Caridean shrimps are an integral component of lowland river ecosystems in south-eastern Australia, but their distributions may be affected by flow alteration. Monthly shrimp samples were collected from slackwaters in three hydrologically distinct sections of the heavily regulated Campaspe River and the less regulated Broken River for three consecutive years. The distributions of Paratya australiensis, Caridina mccullochi and Macrobrachium australiense, along with their life history in river sections with different hydrology are outlined. Paratya australiensis and M. australiense occurred in all sections, but C. mccullochi was absent from sections of the Campaspe River that received irrigation flows during summer/autumn. Shrimp larvae were most abundant in summer (December–February) and juvenile recruitment continued through to mid autumn (April). Breeding and recruitment of P. australiensis occurred for longer than other shrimps. Apart from large adult and berried M. australiense, all life stages of shrimps commonly occurred in slackwaters, particularly the larval and juvenile stages. Irrigation flows in summer/autumn probably adversely affect the size, extent and arrangement of slackwaters, at a time when they may be critical habitats for C. mccullochi larval development and recruitment. Dams and weirs in the Campaspe River may have influenced shrimp abundance and the timing of breeding.