Scrublands: Is Riversend a Real Town in Australia?

Sundance Now/AMC+’s thriller series ‘Scrublands’ is set in Riversend. The town’s residents are shaken after a priest named Byron Swift kills five parishioners. The dry, unjoyful ambiance of Riversend mirrors the lives of the townsfolk as they are yet to move on from the haunting tragedy. Even though the region appears highly realistic, it is a fictional town Chris Hammer created for his novel of the same name. However, the author’s creation is rooted in reality. Greg McLean, who directed the show, then enhanced the features of Riversend by shooting the thriller in an unparalleled location!

Riversend: Where Reality Merges With Fiction

Chris Hammer conceived Riversend after researching the Murray–Darling Basin in southeastern Australia for his non-fiction book, ‘The River.’ He traveled through the basin, which includes the drainage basin of the tributaries of the Murray River and Darling River, Australia’s longest and third-longest rivers, respectively. The experience of traveling through the place led him to witness the lives of people who live near the dying rivers. These people and their lives affected Hammer enough to conceive a story set in a similar region, paving the way for Riversend’s birth.


“I had this idea of setting a story in the middle of a drought, surprised that more authors hadn’t used the drought as a background, because it went for so long, it’s still going really,” Hammer told The Sydney Morning Herald. The characteristics of the Murray–Darling Basin became the foundation of Riversend. “And I wanted this sense of isolation, a confined township, oppressive, that feeling of being trapped,” the author added. In the novel, the town is located in Riverina in New South Wales, an Australian state significantly covered by the basin. However, the Riversend locales in ‘Scrublands’ are not in New South Wales.

Maldon, a town located in the state of Victoria, doubles for Riversend in the thriller series. The region is nearly eight hundred kilometers away from New South Wales. Renowned as Australia’s first notable town, Maldon is known for its highly distinguished 19th-century appearance, which is evident in the first episode as Martin Scarsden arrives in the heart of the place. Maldon became a part of the Victorian Gold Rush after the valuable metal was found in Cairn Curran. Several regions and establishments in the town are featured in the show, starting with High Street.

A local bookstore named The Book Wolf, located at 1/26 High Street, stands in for Mandy Bond’s Oasis Bookshop & Café, the first store Martin enters after arriving in Riversend. Robert Cox Motors can be seen in the background when the journalist looks for Constable Robbie Haus-Jones. In reality, St. James Catholic Church, where Father Byron kills five individuals, is St. Brigid’s Catholic Church, located at 5-7 Chapel Street. Maldon Hospital also makes an appearance as Riversend Hospital in the show.

“When we arrived, there was a kind of guilty feeling, because we were turning the beautiful country town of Maldon into the long-suffering little town of Riversend, which is not always talked about favorably in the show,” Luke Arnold, who plays Martin, told Midland Express about turning Maldon to Riversend. “We very quickly started swapping stories about which bakery to get a pie from, and it didn’t take long for the various pubs and cafes to be like, ‘Oh you’re back again.’ We did work very long days and the big struggle was trying to get somewhere for dinner before these lovely little country towns closed up,” the actor added.

Read More: Scrublands: Is Oasis an Actual Bookshop and Café in Australia?