Based on the novel by Nancy Cato, All the Rivers Run begins in 1892 with young Englishwoman Philadelphia 'Delie' Gordon struggling to the Australian shore after being shipwrecked. Except for crusty old sailor Tom Critchley, the shipwreck kills all the other people on the ship, including Delie's family. Delie is subsequently taken in by her kindly Uncle Charles and termagant Aunt Hester, whose small farm is situated beside the Murray River, near the inland port of Echuca. The narrative follows Delie for the next decade or so of her life. She suffers through the difficulties of adolescent love and rebels against conformity, and eventually marries, has children, and pursues a career on the river. Delie later attains commercial and critical success as a painter and earns her Master's Certificate, becoming the first female riverboat captain on the Murray River.