‘Faraway Downs’ Ending Explained & Series Summary: Why Didn’t Nullah Stay With Sarah?


Directed by Baz Luhrmann, Faraway Downs tells the tale of how, during colonial rule, the British regime made a narrative that suited their vendettas and found a way to oppress people in the name of law and order. During the British colonial era, many nations went through the same ordeal. Some were able to fight it, and some were oppressed throughout their lives, but all of them bore the wounds that they knew would take an eternity to heal. So, let’s see what Lady Sarah Ashley witnessed when she went to the beautiful and untamed land of Australia and how she helped the cause of the native people.

Spoiler Alert

What happened when Sarah reached Australia?

Lady Sarah Ashley came to Australia, a place she had only heard about from her husband, Maitland Ashley. Lord Ashley used to run a cattle station in a place called Faraway Downs, which was in the middle of nowhere. It was important for Sarah to understand the complex local and national politics of the place if she wanted to find her footing and understand the motives that drove people. It could be said that King Carney had a monopoly over the beef industry, and only Lord Ashley’s farm was still not owned by him. He had been eyeing that property for a very long time, but Maitland didn’t want to sell it as he had different plans for the place. Lord Ashley had told Sarah to meet a man named Drover, who would be her guide for the journey from Darwin to Faraway Downs.

Sarah, coming from an entirely different culture and environment, was shocked to see the hooliganism of the place. People were rough and rowdy with each other, and the etiquette and manners that were the pride of the British Empire took a backseat in the dry and arid land down under. Sarah bumped into Drover when the latter was in between a brawl, and it felt like the woman was astonished beyond any measure to realize that such a world also existed. Jack Clancy was called Drover because he specialized in driving cattle from one point to another. He said that he worked on a commission basis, and he took pride in the fact that no one could hire him or fire him. He loaded Lady Ashley’s suitcases in his truck, and they embarked on a rather adventurous journey together. With them was Maggari, who was Drover’s late wife’s brother, and they also picked up the drunk accountant, Kipling Fynn, on the way. The journey was long and tough, and not even in her wildest dreams had Sarah imagined that she was going to see such things in life.

How did Sarah Ashley become Missus boss?

They finally reached Faraway Downs, and Sarah came to know that her husband had been killed by an Aborigin named King George. Sarah met Neil Fletcher, the manager of the farm, who told her that they were incurring huge losses and that it would be better for Sarah to leave the place immediately as a murderer was on the loose. But Drover objected to it, saying that he had only agreed to bring Lady Sarah because he was told that he could take the cattle back to Darwin and get paid a huge amount of money. Drover had his ways and means, and he pricked Sarah’s ego that made her stay for a day. There was an Aboriginal boy named Nullah whose mother worked at Faraway Downs, but he was hiding because he was scared of Fletcher. He wanted to tell Sarah something, but he wasn’t able to find the opportunity.

In the night, when he saw that nobody was around, he met Sarah and told her that Fletcher was not the honest man she believed him to be. Though he was not able to prove the fact that Fletcher was involved in foul play beyond reasonable doubt, he did say that his grandfather, King George, said that Fletcher brought bad luck to the land, but due to Sarah’s presence, the land had started healing. The next day, when Fletcher came, he negated all the claims made by Nullah and asked Lady Sarah to leave. But Nullah was not ready to give up so easily; he climbed the old windmill and started it, proving that Fletcher had lied earlier when he said that it didn’t work. Fletcher got agitated, and he chased Nullah to teach him a lesson. Sarah came in between, and now that she realized that Fletcher was cheating her and her husband, she asked him to leave her land. From that moment on, Lady Sarah was no longer the princess of tinsel town, but she became Missus boss, as Nullah addressed her. Sarah was an empathetic woman and now that her husband was not there, she believed that the farm and the people who worked there were her responsibility. 

Who killed Maitland Ashley?

Fletcher had framed King George and made everybody believe that he was the one who had killed Lord Ashley. Considering the prejudices people had against the Aborigines, it was convenient for everybody to believe that he would have done the deed. Who would even suspect a white man to be behind such an uncivilized and brutal act? Fletcher’s behavior was a testimony to the fact that the entire colonial narrative was literally a bunch of lies told by people who wanted to be in a position of power. It had become their habit to first capture a land that did not belong to them and then torture the native communities to give up on their culture and do as they did. They took pride in the fact that they were colonial superpowers, but as a matter of fact, they were a bunch of criminals who had normalized committing crimes.

People like King George wanted to stay one with nature. They were not intruding on anybody’s business, but the proud white men hailing from Great Britain didn’t know their limits, and they plundered each and every place they stepped foot on. Fletcher was going to get married to King Carney’s daughter, and he wanted Faraway Downs for himself. For three generations, his family had served on the farm, and now he believed that it was about time he got what he deserved. Even before he killed Lord Ashley, he stole cattle from the farm and, on purpose, made Kipling put in the account books that they were incurring huge losses. The cattle never crossed the Mamount River, as beyond that was the Carney territory, and Nullah had witnessed it happening. Also, the weapon that had been used by Fletcher to kill Lord Ashley wasn’t used by the Aborigines, and that’s why Sarah and Drover believed that he was the one who was behind the murder.

Was Sarah able to sell her cattle to the army?

Lady Sarah knew how to ride, and that is why she took on the challenge of delivering the cattle to the army before King Carney made the deal. The plan was that she would sell her cattle and spend the rest of her life in peace. The only issue was that King Carney was about to make a deal, and they had to reach Darwin before he could do that. Drover told Sarah that they didn’t have as many men as needed and that it was an impossible feat to take the cattle through the harsh terrain. But Sarah wasn’t going to back off, and she was ready to put everything at stake. From Kipling to Nullah, everybody got on the horses, and it was decided that Drover would teach everybody what to do and lead the way. They had to encounter a sandstorm and extreme weather, and as if the natural barriers were not enough, Fletcher caused more trouble by scaring the cattle by setting the bushes on fire. The cattle started running towards the edge of the cliff, but somehow, Nullah was miraculously able to stop them from jumping. It proved the kind of bond the Aborigines shared with the flora and fauna and how the white men could only dream of achieving that. Though the disaster was avoided, Kipling lost his life as he fell from his horse and got trampled on by the cattle. Somehow, Sarah and her team were able to reach Darwin, but they found out that Captain Emmett Dutton had already signed the contract with King Carney. But there was a loophole in the contract that said that unless and until the cattle were loaded on the ship, the transaction was not complete. So, there was a race between Sarah’s and Carney’s cattle, and the former made a near escape and sealed the victory.

Was Fletcher able to buy Sarah’s farm?

Fletcher had realized that until his father-in-law was alive, he wouldn’t let him act according to his whims and fancies. King Carney had made his daughter the heir of his empire, and he told Fletcher upfront that he didn’t have any trust in his abilities. Fletcher pushed King Carney into the swampy water and let the crocodiles eat him up alive. He told everybody that his father-in-law had an accident, and he couldn’t do anything about it. Fletcher wanted Faraway Downs, and he was trying his level best to get some leverage over Sarah so that he could coerce her to make the deal. Meanwhile, in Faraway Downs, Drover had made it very clear that he loved his freedom and that he wanted to drive the cattle for the better part of the year. Sarah felt bad about it, as she wanted him to stay with her, but she still didn’t come in his way. Drover was too scared to embrace his own feelings, and he felt that Sarah would also leave him if he told her how much he loved her.

The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbour by that time, and their next target was Australia. According to the segregation laws, the mixed-blood kids were taken to Mission Island, where the authorities knew that the Japanese would attack in all probability. But who cared about those Aborigines, as it was only the lives of the white folks that mattered? Sarah got separated from Nullah, and she wept and shouted, but to no avail. Seeing the opportunity, Fletcher came to her and said that he could bring the kid back if she signed a contract with him, making him the owner of the Faraway Downs. Sarah said that she would sign the contract only if Fletcher got all the kids and not just Nullah. This gesture spoke a thousand words about the kind of woman Sarah was. It was because of people like her that a few innocent lives were saved.

Soon after that, Mission Island and even the town of Darwin were attacked, and when Drover came to the town, he was told that Sarah had not survived. But she was pretty much alive, as at the very last moment, she had asked Fletcher’s wife to take her position as she wanted to go to Mission Island. Similarly, even Sarah was told that neither Nullah nor Drover were alive, but just as she was about to get on the truck that was going to take her back, she heard a familiar tune. It was Nullah who was playing his harmonica, and Sarah was elated to find out that both her lifelines were alive. Sarah was reunited with Nullah and Drover, and it made Fletcher infuriated beyond any measure. He decided that if he couldn’t get the farm, at least he could make sure that he got the sadistic pleasure of killing Nullah with his own hands. He loaded his gun, but King George saw him doing that and threw a sharp iron rod at him, which killed him. King Geroge shouted in his native tongue that Fletcher was the father of Nullah as if he wanted him to accept the truth from which he had been running his entire life. Fletcher and other white men like him considered the native woman to be their property but if they got pregnant they didn’t take any responsibility for it. Such was the hypocrisy of those men and they literally ruined the lives of a lot of innocent people. 

Before Fletcher died he had fired a bullet at Nullah, and it hit Drover, who came in the way to protect the kid. Drover sacrificed his life so that the two people he loved the most could live happily ever after. While taking his last breaths, Drover told Sarah that he loved her and how he wished he had spent an entire lifetime with her.

Why didn’t Nullah stay with Sarah?

There was a time when Sarah just wanted Nullah to stay with her and not go for the Aboriginal Walkabout, as she was too scared that something would happen to him. But by the end, she realized that neither the assimilation policy nor her stopping Nullah was the right thing. Aboriginal Walkabout was a part of the native culture, and Sarah realized that just because she wanted Nullah to be around, she couldn’t snatch that right from him.

During Faraway Downs‘ ending, Nullah left Sarah, and went with his grandfather to embark on a journey that aimed to facilitate his transition from adolescence to adulthood. It was a fact: each and every community had the right to live according to their culture and beliefs, and it was an absolute violation of human rights to impose things on them that they were not accustomed to. The Aborigines, and especially the Stolen Generation, went through a great deal of oppression and torture. The children were taken; they were forced to adopt the ways and means of the West; they were asked to leave their homes and their parents; and they were looked down upon as if they were insects not worthy of living. On February 13, 2008, the government, under the leadership of Kevin Rudd, extended an official apology to the entire community. Though acceptance of the state in itself was a huge step forward politically, the reality was that it was too late and too little, and those who had suffered knew that nothing could undo what had already been done.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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