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.

Notifications on changes to normal lock operating times and conditions will be listed at the top of this page.

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 7424 2488, 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

Goolwa Barrage

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.

  1. Contact the lock attendant before you approach. Once your vessel is positioned around 400-600 meters from the lock, you can use any of these methods to let the attendant know you want to travel through:
    • three prolonged blasts (four seconds each) on a whistle, air or electric horn or other suitable device
    • via a mobile phone.
  2. Wait until you see a red flashing light on top of the control boxes. This means the lock attendant has acknowledged your request and they are preparing the lock for you.
  3. Do not approach until you are told to. Keep more than 150 metres back from the lock until you see a green flashing light. This is the signal for you to proceed into the lock chamber in a safe and controlled manner.
  4. Stop in the lock chamber where the lock attendant tells you to stop. They will pass down ropes so you can secure your vessel. Wrap - not tie - the rope around an appropriate fixing point, ensuring it remains secure.
  5. Navigating the lock with a vessel tied to the side of a houseboat is not recommended. For your safety, you also need to remain onboard during the lockage process.

If conditions are not safe for lockage, we can refuse one. For more information, please contact our Berri office on 08 7424 2488.

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

Lock locations

Lock 1: Egerton Street, Blanchetown SA 5357

Lock 2: Goyder Highway, Taylorville SA 5330

Lock 3: Lock 3 Road, Overland Corner SA 5330

Lock 4: Nitschke Road, Bookpurnong SA 5333

Lock 5: 182 Lock 5 Road, Paringa SA 5340

Lock 6: Lock 6 Road, Murtho SA 5340

Lock 7: Lock 7 Road, Rufus NSW 2648

Lock 8: Lock 8 Track, Ned’s Corner VIC 3496

Lock 9: Lock 9 Road, Cullulleraine VIC 3496

  • Major faults

  • Underway

  • Polkinghorns Rd
  • Arthurton
  • 18/06/2020
  • Water Supply On
  • 18/06/2020 03:05 PM - We are attending to an incident in Arthurton 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: 07505663.
  • See all major faults

  • Scheduled works

  • Underway
  • Spruance Rd
  • Elizabeth East
  • 11/06/2021
  • Temporary Supply Interruption
  • Estimated start time and water supply off: 15/06/2021 09:00 AM
    Estimated restore time and water supply back on: 15/06/2021 04:00 PM

    We’re improving your services and undertaking maintenance work in Elizabeth East. Sometimes our crews need to temporarily interrupt the water supply to our customers and/or manage traffic while they are working. Temporary traffic management may remain in place until reinstatement of the impacted road is complete. We always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as safely and quickly as we can.

  • See all scheduled works