CREEK (Mid. Eng. crike or creke, common to many N. European languages), a small inlet on a low coast, an inlet in a river formed by the mouth of a small stream, a shallow narrow harbour for small vessels. In America and Australia especially there are many long streams which can be everywhere forded and sometimes dry up, and are navigable only at their tidal estuaries, mere brooks in width which are of great economic importance. They form complete river-systems, and are the only supply of surface water over many thousand square miles. They are at some seasons a mere chain of "water-holes," but occasionally they are strongly flooded. Since exploration began at the coast and advanced inland, it is probable that the explorers, advancing up the narrow inlets or "creeks," used the same word for the streams which flowed into these as they followed their courses upward into the country. The early settlers would use the same word for that portion of the stream which flowed through their own land, and in Australia particularly the word has the same local meaning as brook in England. On a map the whole system is called a river, e.g. the river Wakefield in South Australia gives its name to Port Wakefield, but the stream is always locally called "the creek."
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)