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Post-production   /  Amanda King

Where The Water Starts

An Indigenous man and his partner defend the Snowy Mountains against feral horses and catastrophic fires.


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR Amanda King

  • PRODUCER Fabio Cavadini



Richard Swain loves the bush and wildlife of the southern ranges of New South Wales, where he was born. Richard's deep connection to country and skill as a river guide led him and his partner, Alison to set up Alpine River Adventures. A successful business is now threatened by low water levels in the Snowy River. They both consider climate change is impacting the environment they love. As Indigenous Ambassador for the Invasive Species Council, Richard highlights the damage done by feral horses in the Kosciuszko National Park. Their activism provokes a potent backlash from brumby supporters who identify with the mythology surrounding the Man From Snowy River. However the park is the home of the headwaters of the Snowy, Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers and the delicate alpine ecosystem that supports these vital water sources is being trampled. After fighting the catastrophic wildfires that surrounded his community, Richard continues his campaign with even greater determination.

Support this project

64.20% funded
  • $50,000.00

  • $32,100.00

  • 1st July 2021

  • 95

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Neale Towart $200.00
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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Australia's fragile natural environment is being ravaged by bush fires, extreme weather events that are a direct result of climate change. Traditional farming techniques and the impact of feral animals are doing great harm to waterways, indigenous species and Indigenous cultural heritage. Neglect and contempt for Aboriginal land management practices has also played a part. This film seeks to empower those protecting our fragile ecosystems to promote action in its defense.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

The film will raise awareness about the real impacts of climate change on Australia's highly unique and fragile ecosystems. Audiences will see a specific story about the Snowy Monaro region where the campaign to reduce numbers of feral animals that threaten key water sources and the habitat of endangered indigenous species, is being waged. Integral to native species survival is the need to increase their habitat. The film will direct audiences to NGOs and wildlife groups tackling these issues.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Short Term outcomes include a shift in attitudes and a growing awareness of the huge and negative impacts of global warming on our natural environment, as demonstrated in the Snowy Monaro region where climate change has its own particular impacts. Donations are likely for organisations playing these important roles. The urgent reduction of feral animals across Australia requires community pressure on the political class to act.

Medium Term outcomes include politicians and government agencies with authority over the natural environment to implement new policies which offer and guarantee employment for Aboriginal people to play the vital role of 'care for country'.

The Long Term impact is a better understanding across our society that with mutual respect and recognition Indigenous and non-Indigenous people can work together to maintain our vital natural environment.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

We have recently been endorsed by Reclaim Kosci, part of the Invasive Species Council who are partners. We will also be approaching the Australian Wildlife Society, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, WIRES, Wildcare Australia, Australian Koala Foundation, WWF Australia, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and the Foundation for Australia's Most Endangered Species(FAME) among others. Richard and his wife Alison are both actively involved in the Invasive Species Council and especially, post bush fires, is a critically important time to act against feral animals, their social media campaign is very active now. We have filmed with staff from the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital so we will make that approach too.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

The actions of audiences are critical to changing community norms and prejudices where they exist. The bush fire catastrophe of 2019-20 has brought out a variety of perspectives on the causes with our natural environment and our national parks being blamed by some. It is important for genuine measures to ameliorate climate change that the whole community be brought along on the journey. Audiences can do a range of actions from the more passive acts of signing petitions online to direct membership or subscription or donations to a range of climate change groups and wildlife groups. They might host a screening of the film and promote these activities as a consequence, or they may attend a vigil or street action that highlights the issues in the film.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

The indicators of success will be that the film is seen as widely as possible around Australia and internationally and that the issues it explores are acted upon in tangible ways. These will include whether the federal governments' policies on climate change action – that carbon emissions reduction targets are seriously increased – are achieved. Beyond that, the specific policy changes that state governments need to undertake would include feral animal reduction or eradication being acted upon in defense of the livelihoods of native animals that perish as a result, especially after serious bushfires or wildfires. Other would include the success of ensuring the health, longevity, integrity and proper government funding of national parks, including large increases in Indigenous and non-Indigenous staffing and to promote the critical role of Indigenous decision making and management of our natural heritage.