Issue 248 Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment

Northern Australia has long been big on ideas and short on data. Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has now delivered the most extensive, integrated, study of water and agriculture resources of the north – covering 200,000 square kilometres across multiple river catchments.

Aerial photo of bush with people and truck with a drill rig attached, and mountains in the distance

CSIRO has delivered the most extensive, integrated assessment of northern Australia’s water resources and the potential for further irrigated agricultural development. Big idea, big landscape, big data. Here is why the work was necessary and how the results can be used.

aerial photo of a sandy river bed with some water flow and riparian bushland

An extensive assessment of water resources in the Fitzroy River catchment points to the region’s largely untapped aquifer systems as key to the potential for irrigated agricultural development.

aerial of river winding through coastal flood plain

There’s talk of a ‘food bowl’ in northern Australia. Around Darwin in the Northern Territory it’s more likely to be a fruit bowl, according to a new study of the potential for irrigated agricultural development in the region’s river catchments.

aerial of a braided sandy river bed

Water alone won’t make irrigated agriculture financially viable in northern Australia’s Mitchell River catchment. Local processing facilities will be needed to get a return on investment for any large-scale investment.

setting sun reflecting off river cliffs

An important part of the Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment was engagement with the Indigenous Traditional Owners of the catchments.