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The Todd River ( Arrernte: ''Lhere Mparntwe'') is an
ephemeral river Ephemerality (from the Greek language, Greek word , , meaning 'lasting only one day') is the concept of things being transitory, existing only briefly. Typically the term ephemeral is used to describe objects found in nature, although it can de ...
in the southern
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, ...
, central
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
. The origins of the Todd River are in the
MacDonnell Ranges The MacDonnell Ranges, or Tjoritja in Arrernte, is a mountain range and an interim Australian bioregion A bioregion is an ecology, ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a biogeographical realm, but larger than an ...
, where it flows past the
Telegraph Station Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of textual messages where the sender uses a semaphore system, known to the recipient, rather than a physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus flag semaphore is a method of telegraph ...

Telegraph Station
, almost through the centre of
Alice Springs Alice Springs ( aer, Mparntwe) is the third-largest town in the Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an states and territories of Australia, Australian territory in the central a ...

Alice Springs
, through Heavitree Gap at the southern end of Alice Springs and continuing on for some distance, passing through the western part of the
Simpson Desert The Simpson Desert is a large area of dry, red sandy plain and dunes in Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an states and territories of Australia, Australian territory in the cent ...
, as it becomes a tributary of the Hale River, and eventually flowing into
Lake Eyre Lake Eyre ( ), Dual naming, officially known as Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre, is an endorheic lake in east-central Far North (South Australia), Far North South Australia, some north of Adelaide. The shallow lake is the depocentre of the vast endorh ...

Lake Eyre
in South Australia. The indigenous
Arrernte people Artist Albert Namatjira was a Western Arrernte man. The Arrernte () people, sometimes referred to as the Aranda, Arunta or Arrarnta, are a group of Aboriginal Australian peoples who live in the Arrernte lands, at ''Mparntwe'' (Alice Springs ...
know this river as Lhere Mparntwe (pronounced ler-ra m-barn-twa). The Todd is in a very
arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development or developing may refer to: Arts *Development hell, when a project is stuck in d ...

arid
part of Australia and has zero to very low flow during 95% of the year. When it does flow, it carries a heavy
sediment Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering Weathering is the deterioration of rocks A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is cate ...

sediment
load picked up from the grazing land around the Bond Springs homestead which lends its waters a milky chocolate colour and renders them completely opaque. The Todd River's English name, and that of its tributary, the Charles River, were given by surveyor W. W. Mills, after Charles Todd, then South Australian Superintendent of Telegraphs and Postmaster General of
South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest of Austral ...

South Australia
, who was largely responsible for the construction of the
Overland Telegraph Line The Australian Overland Telegraph Line was a telegraphy, telegraph line that connected Darwin, Northern Territory, Darwin with Port Augusta, South Australia, Port Augusta in South Australia. Completed in 1872, the Overland Telegraph Line allowed ...
.


Significance to Alice Springs

The Todd River is integral to the city of Alice Springs, which has its
central business district A central business district (CBD) is the commercial and business center of a city. It contains commercial space and offices. In larger cities, it is often synonymous with the city's "financial district". Geographically, it often coincides with ...
built on the edge of the river. A large portion of the Alice Springs municipal area is situated on a flood plain of the Todd River, created by flooding upstream of the east-west barrier created by the Heavitree Range, a local segment of the
MacDonnell Ranges The MacDonnell Ranges, or Tjoritja in Arrernte, is a mountain range and an interim Australian bioregion A bioregion is an ecology, ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a biogeographical realm, but larger than an ...
. The Todd runs south through this range at Heavitree Gap along with the main road and rail links connecting Alice Springs to
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually ...

Adelaide
. Heavy flows of the Todd can cut road and rail access, and the bottle neck effect of the Gap can cause flooding in many parts of the town. There have been numerous cases of people drowning as often people camp in the riverbed and the flooding can occur very rapidly and unexpectedly from heavy rains upstream. Heavy rainfalls in the catchment to the north of Alice Springs cause the river to start flowing through the town around 6 to 8 hours later. The river can change from its normal dry bed to a bank-to-bank flow within 15 minutes, and it is possible to follow the leading edge of the flow as it snakes through town at a walking pace. The riverbed contains sites and trees sacred to the local Arrente people including strong associations with Yeperenye (Caterpillar) Dreaming and with certain old red-river gums in the river representing Kwekatja; pre-initiated boys following the river north.


Recreation and social events

The Henley-on-Todd Regatta has been held in Alice Springs annually since 1961. The ironic regatta is held on the dry riverbed, and draws up to 20,000 spectators. Bottomless boats are picked up by the competitors standing within them and running down the course. The regatta carries
insurance Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management Risk management is the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of risk In simple terms, risk is the possibility of something bad happening. ...

insurance
against the risk of
water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known li ...

water
in the riverbed. The Henley-on-Todd Regatta has been cancelled once, in 1993, due to flooding - the river had too much water for the race. Other events are held in the dry riverbed, including the closing ceremony for the 2006 Alice Festival. Camping in the riverbed is illegal, although this law is rarely enforced. A flow of water in the river is quite an event for the people of Alice Springs, who flock to the causeways and the Telegraph Station to play in the fleeting waters. Although the riverbed is wide and of gentle gradient through the town the opaque waters combined with trees, waterborne and man-made hazards make playing in the flowing river dangerous. Upstream from Alice Springs the Todd River descends quite rapidly, dropping 100 metres from Junction Waterhole to the Telegraph Station over 8 km of river length (5 km direct). This is a hilly area, and the river bed is strewn with rocks creating some lively rapids during the short-lived flood events. Many locals are wary of these waters, remembering the death of a local man in 1997 who drowned whilst riding the river on a lilo. Local paddlers have recently taken to kayaking this section of grade 2 to 3 rapids.


See also

* List of rivers of Northern Territory


References


Further reading


Cultural Values Associated with Alice Springs water
by Dick Kimber
Lira imarukua lhere mparntwe : the Todd River
by Dick Kimber *Centralian Advocate (Newspaper of Alice Springs). *Alice Springs News

*Wilkins, P. W. 2002
Henley on Todd Regatta - Alice Springs Todd River
*Photos, contacts, date
Henley on Todd Website
- Next regatta Sat 15 Aug 2020 *Ausemade, Todd River Photos, 2006-200

- Todd River - a rare occurrence


External links



{{coord, 23.75, S, 133.8772, E, scale:100000, display=title Rivers of the Northern Territory Alice Springs Lake Eyre basin