The lower Murray River (Australia) has been subject to considerable change from human activities, including the conversion of a variable flow system to one with regulated water levels and the conversion of the estuary to a freshwater system. These conditions will face further pressures owing to reduced flows and higher sea levels associated with climate change. Policy decisions to retain present target conditions could be reconsidered to improve habitat conditions for wetlands, native fish and waterbirds. Contrary to many views, this would be permissible under the Ramsar Convention and, by increasing the diversity of conditions, may assist managers to retain functional systems. This paper encourages a new conversation across the broader community to develop pathways to prepare for emerging pressures on the riverine ecosystems, and move into anthropogenic futures for the Lower Murray.