December 9, 2015 media writing, creative design, wimmera mallee pipeline, melissa pouliot

International bestselling Australian author Melissa Pouliot not only writes crime fiction, she also writes true life stories.

For Life…how we got the water back is a non-fiction coffee table style book which tells the stories of the people behind the largest Australian water infrastructure project of its time.


There is also an audio version, voiced beautifully by Sandra Moon from Country Today with an introduction by former Wimmera Mail-Times editor Danny Lannen and music by Peter Gosling and The Lazy Farmer’s Sons (Ben and Andy Gosling). Travis Britt from Create Infinity did a sensational job in producing this unique piece of Australian history in audio format.

PURCHASE book-audio package

We have a book/audio package available for $45 plus postage, which you can order HERE.

wimmera mallee pipeline project, water project, Wimmera, Mallee, book, CD, history

Want to know more?

Read on for more about the launch of this book which brings to life the historical significance of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline Project.

Wimmera Mallee Pipeline Project comes to “LIFE”

Friday November 25, 2011

More than 60 people from across Victoria and interestate rose early, with the rain pitter pattering on their rooves, to drive north to Lake Hindmarsh – what could be described as the Wimmera Mallee’s “Lake Eyre” for the launch of a book about people…and about pipes.

The rain, cold wind and mud only allowed us a sneak peak at this beautiful lake. But thanks to the quick action of the Jeparit Town Committee led by capable local Mick Gawith we were relocated within 10 minutes to the warm spacious shed at the Wimmera Mallee Pioneers Museum for this grand occasion.

Former Wimmera Mail-Times editor Danny Lannen did the honours of launching our book about the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline Project. Below is a snippet of what he said and further down in this post is his complete launch speech:

“Its title has remained a closely gaurded state secret but it’s my privilege to reveal that to you now. It’s called “For life…how we got the water back” and in my view that’s just a wonderful personal title.
It’s got that reference with scope and implications which could never be measured – FOR LIFE.
It has the big, big word WATER but right in the middle of that title it’s got that massive two-letter word WE.
Piping was all about WE and US and community and partnership and that future, and all of that shines through the words within these covers.”


Thanks to GWMWater for their support of this project – without your financial assistance, we would not have been able to produce a publication of this quality and standard. Thank you in particular to Helen Friend, Colleen Eagle, Gillian Vanderwaal and Suzanne Bysouth.


ABC local radio and Ace Radio were great supporters of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline Project and got really exicted about our book launch.

Below are several radio interviews with Melissa in the lead-up to the launch of For Life…how we got the water back.

  • Click HERE to download an interview with Sandra Moon from Country Today, part of the Ace Radio network. Melissa and Sandra caught up several times. Listen to their interview.
  • You can also click HERE to download a radio interview with Jess Simons from Country Today, live from the launch of “For life…how we got the water back”.

There’s a word I love which relates to rivers. By Danny Lannen

It’s not riparian, though that’s a very nice one, it’s not meandering although many of them do, It’s confluence.

Rivers don’t have intersections they have something more elegant, they have confluences, where one flows into another, creating something bigger, stronger, swifter, possibly more dangerous and probably more powerful.

After a series of confluences you might have something mighty and it’s funny how you can see the same in life on terra firma sometimes.

The mighty Wimmera River had its most powerful and influential dryland series of confluences of the past two centuries before our very own witness eyes not so long ago.

Strength flowed into strength, flowed into strength and it became a national and very worthy international example of solidarity and purpose, of partnerships, of objective, of innovation, bipartisan teamwork for a greater good, of understanding, of care for environment and of care for human livelihood.

It was the Wimmera-Mallee pipeline project and thanks to this fine book its story is not only illuminated for now but also locked away for generations to know and admire into the future, told in very human terms.

Might I say right at the outset that I feel like a little bit of a fraud up here talking to people such as yourselves about a project such as this and a book so intimate with that projects workings.

As editor of the Wimmera Mail-Times I had a bit to do with the piping campaign as it accelerated but then moved away with work before it reached its crescendo, and watched in quiet but sincere wonder as kilometre by kilometre this incredible masterpiece replaced the jaded masterpiece of the old.

Everything was just about empty when we left the Wimmera. Green, Dock, Toolondo, Hindmarsh, Albacutya – there’s a joke! – Rocklands a puddle, Bellfield a puddle, farm dams dry and that beautiful artery known as the Wimmera River was a decaying skeleton with barely a confluence at all.

It’s not for me to tell you about those days but in a way being away afforded a more dramatic view each time on return when finally the rain fell and pipes went to work.

That way it seemed like lakes were empty one week, half full the next. The riverbed was a place for a troubled walk one month, a joyful paddle the next.

You hear things from down the highway, storage percentages rising and all that, but seeing it has become some sort of believing, and what a beautiful scene.

How sweet it was to be reading from a distance about people triumphantly following the fresh new trickle of the Wimmera River.

Hearing that virtually holy statement “piped it” was almost incredible but probably watching from afar the thing through all of this journey back that’s made all this most real to me, and I’m not exactly sure why, is that Toolondo’s back, with water, with trout.

Luxury, and now there’s this stuff called growth water for sale.

Still Albacutya and beyond remains the dream, and its one of many dreams which find expression at the heart of this book we’re here to celebrate and to launch today.

Its title has remained a closely guarded state secret but it’s my privilege to reveal that to you now.

It’s called For Life. How We Got The Water Back and in my view that’s just a wonderful personal title.

It’s got that reference with scope and  implications which could never be measured – For Life.

It has the big, big word Water but right in the middle of that title it’s got that massive two-letter word We.

Piping was all about We, and Us and community and partnership and future, and all of that shines through the words within these covers.

For Life, How We Got The Water Back has been beautifully printed in Horsham by Chris O’Connor and his team at Wimmera Design and Print. It is stunningly designed by Lara Walsh of MP Media Solutions.

Its dramatic photography bears the mesmerising watermark of the acclaimed David Fletcher and For Life, How We Got The Water Back was written with insight and measure of passion by my former Wimmera Mail-Times colleague Melissa Pouliot.

Many of you would know Melissa and her great affinity for and understanding of rural issues and rural politics.

That understanding is a thread quietly connecting the many voices which come to life in this work.

This book contains one of the most exciting timelines I’ve ever read. It points back to 1890s and then gallops ever forward with confluences galore to the business end – Drilling. Trenching. Laying. 60Km, 500km, 1000, 7000, 9100 and water carting obsolete.

The strides are almost visible, and the voices of the people behind them are so important.

Those voices are the driving forces behind piping, they are people of the land,  they are people of office, they are husbands, wives, parents, grandparents.

They live, they work, they strive, they struggle, they manage, they aspire.

They are visionaries and their testimonies illuminate a journey which met so many obstacles and navigated them all.

Sometimes their words are just right. How could any such book come together without the delicate treat of Boof Argall growling about stopping the bloody bullshit forever.

Or without the delight of Goff Letts and John Konings up in the ACT going head to head talking piping politics with some Canberra bureaucrat who was wearing, yes, a shiny Mickey Mouse tie

Or without the impassioned reasoning of Chris Hewitt who shares a statement which for me is like a foundation stone in this book.

“People quickly forget how much time we lost filling dams and pumping water from the channels.” he says.

“Yes, it is costing farmers to connect to the pipeline and it’s a big change to what we’re used to.

“But we are not a Third World country. If we can’t have water in our rivers, water for our farms and water for our towns there is something wrong.”

Something might have been wrong for a while there but belief has put it right, For Life.

Ladies & Gentlemen. Books are important.

Books tell the story and they bear witness for time, testimony for generations, lessons from the past.

When these pipes wear out – when will that be anyone – theyve got the template here on how to move the mountain and do something about it.

This books a bit like a river, a metaphor for a winding journey, it’s all about confluence and influence and persistence and  it leads to something mighty.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I salute you all, I congratulate Melissa and her team and formally launch and commend to you For Life, How We Got The Water Back.