The Murray is a book about landscape and fish, about memory and concepts, about imagination and desire. Through a complex interweaving of history, poetry, art and individual memories, Paul Sinclair has created an original and subtly conceived work, offering imaginative space to think about land and water in new ways. The focus is on shifts and changes: the brief heyday of the riverboats and their transformation into a tourist attraction; the decline of the mighty Murray cod and the rise of the European carp; the alteration of flow patterns and species; the changing fortunes of the river towns. The Murray offers a unique picture of Australia's major river.
As part of the research for The Murray, Paul Sinclair and his partner paddled a canoe 1330 kilometres along the river, talking to people they came across in towns and on sandbars and getting to know the intricacies of the river. From 1999 to 2001 he worked at the 900,000-hectare Bookmark Biosphere Reserves in the South Australian Riverland.