The Beaufort River starts near Melbourne Vale at an elevation of 262m and ends at an elevation of 228m merging with thenear Duranillin. It is about 80 kilometres in length.
The only tributary of the river is the 7.5 kilometres (5 mi) Beaufort River East that joins the main river just east of where it crosses Albany Highway.
The river was named in 1835 by John Septimus Roe, Surveyor General of Western Australia, after a friend Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort who was Hydrographer of the Navy from 1829-1855. He is best remembered as the originator of the table for estimating wind force at sea, the Beaufort Scale. Roe knew Beaufort well, and in his journal he states ‘I called it “Francis Brook” and had the pleasure to name the river to which it was a tributary the “Beaufort”, after my esteemed friend Capt Francis Beaufort, Hydrographer to the Admiralty’.
The river's catchment falls within the Blackwood catchment's Beaufort zone as part of the Beaufort system. The system is composed of broad valley floors with a grey sandy duplex and was previously a wandoo sheoak woodland but has now mostly been cleared for agriculture