This paper investigates learning related to the phenomena of drying over the past decade in the southern Murray-Darling Basin in Australia, as perceived in a mid-river site within the western Riverina of New South Wales, Australia. The insights from audio-recorded interviews, with a wide range of adults across the water-dependent community, mostly relate to the catchment of the Murrumbidgee River in the Shire of Hay. Our overarching theme is about how people are learning about, understanding and bearing the risks, of what is widely regarded as a prolonged drought. For some, the learning is about how to cope with less water in the Basin, and particularly from the river, as predicted in the climate change literature. Our narrative-based, empirical research registers the felt experience of those located, in situ, as a severe ‘irrigation drought’ extends into 2009. The paper dramatises the many obstacles to learning how to think and act differently, in difficult and rapidly changing ecosocial circumstances.
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