Australia’s Darling River is the country’s third longest, stretching 915 miles from its source in northern New South Wales to its confluence with the Murray River at Wentworth, New South Wales. It looks brown due to organic matter that decays, releasing tannins. However, this natural process is not always a threat and is important to the river’s productivity, providing nutrients that aquatic life depends on. ©New Matilda, flickr

Our landscapes have a practical element that can’t be denied. They respond to and reflect back the physical forces of nature—drought, storms and temperatures certainly all have their impact on the health of the land.

But we sometimes forget that nature seems to have spiritual influences, a fact that native cultures still recognize.

In southeast Australia in 2010, after a decade-long drought, the country’s greatest river basin, the Murray-Darling, dried up. Climate change, the use of the Murray and Darling Rivers for irrigation and power production, and the destruction of lagoons, wetlands and forests had all taken their toll on the basin.


Thanks to the Ngarrindjeri people, today there is water again at the mouth of Australia’s Murray River.

That’s when aboriginal elders decided to take matters into their own hands. The Ngarrindjeri people, a nation of 18 tribes, traveled the length of the basin for two weeks, performing the Murrundi Ruwe Pangari Ringbalin (River Country Spirit Ceremony) at various sacred places, hoping to dance the spirit back into the land and heal the waters. The result was the largest flood surge in a hundred years.

The Ringbalin has been performed every year since 2010, and today there is water again at the mouth of the Murray River. As Ngarrindjeri elder Major Sumner implies at the end of the short video below, perhaps there are times when the land needs us to give it not only a practical respect, but a little spiritual appreciation, as well.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,