The Mary River is a large river system rising at Booroobin in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. From its source, the Mary River flows north through the towns of Kenilworth, Gympie, Tiaro and Maryborough before emptying into the Great Sandy Strait at River Heads 17 km south of Hervey Bay. The river was traditionally named Moocooboola by local Aborigines (the Kabi Kabi people).
The river’s catchment covers an area of 9,595 km² and is bounded by the Conondale, Jimma and Burnett Ranges. Major tributaries of the Mary River include Tinana Creek, Munna Creek, Obi Obi Creek, Yabba Creek, Wide Bay Creek and the Susan River.
Species existing in the Mary River system include the endangered:
- Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus).
- Queensland Lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri)
- Mary River Cod (Maccullochella mariensis)
Significant vulnerable and endangered species that live in the river also include endangered Giant Barred Frog, Cascade Tree Frog and Coxen’s Fig Parrot and the vulnerable Tusked Frog, Honey Blue-eyed Fish, the Richmond Birdwin Butterfly and the Illidge’s Ant-blue Butterfly.
Saltwater Crocodiles are occasionally seen in the upper reaches of the river, with one notable 3.5 m crocodile being known to live in the river since April 2012. Although the official range for Saltwater Crocodiles stops near Gladstone, it is widely regarded that the Mary River is the most southerly range limit for crocodiles and in 2013 one crocodile was caught and relocated to Rockhampton. It is believed there may be others present.
The river was named Wide Bay River on 10 May 1842 by early European explorers, Andrew Petrie and Henry Stuart Russell. The official name was changed on 8 September 1847 (prior to Queensland becoming a separate colony) by Charles Augustus Fitzroy, then Governor of New South Wales, to Mary River — after his wife Lady Mary Lennox (15 August 1790 to 7 December 1847).