Cath & Dave Marrett sell beer, chocolates and insect repellent over the bar at their tiny pub on the Darling River. Out the front, they provide fuel & directions to visitors over dusty bonnets, with warnings to watch out for kangaroos and emus on the local dirt roads. They yarn with local graziers and shearers, they host meetings of the school P&C and the local cricket club. Shindy's Inn at Louth is just another typical bush pub in outback New South Wales. Perched on the levee bank, the p

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

Cath & Dave Marrett sell beer, chocolates and insect repellent over the bar at their tiny pub on the Darling River. Out the front, they provide fuel & directions to visitors over dusty bonnets, with warnings to watch out for kangaroos and emus on the local dirt roads. They yarn with local graziers and shearers, they host meetings of the school P&C and the local cricket club. Shindy's Inn at Louth is just another typical bush pub in outback New South Wales. Perched on the levee bank, the p

Steve Asimopoulos felt he had won the lottery when the Government paid him to walk off his Barmera fruit block to free up water for environmental flows during the drought. The cash payout brought relief from the crippling debts he had incurred modernising his wine grape block in the 1990s. He had increased plantings, switched to drip irrigation and upgraded his machinery to tap into the prosperity of the wine grape boom in the Riverland, an irrigated fruit bowl on the River Murray in South…

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

Steve Asimopoulos felt he had won the lottery when the Government paid him to walk off his Barmera fruit block to free up water for environmental flows during the drought. The cash payout brought relief from the crippling debts he had incurred modernising his wine grape block in the 1990s. He had increased plantings, switched to drip irrigation and upgraded his machinery to tap into the prosperity of the wine grape boom in the Riverland, an irrigated fruit bowl on the River Murray in South…

Fields of dust now replace rows of cotton at Tandou Farm in far west NSW. Dry conditions and dwindling water in the Menindee Lakes has meant for the first time in five years the popular fibre won't be grown at the station. It is an unusual sight on the 13,300-hectare property, which is usually producing thousands of bales of white gossypium. Tandou Farm agronomist and crop manager Rob Lowe says the immediate future looks bleak.

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

The loss of water from the Gwydir Valley in northern NSW has been described as "catastrophic" for the farming community. Water users sold more than 100,000 megalitres under the Federal Government's buybacks. That is more than 1/4 of the valley's general security licences. The district is renowned for its cotton industry and before the Murray-Darling Basin Plan the area could produce up to 90K hectares each year.  Cotton farmer Mark Winter said produc

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

Western NSW towns are struggling as the introduction of the Murray Darling Basin Plan reduces water supply, farmers warn.

Donna Stewart's ties to the Murray-Darling Basin are strong. She has lived all her life on the banks of a river at the headwaters of system in southern Queensland.  The mighty Balonne River cuts past the township of Surat where she grew up, and it is the lifeblood of the town she now calls home, St George.  Currently mayor of the Balonne Shire, and a local councillor for 34 years, Cr Stewart has been through it all, from droughts to flooding rains.

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

Donna Stewart's ties to the Murray-Darling Basin are strong. She has lived all her life on the banks of a river at the headwaters of system in southern Queensland. The mighty Balonne River cuts past the township of Surat where she grew up, and it is the lifeblood of the town she now calls home, St George. Currently mayor of the Balonne Shire, and a local councillor for 34 years, Cr Stewart has been through it all, from droughts to flooding rains.

In her role at a cotton farming company in Bourke, Jen McKay has had to tell many workers they no longer have jobs. "You take a gamble being a farmer. It's pretty sad to watch. I've seen grown men cry because they're stressed and they're scared they'll lose what they've built up because of a lack of water," she said. This year the lack of water was not because of the drought. A water embargo meant irrigators along the Barwon-Darling River were not allowed to pump their allocation, but had to

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

In her role at a cotton farming company in Bourke, Jen McKay has had to tell many workers they no longer have jobs. "You take a gamble being a farmer. It's pretty sad to watch. I've seen grown men cry because they're stressed and they're scared they'll lose what they've built up because of a lack of water," she said. This year the lack of water was not because of the drought. A water embargo meant irrigators along the Barwon-Darling River were not allowed to pump their allocation, but had to

The Warrego River at the north of the Murray-Darling Basin has been both a blessing and a curse for the people of Charleville in south-west Queensland.  Were it not for the river, it is likely the small outback township would never have been established as it proved a wonderful water source for pioneers in the area.  However, the river has also brought the town to its knees.

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

The Warrego River at the north of the Murray-Darling Basin has been both a blessing and a curse for the people of Charleville in south-west Queensland. Were it not for the river, it is likely the small outback township would never have been established as it proved a wonderful water source for pioneers in the area. However, the river has also brought the town to its knees.

Tempers have flared once again over the long-term plan to return water to the Murray-Darling River and improve its health.

Few know the mouth of the Murray-Darling system like Richard Owen. The conservationist and Landcare co-ordinator has lived on Hindmarsh Island for 35 years – bearing witness to the river estuary's rapid decline. Today, he stands atop sand dunes, looking out at the two diesel powered mechanical dredges working around the clock to keep the mouth from closing.

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

Few know the mouth of the Murray-Darling system like Richard Owen. The conservationist and Landcare co-ordinator has lived on Hindmarsh Island for 35 years – bearing witness to the river estuary's rapid decline. Today, he stands atop sand dunes, looking out at the two diesel powered mechanical dredges working around the clock to keep the mouth from closing.

Like many, Keith Parkes' relationship with the River Murray is a love story. It was love that inspired him to move his family from Adelaide to Goolwa 22 years ago, to live and work along the waterway. He built a thriving boating business, while his wife and daughters enjoyed all the things that came with being by the river. But by 2008, that had all changed.

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

Like many, Keith Parkes' relationship with the River Murray is a love story. It was love that inspired him to move his family from Adelaide to Goolwa 22 years ago, to live and work along the waterway. He built a thriving boating business, while his wife and daughters enjoyed all the things that came with being by the river. But by 2008, that had all changed.

Throughout the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan irrigation farmers and environmentalists have often been seen as enemies battling over the system's water resources.  Ecologist Matt Herring said what is happening in the Riverina shows that water can be managed not just for the environment or for agriculture, but for both, at the same time.

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

Travel along the Murray-Darling to meet the people whose lives depend on the system.

Geoff Stevens has been fishing in Lake Mulwala and down the Murray for the last 40 years. He has seen the rise and fall of water quality - and the dramatic increase of an introduced bottom-feeding pest: carp. "The biggest problem here at the moment for the fishermen is the amount of carp," he said. Carp in large numbers negatively affect the health of the river by stirring up sediments during feeding, reducing water quality.

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

Geoff Stevens has been fishing in Lake Mulwala and down the Murray for the last 40 years. He has seen the rise and fall of water quality - and the dramatic increase of an introduced bottom-feeding pest: carp. "The biggest problem here at the moment for the fishermen is the amount of carp," he said. Carp in large numbers negatively affect the health of the river by stirring up sediments during feeding, reducing water quality.

Ken Tyson uses water Murrumbidgee River at Wagga to run two thriving businesses. His turf farm supplies clients as far away as Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra and his quarry supplies raw material for infrastructure across the region.

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

Ken Tyson uses water Murrumbidgee River at Wagga to run two thriving businesses. His turf farm supplies clients as far away as Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra and his quarry supplies raw material for infrastructure across the region.

David Mott says the lush green grass on Berry Jerry Station is an example of how the Murrumbidgee River can be successfully harnessed. The Mott family has owned the 2,161 hectare riverside property for 27 years and in that time he has seen the best and the worst from nature. But even in severe droughts the river helped them survive. "Like everywhere else there was a lack of feed, but the one thing we had no problem with is water," he said. "We have very good underground water here as well as

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

David Mott says the lush green grass on Berry Jerry Station is an example of how the Murrumbidgee River can be successfully harnessed. The Mott family has owned the 2,161 hectare riverside property for 27 years and in that time he has seen the best and the worst from nature. But even in severe droughts the river helped them survive. "Like everywhere else there was a lack of feed, but the one thing we had no problem with is water," he said. "We have very good underground water here as well as

There is no shortage of passion or opinion on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in Griffith. Almost five years ago to the day, irrigators burned copies of the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan, furious at the lack of consideration given to the community impacts of basin reform. For many, the fury remains. "There's a saying in our community - water in our community is like gold, liquid gold," Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi said.

Down the river: The people who depend on the Murray-Darling

There is no shortage of passion or opinion on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in Griffith. Almost five years ago to the day, irrigators burned copies of the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan, furious at the lack of consideration given to the community impacts of basin reform. For many, the fury remains. "There's a saying in our community - water in our community is like gold, liquid gold," Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi said.

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