The Gregory River

One of the few flowing rivers in Australia, the Gregory River rises from underground limestone springs close to the Northern Territory border, 50 kilometres east of Camooweal and eventually joins the Nicholson River to flow into the Gulf of Carpentaria near Burketown.

With a catchment area of some 12,690 square kilometres the mean flow rate is around 55,348 megalitres per month or 1,819 megalitres per day

The crystal clear running water is fringed with Pandanus palms, Livingstona palms, paperbark trees, fig trees, and a variety of other flora which form a picturesque oasis in the surrounding hills and open plains.

Today the Gregory River is well known for the canoe race held on the May Day weekend as well as the annual Gregory Downs Jockey Club Race Meeting, held on the same weekend, and provides a great camping spot for travellers on the way to the picturesque Lawn Hill Gorge and Boodjamulla National Park.

In October 1876 three Watson brothers left from “Walwa” on the Upper Murray in Victoria, following a survey trip by Greg, one of the brothers, in 1875, to settle on the Gregory River at “Gregory Downs” some 120 kilometres south of Burketown, arriving in August 1877.

Two of the brothers, Harry Frederick and Philip Sidney were twins aged only 19 at the time and the youngest Robert McGregor (Greg or Greggy) Watson was only 17 years of age.

When they arrived, a family friend, who travelled with them and was to be a partner, returned immediately to Victoria and sold his share leaving the three Watson boys to “sink or swim”

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