When the township of Gundagai is devastated by raging floodwaters, two local Wiradjuri men, Yarri and Jacky Jacky, risk their lives to rescue a third of the town's residents in bark canoes on the treacherous Murrumbidgee River.
Among those saved are James and David Bradley, wealthy settlers. The Bradleys leave for Wagga Wagga, with James’s new bride, Louisa – and Yarri’s daughter, Wagadhaany, their Aboriginal servant, removing her from her beloved family and country. As a Quaker, Louisa’s mission is to help the Wiradjuri people, including Wagadhaany, and the two women develop an unorthodox friendship.
In Wagga Wagga, Wagadhaany meets Yindyamarra, a young Wiradjuri stockman working for the Bradleys, and they fall deeply in love. They dream of a better life, of children, and of going home, away from the degradation of being owned – and one day, with their young family, they set out on a journey along the river of their ancestors in search of lost family and country – one that will bring hope and heartache.
Set on timeless Wiradjuri country where the life-giving waters of the rivers can make or break dreams, and based on devastating true events, River of Dreams is an epic story of love, loss and belonging.
Kate Cooper manages the translation rights for Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray
Contact Tara Wynne for more information
This novel is an epic depiction of First People’s lives before and during white colonisers’ brutality. By recalling the past against a backdrop of romance, Heiss’s writing elicits a gut-wrenching response; this is what an excellent writer can do with their stories. With Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray, Heiss has given us a rollicking good read that also offers some important means of reflection.