Todd River is an ephemeral river in the southern Northern
Territory, central Australia. The origins of the
Todd River are in the
MacDonnell Ranges, where it flows past the Telegraph Station, almost
through the center of 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, as it becomes
a tributary of the Hale River, and eventually flowing into Lake Eyre
in South Australia.
Arrernte people know this river as Lhere Mparntwe
(pronounced ler-ra m-barn-twa).
The Todd is in a very 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 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 river was named by surveyor W. W. Mills after Lady Alice Todd
(née Alice Gillam Bell), wife of Charles Todd, previously Postmaster
General of South Australia.
1 Significance to Alice Springs
2 Recreation and social events
3 See also
5 Further reading
6 External links
Significance to Alice Springs
Todd River flooding in 1988
Todd River is integral to the city of Alice Springs, which has its
central business district 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
Todd River during a rare flood event, Wills Terrace Causeway, Alice
Springs, 31 March 1988
The Todd runs south through this range at
Heavitree Gap along with the
main road and rail links connecting
Alice Springs to 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 rapidy 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 a matter of 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
Recreation and social events
Todd River in full flow in January 2015
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 against the risk of water in the riverbed.
Henley-on-Todd Regatta has once been cancelled, 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
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 excellent section of grade 2 to 3 rapids.
Northern Territory portal
List of rivers of Northern Territory
Todd River - A Rare Occurrence
^ "Todd River". www.bom.gov.au. Australian Bureau of Meteorology. c.
1995. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
Alice Springs Rotary Henley On Todd". Retrieved 2008-07-23.
Centralian Advocate (Newspaper of Alice Springs).
Alice Springs News. 
Wilkins, P. W. 2002. Henley on Todd
Alice Springs Todd River
Photos, contacts, dates Henley on Todd Website - Next regatta Sat 30
Todd River Photos, 2006-2007  -
Todd River - a rare
Todd River Images
River systems and rivers of the Northern Territory, Australia
Adelaide and Mary River
Anson Bay, Daly and Reynolds River
Cadell and Blyth
Fog Bay and Finniss River
Hyland Bay and Moyle
Coordinates: 23°45′00″S 133°52′38″E / 23.75°S