The Gilbert River catchment is located in north west Queensland and covers an area of approximately 47,000 square kilometres. The river rises in the Great Dividing Range approximately 150 kilometres southeast of Georgetown. The river flows in a northwesterly direction and is joined by its major tributary, the Einasleigh River, downstream of Strathmore, before finally entering the Gulf of Carpentaria in a river delta 100 kilometres wide.
The other main tributary, the Etheridge River, joins the Einasleigh River downstream of Georgetown, which is the only town in this vast catchment. Smaller settlements can be found at Forsayth, Mt Surprise and Einasleigh. Floods normally develop in the headwaters of the Gilbert and Einasleigh Rivers, however general heavy rainfall situations can develop from monsoonal and cyclonic influences which can result in widespread flooding, particularly in the lower reaches below Strathmore.