A young girl camps by the river with her family and through her eyes we are shown life on the river as it may have been 200 hundred years earlier. She imagines a friend and a guide, ‘Murrawee’. ‘We walk this same brown land – you and me, Murrawee.’ Murrawee means ‘elder sister’ in the language of the Ngarrindjeri people who live on the Murray River in South Australia.
Their lives are different but there are many similarities as well. We see two fathers teaching their sons useful skills, such as how to handle oars and how to trap fish. Both girls, the real and the imagined, follow animal tracks and we are shown Murrawee gathering duck eggs and reed roots from the river to be cooked in the campfire for their dinner which contrasts strongly to the modern day sausages and onions on the gas BBQ.
In the evening both girls settle near campfires, one to hear Dreaming stories of the river from her grandmother, the other to listen to songs on the radio. Both sleep in the ‘same hollow in the sand’, one between two fires and the other, warm in her sleeping bag. ‘We sleep under the same stars, unchanged yet ever changing … we breathe the same air you and me, Murrawee. But we will never meet, for we live two hundred years apart.’
Felicity Marshall’s illustrations in watercolour, gouache and coloured pencil beautifully compliment author, Kerri Hashmi’s gentle lyrical language. ‘You and Me Murrawee’ is a wonderfully observant reflection on what life on the Murray River may have been like 200 hundred years earlier.