This brochure describes the flood
warning system operated by the Australian
Government, Bureau of Meteorology for the Diamantina River. It includes
reference information which
will be useful for understanding Flood Warnings and River Height
Bulletins issued by the Bureau's
Flood Warning Center during periods of high rainfall and flooding.
The vast Diamantina River catchment is located in south west Queensland and covers an area of approximately 119,000 square kilometres. The river rises in the Swords Range, 70 kilometres southwest of Kynuna and flows initially in a north and easterly direction before changing to a southwesterly direction 70 kilometres west of Winton. Major tributaries joining the river are the Western and Mayne Rivers above Diamantina Lakes and Farrars Creek below Monkira. The river does not have a well defined main channel but consists generally of a series of wide, relatively shallow channels. The river passes through the town of Birdsville before crossing the Queensland-South Australia border 10 kilometres south of Birdsville. Floods normally develop in the headwaters of the Diamantina River and in its major tributaries, however, flooding may result from heavy rainfall falling in the middle to lower reaches of the catchment around Diamantina Lakes. Local area rainfalls can be a significant factor throughout these areas.
The main impact of the record major flooding in January 1974 at Birdsville, and more recently the floods of 1991, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2009 is the isolation of towns and properties and the extensive inundation of grazing lands which can last several months in some areas, with road transport disrupted for considerable periods of time.
The Diamantina River catchment has well documented history of flooding dating back some 50 years, including Diamantina Lakes (commenced 1965) and Birdsville (commenced 1949).
The Bureau of Meteorology operates a flood warning system for the Diamantina River based on a rainfall and river height observations network shown on the map. The network consists of a number of volunteer rainfall and river height observers who forward observations by telephone when the initial flood height has been exceeded at their station.
The Bureau's Flood Warning Centre issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Diamantina River during flood events. Qualitative flood forecasts are issued when moderate flood levels are likely to be exceeded at Winton and quantitative forecasts are provided whenever river levels are forecast to exceed 7.0 metres at Birdsville.
Local Council's throughout the Diamantina River catchment may be able to provide further details of flooding in your area.
Flood Warnings and Bulletins
The Bureau of Meteorology issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Diamantina River regularly during floods. They are sent to radio stations for broadcast, and to local Councils, emergency services and a large number of other agencies involved in managing flood response activities. Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins are available via :
Internet/World Wide Web
Interpreting Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins
Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins contain observed river heights for a selection of the river height monitoring locations. The time at which the river reading has been taken is given together with its tendency (e.g. rising, falling, steady or at its peak). The Flood Warnings may also contain predictions in the form of minor, moderate or major flooding for a period in the future. River Height Bulletins also give the height above or below the road bridge or causeway for each river station located near a road crossing.
One of the simplest ways of understanding what the actual or predicted river height means is to compare the height given in the Warning or Bulletin with the height of previous floods at that location.
The table below summarises the flood history of the Diamantina River basin - it contains the flood gauge heights of the more significant recent floods.
[*] Estimated peak flood heights from flood marks and other information.
Historical flood heights for all river stations in the Diamantina River Floodwarning network, as shown on the map, are available from the Bureau of Meteorology upon request.
At each flood warning river height station, the severity of flooding is described as minor, moderate or major according to the effects caused in the local area or in nearby downstream areas. Terms used in Flood Warnings are based on the following definitions.
Each river height station has a pre-determined flood classification which details heights on gauges at which minor, moderate and major flooding commences. Other flood heights may also be defined which indicate at what height the local road crossing or town becomes affected by floodwaters.
The table below shows the flood classifications for selected river height stations in the Diamantina River catchment.
(B) = Bridge (A) = Approaches (C) = Causeway
The above details are correct at the time of preparing this document. Up-to-date flood classifications and other details for all flood warning stations in the network are at:
Flood gauge information
For the latest rainfall and river height conditions please use the following link:
For the latest rainfall and river height network map please use the following link:Network maps
For further information, contact:
The Regional Hydrology Manager, Bureau of Meteorology, GPO Box 413, Brisbane Q 4001