When The River Runs Dry

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The film explores five significant themes:

  1. The state of the Darling River at Menindee
  2. The significance of the river to Indigenous people
  3. The reasons for the fish kill events
  4. The contribution of the irrigated cotton industry and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to the parlous state of the river
  5. Possible solutions to the problems that exist

The film assumes a lot of pre-existing knowledge about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the working of the irrigated cotton industry. There are various Appendixes that explain key ideas at appropriate points of the film, if needed. The relevance of each of these is indicated at the appropriate time. If students have a detailed knowledge of the plan, they can ignore these Appendixes.

Appendix 1 Why do algal blooms kill fish?

Appendix 2 The Murray-Darling Basin Plan explained

Appendix 3 The economy, Irrigation and cotton

The film relies heavily on a large number of brief interview bites. Teachers might allocate individual students to take responsibility for reporting the comments of individual interviewees to the whole class, as suggested at appropriate times as indicated in the following pages.


When the River Runs Dry is a documentary film that is suitable for senior students (Years 10-12) in:

GeographyPlace and SpaceLandscapesSustainabilityBiomesFood and fibreResourcesWater
HistorySettlementEconomic development
Indigenous cultureConnection to countryHistoryVoice to Government
Politics and Civics and CitizenshipGovernmentDelegated authorityRights and responsibilities
EconomicsCompeting economic interestsResources
Environmental studiesEnvironmentsSustainabilityResourcesEnvironmental movements