When my family came to the river country there were almost no whites, and damned few Abbos. First it was the smallpox, killing eight out of ten, then the long dry which turned the Murray into a road of of puddles with grain skiffs sunk to the scuppers in the deep red mud.
My great-granddad come up from Victoria during the Boer War, when most of the young men had gone serve the Empire. He’d been a mate on a goldfield ship and knew his way around a river.
We consider the Murray the most valuable waterway in Australia. It irrigates all the fields in the valley so you could grow almost anything and also provides a way for the farmers to get their crops from the field to a rail spur using nothing more than a flatboat and a mule.
But now there’s another dry on, longest yet.
And she’s salting up bad enough to kill grass.