Family saga tracing fifty years of the Eastwick family, beginning when Richard Eastwick flees the industrial pressures of the late nineteenth-century English Midlands to pursue a life as a drover and land-owner in the Australian outback, only to face a succession of losses: the death of his first wife in childbirth, the death of his eldest son in World War I, the kidnapping of his daughter by her deranged maternal grandfather, the death of his second son in World War II, the accidental drowning of his third son and eldest grandson on the family property, his youngest grandson's (and son-in-law's) death as a prisoner of war in World War II, and the eventual destruction of his dynastic hopes when his only remaining grandchild becomes a nun and devotes herself to a life of celibacy and poverty.
Moran, in his Guide to Australian TV Series, notes that
The Dirtwater Dynasty has been variously likened to a morality tale from the Bible, a western, an epic tragedy; an adventure story; and much else -- and certainly, as hybrid, The Dirtwater Dynasty is variously all or none of these things. In fact, The Dirtwater Dynasty, despite containing all kinds of richnesses in the shape of idea, characterisations, incidents and narrative subtexts, is finally much less than the sum of its parts. Indeed with The Cowra Breakout, it is finally the least interesting and rewarding of the Kennedy Miller mini-series.