The Ovens River rises in the steep, forested mountains of the Great Dividing Range near Mount Hotham and flows about 150 km to join the River Murray in the backwaters of Lake Mulwala. The system contains two small water storages: Lake Buffalo on the Buffalo River and Lake William Hovell on the King River. The regulated reaches of the Ovens system include the Buffalo and King rivers downstream of these storages and the Ovens River from its confluence with the Buffalo River to the River Murray.
The Ovens River and its floodplain continue to be places of significance for Traditional Owners and their Nations including the Yorta Yorta, Bangarang, Taungurung and Dhudhuroa peoples. The Registered Aboriginal Parties in the Ovens system are the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation in the Lower Ovens and the Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation in the upper King area.