Murray Mallee
South Australia
Area43,650 km2 (16,853.4 sq mi)[1]
State electorate(s)
Federal division(s)Barker

The Murray Mallee is the grain-growing and sheep-farming area of South Australia. It is bounded to the north and west by the Murray River, called the "River Murray" in South Australia,[note 1] to the east by the Victorian border, and extending about 50 km south of the Mallee Highway.


The Murray Mallee's topography is mainly flat, punctuated with gentle undulating sandy rises
Murray Mallee country in winter

The Murray Mallee area is predominantly a vast plain of low elevation, with sandhills and gentle undulating sandy rises, interspersed by flats. The annual rainfall ranges from approximately 250 mm in the north to 400 mm further south. The area was very lightly populated up until the beginning of the 20th century, with marginal pastoral runs of sheep at low stocking rates. Artesian water was discovered at moderate depth, and railways opened to make shipping of grain feasible.

The first railway was the Pinnaroo line in 1906 from Tailem Bend on the main Melbourne–Adelaide railway. The success of this line led to construction further north of the Brown's Well railway line in 1913. Before that line had been completed, the government approved a number of spur lines from it. These included the Peebinga railway line into the land between the new line and the Pinnaroo line, extending the Brown's Well line north to Paringa, and spurs to Loxton and Waikerie.[3] Another spur, the Moorook railway line opened in 1925.[4] All of these have now closed due to the declining use of railways for grain transport in the area.


The main towns in the mallee are Karoonda, Lameroo and Pinnaroo. Towns along the Murray are generally considered to be in the Riverland or Murraylands, rather than the Mallee.


Originally the Mallee was covered in thick mallee scrub. Large expanses, estimates are around 80%, of the mallee were cleared for agricultural development, beginning as early as the 1880s. Most of the remaining natural vegetation is in protected areas such as Ngarkat Conservation Park, Billiatt Conservation Park, Karte Conservation Park, Peebinga Conservation Park, Bakara Conservation Park and Lowan Conservation Park.


  1. ^ It is customary in South Australia to place "River" first when referring to the two major rivers of the state. The naming principles issued by the Government of South Australia include: ... "'river' should be used as a generic term following the specific name of the feature – e.g. 'Onkaparinga River' – except when referring to the River Torrens or River Murray."[2] South Australians may also place "River" first when referring to the Darling River, the major tributary that joins the Murray in New South Wales.


  1. ^ "A Biological Survey of the Murray Mallee South Australia" (PDF). Environment SA. 2000. p. 2. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Geographical names guidelines". Planning and property. Attorney-General's Department (Government of South Australia). August 2020. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  3. ^ "Railway Extension". The Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 21 December 1912. p. 7. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  4. ^ "The Moorook Railway". The Chronicle. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 12 September 1925. p. 52. Retrieved 29 June 2014.

35°S 140°E / 35°S 140°E / -35; 140