Some mixed bedrock-alluvial dryland rivers are known to undergo cycles of alluvial building during low flow periods, punctuated by stripping events during rare high magnitude flows. We focus on the Olifants River, Kruger National Park, South Africa, and present 2D morphodynamic simulations of hydraulics and sediment deposition patterns over an exposed bedrock anastomosed pavement. We examine the assumptions underlying a previous conceptual model, namely that sedimentation occurs preferentially on bedrock highs. Our modelling results and local field observations in fact show that sediment thicknesses are greater over bedrock lows, suggesting these are the key loci for deposition, barform initiation and island building. During peak flows, velocities in the topographic lows tend to be lower than in intermediate topographic areas. It is likely that intermediate topographic areas supply sediment to the topographic lows at this flow stage, which is then deposited in the lows on the falling limb of the hydrograph as velocities reduce. Subsequent vegetation establishment on deposits in the topographic lows is likely to play a key role in additional sedimentation and vegetation succession, both through increasing the cohesive strength of alluvial units and by capturing new sediments and propagules.