Applications of ergodic reasoning (or location for time substitution) aid efforts at environmental reconstruction and prediction, providing a useful tool to analyse and communicate stages of landscape evolution. Analysis of the historical range of behaviour and change that a river system has experienced can be used to interpret thresholds that have been breached, and underlying controls and/or triggers for adjustment and change. This information can be used to forecast future trajectories of adjustment and provide target conditions for management activities. This paper uses a case study from upper Wollombi Brook, New South Wales, Australia to demonstrate how ergodic reasoning can be used to assess river behaviour, change and responses to natural and human-disturbances. The 'river evolution diagram' developed by Brierley and Fryirs (Geomorphology and River Management: Applications of the River Styles Framework. Blackwell Publishing: Oxford, 2005) is presented as a means for depicting the range of behaviour and evolutionary variability of this river. These approaches can be readily applied in other systems. Implications for approaches to analysis of river evolution and management are outlined.