The Finke River is one of the largest rivers in central Australia. Its source is in the Northern Territory's MacDonnell Ranges, and the name Finke River is first applied at the confluence of the Davenport and Ormiston Creeks, just north of Glen Helen. From here the river meanders for approximately 600 km to the western edge of the Simpson Desert in northern South Australia.
Usually the river is a string of waterholes, but it can become a raging torrent during rare flood events. In extreme events, water from the Finke River flows into the Macumba River, and thence into Lake Eyre, a total distance from headwater streams of around 750 km. Major tributaries include Ellery Creek, and the Palmer and Hugh Rivers. The Finke River flows through the West MacDonnell and Finke Gorge National Parks.
The Finke River was named by John McDouall Stuart in 1860 after an Adelaide man, William Finke, who was one of the promoters of his expedition. The indigenous name for the river in parts of the Northern Territory is Larapinta, which lends its name to Larapinta Drive, which runs west from Alice Springs, and the Larapinta walking trail.