Hulu’s ‘Faraway Downs’ follows Lady Sarah Ashley’s tumultuous journey on the cattle farm owned by her husband in Australia. She comes there, completely focused on doing away with the place and going back home, but things change as she discovers that the farm could turn into a profitable venture. Another thing that keeps Lady Ashley in Australia is her affection for Nullah, a young boy who becomes her adopted son. Over the course of the next couple of years, Sarah and Nullah’s journeys become so intertwined that it becomes impossible for them to imagine a life without each other. But in the end, Nullah has to walk his own path. SPOILERS AHEAD
Nullah Bids a Temporary Goodbye to Sarah Ashley
Being a mixed-race child, Nullah’s life and future are continuously under threat. He is the son of Neil Fletcher, who keeps their connection hidden from the rest of the world, fearing being outcast from society because of it. Fletcher knows that Nullah’s presence is not good for him and tries to turn him over to the authorities. Due to this, his mother always keeps him out of Fletcher’s sight. But when Sarah Ashley comes to Faraway Downs, Nullah recognizes the possibility of change, and this puts him in harm’s way.
When Sarah discovers what happens to children like Nullah, she tries to protect him from the outside world. When his mother dies, Sarah takes him under her wing and they develop a bond much like a mother and son’s. Over time, Sarah’s love for Nullah leads her to become increasingly protective of him, and she becomes agitated whenever the idea of sending him somewhere is posed. What Sarah doesn’t realize is that Nullah is half-Aborigine, and that calls for him to stay in touch with his roots.
At one point, when Sarah, the Drover, and Nullah are happily living in Faraway Downs, the boy’s grandfather, King George, calls out to him for a walkabout. It is a rite of passage undertaken by young boys, which is essential to their identity and culture. The prospect of going away for months and living in god knows what condition makes Sarah anxious about Nullah. She doesn’t want him to leave, however, the Drover is aware of this custom and asserts that Nullah must go on the walkabout. This causes a rift between the Drover and Sarah, and Nullah leaves, however, he is taken away by the authorities and sent to Mission Island.
Eventually, Nullah is rescued, and he comes back home to Faraway Downs. Once again, his grandfather calls out to him, and this time, Sarah has no choice but to let him go. By now, she has understood that she cannot control everything and she cannot force her own beliefs on Nullah, who has his own community and customs to follow. By forcing him away from it, she’d basically be doing exactly what the people on Mission Island wanted to do to him. So, this time, despite whatever reservations she might have, she lets the boy go.
Nullah knows that he must go on the walkabout, but he also tells Sarah that this is not the end of their story. He promises to sing her to him, which means that he will eventually come back to her, and for as long as he is away, he will keep her in his heart. She, too, promises to listen for his song and welcome him with open arms whenever he comes back to her. They say their goodbyes, and Nullah begins his months-long journey with his grandfather, where he’ll learn the ways of nature and maybe even hone the magic he believes he, just like his grandfather, has.