Australia's system of tropical rivers constitutes one of the largest and least changed drainage networks in the world. However increasing demand for water in parts of Australia, along with ongoing drought, is driving pressure to develop these rivers. This paper reports the results of a choice experiment (CE) to assess the benefits of different management strategies for three tropical rivers in northern Australia: the Daly, Mitchell and Fitzroy Rivers. The CE was carried out using a survey mailed to Australian urban populations. The results showed that 90% of Australians were willing to pay a once-off payment for the management of tropical rivers. Respondents who had visited or lived near the rivers were willing to pay more for cultural, recreational and environmental services than those who had not. Respondents classed as 'developers', who made up only 4% of the 684 respondents, considered a substantial income from irrigated agriculture as important. Unlike 'environmentalists' and 'neutrals', 'developers' were unwilling to pay for high quality recreational fishing or for having floodplains in good environmental condition. All groups, however, were willing to pay for high cultural values.