The River Murray’s systems of locks was built 100 years ago to facilitate trade and irrigation. Today they also accommodate river tourism and traffic.
How the locks work
Locks work on a chamber system. To travel downstream, water inside the chamber must be at the same level as the top weir. The top gates are opened by hydraulic-powered arms before a boat can enter.
Once the boat is inside the chamber, the gates are closed and water in the lock is released by opening large, hydraulically-operated valves just upstream of the lock gates. Each valve is slightly smaller than an average house door.
Water flows from the lock chamber through tunnels to the weir pool below. As the water level in the chamber drops, the boat is lowered until it is equal to the level of the lower weir.
Then, the bottom gates are opened and the boat passes through. The water level in locks is raised and lowered entirely by gravity: no pumps are used.
The process is reversed for boats travelling upstream. It takes only about seven minutes to empty or fill a lock chamber. But, it normally takes 15 to 20 minutes to pass a boat through the lock.
Each lock can take six to eight medium-sized houseboats at once.
Opening hours and out-of-hours access
Generally, you can travel through a lock every day except Christmas Day.
Please note: this page carries lock closure notifications.
To use a lock outside normal operating times, you have to apply in advance in writing and we need a minimum of seven days' notice. You may also need to pay a fee – you can check this by contacting our Berri office on 08 8595 2222, 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Opening hours: River Murray Locks 1 – 6
8am – 11.30am, Australian Central Standard Time (ACST)
1pm – 4.30pm, ACST
River Murray Locks 7 – 9
8am – 11.30am, Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)
1pm – 4.30pm, AEST
8am – 12.30am, ACST
1.30pm – 4.30pm, ACST
How to travel through a lock
There are five simple rules for travelling through a lock.
- Contact the lock operator before you approach. You can use any of these methods:
- three prolonged blasts (four seconds each) on a whistle, air or electric horn or other suitable device
- via a mobile phone.
- Wait until you see a red flashing light on top of the control boxes. This means the lock operator has acknowledged your request. The lock operator will prepare the lock for you.
- Do not approach until you are told to. Keep more than 150m back from the lock until you see a green flashing light.
- Stop in the lock chamber where the lock operator tells you to stop. They will pass down ropes so you can secure your vessel during the process.
- Navigating the lock with a vessel tied to the side of a houseboat is not recommended.
If conditions are not safe for lockage, we can refuse one. For more information, please contact our Berri office on 08 8595 2222.
Contacting our people at a lock or barrage
- Goolwa - 0408 813 729
- Lock 1 - 08 8540 5001
- Lock 2 - 08 8543 2246
- Lock 3 - 08 8588 7005
- Lock 4 - 08 8582 1388
- Lock 5 - 08 8595 5114
- Lock 6 - 08 8595 8025
- Lock 7 - 03 5027 8225
- Lock 8 - 03 5027 8231
- Lock 9 - 03 5028 2235
Water Supply On
- 16/01/2020 01:17 PM - We are attending to an incident in Mile End with no interruption to the water supply. The safety of our crews and customers comes first, and we always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as quickly as we can. Reference Number WO: 07265949.
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