In 2010 Australia was facing the worst drought on history, but the death of the Murray Darling River had been written much earlier in European management without regard for Australia’s realities.
Tired of watching his ancestral home the Coorong die Ngarrindjeri elder Major Sumner united a group of different aboriginal nations from along the river on a 2300 kilometre pilgrimage to sign the spirit back into the river and into themselves.
By the time they had finished the drought had broken and what followed was the wettest wet season in living memory with floods throughout the basin. In 2011 the Aboriginal families retraced their ritual pilgrimage down the rivers from Southern Queensland to South Australia, and around them the river and the floods had transformed land. But in their lives the same struggles continued, and in the news the rest of Australia had already forgotten how close we all came to killing the river, and running out of water.
This is the story of a group of aboriginal families living between two worlds, struggling to have the knowledge of the world’s oldest surviving cultures heard in the national debate over how to live along Australia’s greatest river. And it is the story of two very different aboriginal leaders, Major Sumner and Cheryl Buchanan, traditional owners from either end of the Murray Darling River, elders, veterans of the tent embassy. Bound together by the rivers, the stories and their work to sing the spirit back into the land, their people, and the lives of their grandchildren.