It is said that civilisations are, to a very significant extent, defined by their great rivers such as the significance of the Mississippi to the US, the Ganges to India, the Nile to Egypt and the Thames to England - just to mention some.
It is sad then that Australia, as the driest of all the continents, seems to be the least caring and responsible of all in its almost total disregard for the worth and health of the Murray-Darling river system.
For many years these rivers have been abused by the selfish greed of the three states through which they flow as well as by the irresponsible exploitative demands on them by those engaged along their courses in irrigation and farming pursuits to get maximum benefit for their own requirements - and be damned to everyone else.
In recent times, these great rivers have benefited greatly from the uncharacteristic rainfall that has brought them to the most healthy condition that they have enjoyed in many years, yet there is the ever present danger of those who would run them dry again for their own perceived needs.
As far back as the Howard years there was $10 billion to be made available to manage and preserve the Murray-Darling rivers but, like most initiatives since then, the bickering has intensified among those who see that their own personal gain from the use of its resources as being paramount.
The appalling and panic-driven burning antics of some irrigators opposing the Murray Darling Basin Authority's plan to save the rivers in 2010 (suggesting cuts to water allocations to return flows) gives an indication of the 'head in the sand' attitude of those who would rape the water resources of the nation's most vital water resources to suit their own purposes. Only this week, the Labor government in SA joined the coalition states of Victoria and NSW in condemning the authority's plan and calling for urgent amendments to better suit their own purposes.
As public submissions were closing, a group of traditional Aboriginal elders was confirming its spirituality with a ceremony to be held progressively along the river system called Ringbalin, an ancient Aboriginal pilgrimage which will see participants travel 2300 kilometres from the headwaters in Queensland to the mouth of the Murray-Darling in SA.
Each night traditional elders and their supporters will stop by the river to perform their own dances, songs and stories and, as in all of the above examples where the spiritual nature of each of the rivers is so significantly part and parcel of their meaning, so it will become with the Murray-Darling against the crass selfishness of those who see only their own vested interests as being of importance.
The goals of these elders are to keep both the traditional aboriginal Ringbalin ceremony alive and, in the process, to add a mystical and spiritual element to the healing of Australia's greatest river systems.
With its spirit so revived, the mighty Murray-Darling rivers will be much confirmed.