darling, the Lachlan, and the Murrumbidgee, These unite their waters with those of the Murray at different points.
The Murray flows into Lake Alexandrina in South Australia, and thence into the ocean. The estimated length of the Darling and its effluents is 1160 miles, and the area drained is 198,000 square miles.
The estimated length of the Lachlan is 700 miles, and it drains an area of 27,000 square miles.
This river sweeps round to the west and south west, and finally empties into the Murrumbidgee, flowing in the latter part of its course through vast plains.
The Murrumbidgee, rising in the Muniong Range, after a course of 1350 miles, of which about 500 miles are navigable, falls into the Murray.
It receives the water from an area of 25,000 square miles.
The Murray, which also rises in the Muniong range, not far from the source of the Murrumbidgee, flows westerly through the entire length of New South Wales, and receives almost all its western waters, draining an area of about 270,000 square miles, and attaining a length of 1120 miles before it debouches into Lake Alexandrina.
The average width of the stream is over 2000 feet, and it has an average depth of about 16 feet.
The river is navigable, and thousands of bales of the golden fleece of the splendid pastoral lands on the banks of the Darling, the Lachlan, and the Murrumbidgee, as well as tons of stores and supplies of all kinds, are annually borne upon its waters. The steamers are mostly small, but powerful.
They are, however, fitted with accommodation for passengers, and many of them afford a very comfortable mode of travelling.
The cargo is generally carried in barges of great size, though of light draught.
The wool is sometimes piled up tier upon tier to a great height above the bulwarks of the barges.
In this condition they afford a striking sight, floating down the stream.
The steamers trade as high up as Albury, on the Murray, as Wagga Wagga, on the Murrumbidgee, and Bourke, on the Darling.
There is some doubt as to who really saw the waters of the Murray first; but there is no doubt Hamilton Hume and W. H. Hovell were the first to record the discovery.
In 1824 the two explorers started from Lake George, and crossed the river known as the Murray, but which was then called the Hume, following a south-westerly course.
In 1829 Captain Sturt, of the 39th Regiment, after his successful exploration of the Macquarie, and tracing it through endless swamps to its connection with the Darling, started on another voyage of discovery, seeking the end of the Murrumbidgee.
He commenced his journey in the neighbourhood of what is now known as the town of Wagga Wagga. He traced the river to its debouchure into a magnificent stream 350ft. wide and about 20ft deep, which eventually proved to be the Murray, or as it has been poetically described, "the Antipodean Nile, the prince of Australian rivers."
Sturt, followed the river to Lake Alexandrina, in South Australia; but not being able to find the true channel into the sea, he was obliged to retur
n, after enduring great fatigues, privations, and hardships. He reached Sydney May 25, 1830.
The 2000 miles pull in an open boat, as has been well said, was a very remarkable exploration. Sturt died at Cheltenham, England, June 16, 1869.
On the banks of the Murray, in the immediate neighbourhood of Albury, there stands an old tree which recalls many curious associations.
It bears the inscription, rudely hewn out of the wood, a large disc of bark having been removed to permit of the carving, "Hovell, March 17, '24”.
Near the above described a monument raised to the memory of Hume also stands, and which bears the following inscription:-
“This Monument was erected by the Inhabitants of the Hume River, in honour of Hamilton Hume, ESQ., to commemorate his discovery of this river, on the 17th of November, 1824.”
The view of the River Murray given in this issue is taken very near its rise in the Muniong Ranges, part of the Australian Alps, and the infant stream is still hemmed within the wild lofty ranges of its native home.
The point depicted is near the hills known as the Three Brothers, and is within sight of Mount Kosciusko, the monarch of Australian mountains.