All the Rivers Run is a Crawford Production television 4 part miniseries which aired on Channel Seven on the 4th of October 1983.
Starring Sigrid Thornton and John Waters. The miniseries is based on the Australian historical novel by Nancy Cato, first published in 1958.
The series was directed by George Miller and Pino Amenta with a budget of $3 million. The series was a massive ratings success in Australia and was sold to over 70 countries around the world.
The mini-series is marketed with the tagline A sweeping saga of one woman’s struggle for survival.
The plot starts with a storm off the Victorian coast in 1890, a young English girl Philadelphia Gordon (Sigrid Thornton) was shipwrecked and orphaned.
Rescued by the only other survivor of the wreck Tom Gritchley (Gus Mercurio), the girl is taken in care by her Uncle Charles (Charles Tingwell).
Known as Delie she is an energetic and high-spirited girl who wants to paint, and not conform. She finds it difficult to understand why her Aunt Hester (Dinah Shearing), a tart and unsmiling woman, seeks to impose her ideas of womanhood, femininity, even good housekeeping on a girl who needs nothing more than the freedom to lead her own life.
It is her cousin, Adam (William Upjohn), who truly awakens in Delie the feelings of young womanhood. Tom, the seaman who rescued Delie, arrives in Echuca on a paddle steamer he bought with his reward.
It is the beginning for Delie of a remarkable ten years in her life. Her investment of part of her inheritance in the riverboat is, without her knowing it, the first step towards a turbulent marriage to a riverboat man and, indeed, to the boats who ply their great trade along the mighty, unpredictable and perilous river.
In a riverboat ceremony, Delie marries Brenton Edwards (John Waters), a cavalier riverman, who wins and loses the girl on their way to the alter.
Their years together are as unpredictable as the river, and more than once Delie is attracted to bohemian Melbourne, and the patronage of Alistair Raeburn (Adrian Wright), the gentleman art critic, who falls in love with his protégé.
Yet Delie remains magnetically drawn to Brenton and the river, the crew of their paddle-steamer Philadelphia, and the river community of Echuca, friends like Bessie Griggs (Constance Landsberg), a merchant’s daughter, and George Blakeney (Don Barker), the bluff rival riverboat captain.
Their community has grown from the 1850’s when it was merely a river crossing, established by Henry Hopwood, an English convict.
Mobs of cattle and sheep were driven across the Murray at Echuca on their way to the stockyards at Melbourne. Proudly, Delie and Brenton race the Philadelphia in dangerously narrow waters, and for a wager they cannot afford. They dare the Darling River in drought, a dash which could go for nearly 1000 miles across outback New South Wales, in the hope that rains will wash down from Queensland and allow their escape.
In tinderbox conditions, they survive a fire which all but bankrupts them. They have a son, in a way many women did at the time…on the riverbank, in circumstances far removed from Echuca, when hardened riverman became midwives.
Brenton turns against the law to find a way out of their financial maze, and the couple part before coming together again. Brenton is critically injured in a riverboat accident. It inspires Delie to turn her talents towards being a riverboat captain, to winning her own Master’s Ticket.
The series was shot on location in Echuca as well as locations in Melbourne. The paddle steamer PS Pevensey was filmed as the PS Philadelphia.