Using critical systems heuristics as a sense-making framework, we explored historical and contemporary aspects of the water managing situation as viewed from the Goulburn-Broken Catchment - part of the Australia s Murray-Darling Basin. This revealed key differences in how our respondents perceived what the situation is and what it ought to be, especially in relation to the centralisation of decision-making power. We explored aspects of the Victorian Salinity Program as a preliminary case study through the theoretical lens of social learning . This revealed many parallels to how respondents thought the current situation ought to be. In comparison, there was a perception that the situation as it currently is has experienced a shift back to more centralised policy and management, both at the state and federal levels, which creates challenges for the governance of water resources across the Murray-Darling Basin and presents the opportunity for social learning to again play a transformative role.