TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Research Themes

Types of tropical rivers

People in this Theme

Peter Davies
Project Leader, Theme Leader
Andrew Brooks
Project Leader
Brad Pusey
Project Leader
Mark Kennard
Project Leader
Natalie Stoeckl
Project Leader
Lead Investigator

Types of tropical rivers

The rivers and estuaries across northern Australia can differ substantially between catchments. Differences in rivers - primarily their flow patterns and how they form and evolve - are likely to influence ecosystem processes, the potential types of developments around the river systems, and their responses to development and climate change. 

Due to the vastness of northern Australia and the limited knowledge we have about the region’s tropical rivers, researchers in this theme aimed to develop:

  • A better understanding of the physical attributes of various river systems, and the demographics and economics of local communities in the three focus catchments.
  • A classification system that would allow information about one catchment to be transferred to another, so that knowledge could be applied in areas where little information is available.

Allocating water for environmental flows, testing scenarios, analysing the risks of management options, and planning for the impacts of climate change all need to be based on predicted changes in flow regime.

Flow regime is affected by combinations of climate, catchment geology, topography and vegetation, influencing habitat for aquatic and riparian (streamside) animals and plants, refuge availability, food distribution, movement and migration, reproduction and recruitment.

Streams in northern Australia generally fall into one of two categories: ‘predictable summer highly intermittent’, meaning they stop flowing for 100-200 days/year; and ‘stream with stable summer baseflow’, meaning they keep flowing during the dry season but are fed by groundwater.

During the synthesis and adoption year, the work from Phase 1 research was refined into an online classification engine, the Australian Riverine Landscape Classifier (AURICL).  

AURICL allows users to classify tropical catchments and their rivers based on the similarity or dissimilarity of a wide range of parameters, such as soil type, water availability, topography, or average income and economic activity along the river.

Hosted by Geoscience Australia on the OzCoasts website, AURICL builds on Geoscience’s extensive web GIS system to add catchments to the estuaries and coastline information already available.

Find out more about AURICL or click on the links below to find out more about the earlier projects undertaken in this theme.


Book Chapter
2011 River classification and its application to environmental flow management
Conference Paper
2007 Towards an objective approach for a regional - continental scale geomorphic river classification
Conference Participation
2008 The Delineation of Valley Margins as the basis for a valley confinement index using different resolution DEM data: implications for continental scale river classification approaches.
Corporate Publication
2011 A separate flow regime classification for northern Australia: is it needed?
Fact Sheet
2009 Profile: Moyle River
2009 Profile: Towns River
2009 Profile: Fitzroy River, demographic
2009 Profile: Adelaide River
2009 Profile: Nicholson River & Settlement Creek (Qld part) - demographic
2009 Profile: Holroyd River
2009 Profile: Ord River (WA)
2009 Profile: Wildman River
2009 Profile: Jardine River, Ducie River & Jacky Jacky Creek - demographic
2009 Profile: Darwin/Blackmore Rivers
2009 Profile: Roper River & Towns River - demographic
2009 Profile: Keep River (WA)
2009 Profile: Victoria River, Ord & Keep Rivers (NT part) - demographic
2009 Profile: Limmen Bright River
2009 Profile: Rosie River
2009 Profile: Coleman River, demographic
2009 Profile: Fitzroy River
2009 Profile: McArthur River, Rosie & Limmen Bight Rivers - demographic
2009 Profile: Finniss/Elizabeth/Howard Rivers
2009 Profile: Mornington Island
2009 Profile: Thursday Island
2009 Profile: Finniss River, demographic
2009 Profile: Calvert River
2009 Profile: Moyle & Fitzmaurice Rivers - demographic
2009 Profile: Groote Eylandt River
2009 Profile: Ord River (NT)
2009 Profile: Wenlock River
2009 Profile: Isdell & Lennard Rivers, demographic
2009 Profile: Coleman River
2009 Profile: Robinson River, Calvert River & Settlement Creek - demographic
2009 Profile: Keep River (NT)
2009 Profile: Lennard River
2009 Profile: Roper River
2009 Profile: Cape Leveque Coast, demographic
2009 Profile: Mary & Adelaide Rivers - demographic
2009 Profile: Embley River
2009 Profile: TRACK Region - demographic
2009 Profile: Morning Inlet
2009 Classifying tropical rivers: A new tool for management
2009 Profile: Staaten River
2009 Profile: Embley, Watson, Archer, Holyrood & Wenlock Rivers, demographic
2009 Profile: Archer River
2009 Profile: Mossman River - demographic
2009 Profile: Goyder River
2009 Profile: Norman River
2009 Profile: Watson River
2009 Profile: Groote Eylandt, demographic
2009 Profile: Cape Leveque Coast
2009 Profile: Pentecost & Drysdale Rivers - demographic
2009 Profile: Jardine River
2009 Profile: Leichhardt River
2009 Profile: Robinson River
2009 Profile: Barron River, demographic
2009 A socio-economic snapshot of tropical river catchments
2009 Profile: Leichhardt River - demographic
2009 Profile: East Alligator River
2009 Profile: Torres Strait Islands - demographic
2009 The people of the tropics - now and into the future
2009 Profile: McArthur River
2009 Profile: Settlement Creek (QLD)
2009 Profile: East Alligator, Goomadeer & Liverpool Rivers, demographic
2009 Profile: Blyth River
2009 Profile: Mornington Island - demographic
2009 Profile: Goomadeer River
2009 Profile: Nicholson River (QLD)
2009 Profile: Walker River
2009 Profile: Gilbert River, demographic
2009 Profile: Buckingham River
2009 Profile: Ord River (WA part) & Keep River (WA part) - demographic
2009 Profile: Isdell River
2009 Profile: Koolatong River
2009 Profile: Prince Regent River
2009 Profile: Blyth River, demographic
2009 Profile: Daly River
2009 Profile: King Edward & Prince Regent Rivers - demographic
2009 Profile: Ducie River
2009 Profile: Stuart, Olive Pascoe & Lockhart Rivers - demographic
2009 Profile: Mary River
2009 Profile: Settlement Creek (NT)
2009 Profile: Daly River, demographic
2009 Profile: Flinders River
2009 Profile: Morning Inlet - demographic
2009 Profile: Gilbert River
2009 Profile: Nicholson River (NT)
2009 Profile: Victoria River
2009 Profile: Flinders River, demographic
2009 Profile: Bathurst & Mellville Islands
2009 Profile: Norman & Staaten Rivers - demographic
2009 Profile: Horne Island
2009 Profile: Pentecost River
2009 Profile: Bathurst & Melville Islands, demographic
2009 Profile: Jeannie River, Normanby Rivers & Endeavour Creek - demographic
2009 Profile: Drysdale River
2009 Profile: South Alligator & Wildman Rivers - demographic
2009 Profile: King Edward River
2009 Profile: Walker, Goyde, Buckingham & Koolatong Rivers - demographic
2009 Profile: Liverpool River
2009 Profile: South Alligator River
2009 Profile: Daintree River, demographic
2009 Profile: Mitchell River
2009 Profile: Mitchell River - demographic
2009 Profile: Fitzmaurice River
2008 Classifying river landscapes
2008 Sorting Australian Rivers by ecology and flow
2008 People and the Economy
Journal Article
2013 The great asymmetric divide: An empirical investigation of the link between indigenous and non-indigenous economic systems in Northern Australia
2013 An investigation into some of the distributional and consumptive water demand consequences of development in two Northern Australian catchments.
2013 On the use of socioeconomic typologies for improved integrated management of data-poor regions: explorations from the Australian north
2013 Environmental, spatial and phylogenetic determinants of fish life-history traits and functional composition of Australian rivers
2013 The great asymmetric divide: An empirical investigation of the link between indigenous and non-indigenous economic systems in Northern Australia
2013 Phylogenetic effects on functional traits and life history strategies of Australian freshwater fish
2013 The hydrogeomorphic influences on alluvial gully erosion along the Mitchell River fluvial megafan
2013 Using resident perceptions of values associated with the Australian Tropical Rivers to identify policy and management priorities
2013 On the use of socioeconomic typologies for improved integrated management of data-poor regions: explorations from the Australian north
2012 A framework for hydrologic classification with a review of methodologies and applications in ecohydrology
2011 Fish response to the temporal hierarchy of the natural flow regime in the Daly River, northern Australia
2011 The haves and have nots in Australia's Tropical North - new perspectives on a persisting problem
2010 Comparing Multipliers from Survey and Non-Survey Based IO Models: An Empirical Investigation from Northern Australia
2010 Quantifying uncertainty in estimation of hydrologic metrics for ecohydrological studies.
2010 Classification of natural flow regimes in Australia to support environmental flow management
2010 Widespread omnivory and low temporal and spatial variation in the diet of fishes in a hydrologically variable northern Australian river
2009 Flow regime and ecology
2009 GIS tool instrumental in river research
2012 Resident perceptions of the relative importance of socio-cultural, biodiversity, and commercial values in Australia’s Tropical Rivers
2011 Socio-Economic Activity and Water Use in Australia’s Tropical Rivers: A Case Study in the Mitchell and Daly River Catchments
2009 Ecohydrological regionalisation of Australia: A tool for management and science
2009 Socio-economic profiling of tropical rivers
2009 Demographic Trends and Likely Futures for Australia's Tropical Rivers