Film Review: Where the Water Starts

Filmmakers Fabio Cavadini, and Mandy King, with Richard and Alison Swain and baby Marlo.

Luisa Bertoggi and Helen Wilson, Illawarra Branch

Illawarra Branch hosted the premiere theatrical screening of this important documentary about Australia’s high country. It gives a First Nations perspective on the Alps as ‘where the water starts’ and features Richard Swain, Indigenous ambassador for the Invasive Species Council. The enthusiastic audience asked Richard, Alison and the filmmakers a lot of questions and agreed the film needs to be seen by all Australians. Caring for the high country is crucial for addressing climate change and for managing our river systems. It’s no place for feral horses.

What a wonderful short film. Thank you Mandy and Fabio.  It was delightful to witness Fabio’s indignant disbelief that any Australians could or would agitate to keep a feral pest in Kosciuszko National Park (KNP). Thank you Richard and Alison for your passion and commitment. 

Where the Waters Start dealt in depth with the uniqueness and fragility of the Australian alpine environment. This fact alone should make Australians proud and want to stand up for, and want to protect, this area. The film left no doubt in my mind that the horses are causing enormous and ultimately needless damage to this fragile environment. If only the people elected to protect this environment would do their job. Left unchecked for some years now, their numbers have increased alarmingly. Instead, our politicians are listening to and responding to a very small, but very vocal and somewhat violent, minority. Everyone needs to be shown those threatening text messages. They alone would make any reasonable person distance themselves from these people and see them for what they are – ignorant, ill-informed agitators with no reasonable, fact-based argument for supporting brumbies. Park rangers and people like Richard and Alison should never be threatened for doing their job.

The film also made it so very clear that the only humane way to reduce the brumby numbers is for aerial culling. Already deer, pigs and other feral animals are being culled in this manner. It makes economic sense to include the brumbies in the culls. Actually, there is no sound, scientific or historic reason presented by any of these brumby supporters for allowing ANY to remain in KNP!

Finally, where the Four Corners presented an overview of the brumby issue, this film paid due justice to the First Nations people’s connection to this country and their desire to restore the high country starting with removing the brumbies. First Nations peoples do this in a peaceful, respectful way, in stark contrast to the brumby supporters.

Several other branches have also organised screenings of this powerful film. To organise your own screening, contact the distributor, Fanforce Films (

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