Objective(s): Describe unintentional drowning deaths in rivers, creeks and streams (rivers) in Australia and identify risk factors to inform prevention. Design & setting: This study is a cross-sectional, total population audit of all unintentional fatal drownings in Australian rivers between 1-July-2002 and 30-June-2012 using Australian coronial data. A modified Bonferroni test has been applied, deeming statistical significance p<0.03 and p<0.04 respectively. Results: Rivers (n = 770; 26.6%) were the leading location among the 2,892 people who died from unintentional fatal drowning. This is a rate of 0.37/100,000 people / annum. Within river drowning deaths common groups include; males (80.4%), adults (85.3%), adults who have consumed alcohol (25.5%), people who fell in (21.3%), people involved in non-aquatic transport incidents (18.2%) and locals (74.0%). Children were 1.75 times more likely than adults (p<0.04) to drown in rivers as a result of a fall and adults 1.50 times more likely to drown in rivers as a result of watercraft incidents when compared to children. When compared to males, females were 2.27 and 4.45 times respectively more likely to drown in rivers as a result of incidents involving non-aquatic transport (p<0.04) and being swept away by floodwaters (p<0.04). Males were 2.66 and 4.27 times respectively more likely to drown in rivers as a result of watercraft incidents (p<0.04) and as a result of jumping in (p<0.04) when compared to females. Conclusion(s): While rivers are the leading location for drowning in Australia, little is understood about the risks. This study has identified key groups (males, adults, locals) and activities. While males were more likely to drown, the risk profile for females differed.