A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...
. At 2375 kilometres (1,476 mi) in length, the Murray rises in the Australian Alps
The Australian Alps are the highest mountain ranges of mainland Australia. They are located in southeastern Australia and straddle the Australian Capital Territory, south-eastern New South Wales and eastern Victoria...
, 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 New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....
as it flows to the northwest, before turning south for its final 500 kilometres (310.7 mi) or so into South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...
, reaching the ocean at Lake Alexandrina.
The water of the Murray flows through several lakes that fluctuate in salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...
(and were often fresh until recent decades) including Lake Alexandrina and The Coorong
Coorong National Park
The Coorong is a national park and lagoon ecosystem in South Australia , 156 km southeast of Adelaide. Its name is thought to be a corruption of the local Aboriginal people's word kurangh, meaning "long neck"; a reference to the shape of the lagoon system...
before emptying through the Murray Mouth
Murray Mouth is the point at which the River Murray meets the southern Southern Ocean. The Murray Mouth's location is changeable. Historical records show that the channel out to sea moves along the sand dunes over time...
into the southeastern portion of the Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...
, often referenced on Australian maps as the Southern Ocean
The Southern Ocean comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60°S latitude and encircling Antarctica. It is usually regarded as the fourth-largest of the five principal oceanic divisions...
, near Goolwa
Goolwa, South Australia
Goolwa is a historic river port on the Murray River near the Murray Mouth in South Australia, and joined by a bridge to Hindmarsh Island. The name "Goolwa" means "elbow" in Ngarrindjeri, the local Aboriginal language....