Home Water Great Artesian Basin




The Great Artesian Basin is the largest artesian groundwater basin in the world!

It underlies approximately one-fifth of Australia and extends beneath the arid and semi arid parts of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Stretches from the Great Dividing Range to the Lake Eyre Depression.

Covers a total area of over 1.7 million km²

Estimated total water storage of 8700 million megalitres (one megalitre is equivalent to half the water in an Olympic swimming pool)

Water in the Basin

  • Groundwater in the Basin flows to the south-west over most of the Basin but to the north-west and north in the northern section.
  • Water flows through the sandstones at a rate of one to five metres per year
  • Water flows into the Basin mainly along the north-eastern margin
  • Natural water comes out of the Basin mainly from springs in the south-western area.
  • Dating of artesian waters suggests that the oldest waters which occur in the south-western area of the Basin are almost 2 million years old.
  • Water temperature varies from 30ºC in the shallower areas to over 100 ºC in the deeper areas.


The Great Artesian Basin Water Supply

  • Outflow of water from the Basin has now dropped to around 1200 megalitres per day. Since 1891, water yield from the Basin has been dropping significantly and action is required to protect this vast, hidden asset.
  • About one-third of all artesian bores which flowed when drilled have now ceased to flow and require pumping equipment to bring the water to the surface.
  • Both pressure and flow are now beginning to increase as the Basin is again approaching equilibrium between the amount of water going in and coming out of the Basin


Importance of Conserving the Great Artesian Basin

  • Access to the Basin has been fundamental in the development of many industries and has allowed settlement to occur in arid areas overlying the Great Artesian Basin (GAB).
  • The water provides a reliable water supply for industrial and mining purposes, stock, and domestic and town water.
  • There are a range of cultural and environmental heritage values associated with the Basin, largely focused on areas where water flows from the surface in the form of artesian springs, baseflow to rivers and streams and other groundwater dependent ecosystems.
  • If the Great Artesian water supply is not sustainably managed and people continue to pump water from it at rate faster than can naturally be replaced, the groundwater level may drop. This may cause natural artesian springs to cease flowing.
  • When rivers and streams become dry in times of drought, the base river flow which normally runs out of the artesian basin will not be able to refill the river because the groundwater has dropped too low.



For more information on the Great Artesian Basin visit:

The Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee

QLD Department of Natural Resources and Water

Australian Government:

Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative

Department of the Environment Heritage, Water and the Arts