Burned Bridge (Heartland)


In the remote Australian town of Brooklyn Waters, NSW, a police officer and a radio producer investigate the horrifying murder of a young Aboriginal girl. As disturbing facts emerge during the investigation, unease between the white and black population begins to escalate and threatens to push the situation over the edge.

The 13-part series Burned Bridge offers a fascinating look into the contemporary life of people in a small town outside of Sydney.

The main characters are Beth Ashton, a newly divorced white Australian who has arrived to stay at the house she has just inherited, and Vincent Burunga, the town's police liaison officer for the Aboriginal community.

Just after Beth arrives, an Aborigine girl is killed, and the police apprehend the victim's Aborigine boyfriend for the crime on scant evidence. The murder and the arrest upset the community, and the story brings us into the life there, with its fragile relations between white and black, and other problems which trouble the community (unemployment, reliance on welfare, alcoholism, theft).

Among others, there is also a subplot where a real-estate agent discovers that he is half-Aboriginal and was taken away from his Indigenous family.

Mid-way through the Burned Bridge series, as the relationship between Beth and Vincent develops, Vincent returns to his native Western Australia on family business, and Beth accompanies him. This two-part interlude offers them a break from the daily existence and tensions back East, and provides the viewer with some stunning Outback landscapes and glimpses into Vincent's traditional culture.

Late in the series, Beth and Vincent go to Sydney, where Beth has to deal with family business of her own. It is here that she also has to reassess ties to the people back in her urban world.

Throughout the many important events played out in Burned Bridge (divorce, murder, traditions, Stolen Generations, friendship, and love) a theme of awareness about strained relationships and inequalities between white and black people living in Australia is ever present as the characters face hardships and burn the bridges of their pasts.

This is one of the best series you can get hold of to learn about life in Australia and the difficulties between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.


Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth 'Beth' Ashton
Ernie Dingo - Vincent Burunga
Justine Saunders - Millie Carmichael
Bob Maza - Alf Dyer
David Kennedy - Robert Sutton
David Ngoombujarra - Mujadi Burunga
Nicholas Papademetriou - Harry Bradshaw
Paul Caesar - Macka Hargreaves
Rachel Maza - Leila Sutton
Steven Vidler - Phil McCarthy
Wesley Patten - Chris Dyer
Bradley Byquar - Ricky Dyer
Luke Carroll - Jason Sutton
Kevin Smith - Shorty Carmichael
Mark Fitzpatrick - Dennis
Known Indigenous actors are bold.
Release dates
2003 - Australia
Video/DVD release date
26 August 2003
1994 AFI Award Winner: Best Achievement in Direction in Television Drama: Julian Pringle Episode 7 1994 AFI Award Co-winner: Best Episode in Television Drama series, Episode 7
M - Mature

The Burned Bridge series is also known as Heartland.

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2019, Burned Bridge (Heartland), <>, retrieved 3 July 2020

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