Back Roads: Mar 19

Back Roads meanders the mighty Murray River as it criss-crosses the towns of Gunbower and Torrumbarry, in north central Victoria.

This week Heather Ewart takes Back Roads to Gunbower and Torrumbarry in north central Victoria.

While the two towns were once playful rivals, a natural disaster brought people together and reminded them of their strengths. Farmer John Williams tells Heather that massive floodwaters were bearing down on the towns in 2022, threatening homes and livestock. As disaster loomed, these locals turned out in force with trucks, tractors and earthmoving equipment, to build their own levee bank.

What binds them together these days, Heather learns, is their passion for protecting and nurturing their most vulnerable.

Home to one of the rarest birds in Australia, three farming families are going all out to preserve the little plains-wanderer. Another local farmer Andy McGilivray tells Heather they’ve secured its habitat with conservation covenants to protect the birds’ grassland home.

And they’re not alone. Further along the river, Tuesday Browell and Wollithiga elder Henry Atkinson are working together to recognise and protect local heritage and natural values, including a conservation covenant on her land that’s creating a safe haven for turtles.

Heather arrives in time to see newly hatched baby turtles making their way to the water.
These communities are using the power of water and positive thought in an outdoor ‘school’ to empower troubled youth. They’re drawing from local produce to equip adults living with disabilities with new life skills. And they’re preserving their history to protect their culture.

Across these plains, throughout the wetlands lies a group of Australians willing to roll up their sleeves to support themselves and each other.

8pm Tuesday on ABC.

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