Hulu’s period drama, ‘Faraway Downs’ takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster as we follow Lady Sarah Ashley in the unfamiliar terrain of a foreign country, where everything, from the people to the weather, poses a challenge in her path. Her intention is to get life back on track by getting her husband out of the cattle farm that he clings to, even though it is entirely in disarray and on the brink of bankruptcy. However, over the course of the journey, her life takes one unexpected turn after another. The time period and the location become important factors in her story, working as characters in their own way to push Sarah in a different direction than the one she’d set out for. SPOILERS AHEAD
When Does Faraway Downs Take Place?
‘Faraway Downs’ begins in 1939, around the time that the war started to brew in Europe. Lady Sarah Ashley is aware of her husband’s dwindling financial status and is frustrated with him hiding away in Australia and refusing to sell the place that is not making him any money. Despite the growing threat of war and her husband’s pleas to not leave England, she comes to the Land Down Under to settle things.
Sarah’s intention is to stay there for not more than a week. The plan is to visit Faraway Downs, take a look around to get a sense of the price it would fetch, and then sell it as quickly as possible to go back to England. However, things take an unexpected turn, and she ends up spending much more than a week there. In fact, her visit expands to years, with the show itself covering about two years of her life in Australia.
During this time, Sarah succeeds in reviving the cattle farm, making it profitable, and turning it into a home for herself and the staff that stays by her side through thick and thin. It also becomes a home for the Drover, with whom Sarah falls in love, despite their terrible first impressions of each other, and for Nullah, a young half-Aborigine, half-white boy who becomes Sarah’s son, all but in name.
After tracing Sarah’s journey through the turbulent first few weeks and then the happy years with her newfound family, life throws a series of challenges on Sarah and her loved ones. Tragedy strikes the town of Darwin when the Japanese forces arrive and heavily bomb the place. This is the year 1942, and by now, Sarah has rebuffed any intention of going back to England; Australia is her home now.
Where Does Faraway Downs Take Place?
The events in ‘Faraway Downs’ take place in Australia, with the fictional eponymous cattle farm serving as the main location. Flying from England, Lady Sarah Ashley lands in the port town of Darwin, from where she begins her treacherous journey to the cattle farm, which is more than a day’s ride from the town. The farm is huge and would have been profitable for the Ashleys if it wasn’t for the treachery of Neil Fletcher, who is employed by Lord Ashley but secretly works for his rival, King Carney.
As the story moves forward, Sarah is forced to leave the relative comfort of Faraway Downs and has to venture into the trying terrain that surrounds it, herding cattle and leading them to Darwin to sell them to the Army. This takes her and the audience through the deserts of Western and Northern Australia, including the Never Never desert in the Australian Outback, where Sarah and her people have to face unprecedented challenges to ensure their survival.
While Faraway Downs becomes her home and Sarah spends most part of her stay in Australia there, she also travels frequently to Darwin. She leaves the farm for the town in the final section of the story when Nullah is taken away by the authorities and sent to Mission Island with other mixed-race children. As war comes to Australia, Darwin becomes the victim of a severe bombing attack by Japan. The events that unfold during this time change everything for Sarah.