Tag Archives: floods

I Love a Sunburnt Country

It will come as no surprise to readers of the archive that I love my country.

Sometimes a few of my fellow countrymen aggravate me. More often I am proud of the tasks they accomplish.

Yet to me Australia is not just people. It is a living, breathing, cantankerous continent. With resources and wonderful vistas where mankind has touched lightly upon its surface.

Even today with people dying in the increasingly serious Queensland floods and property and livestock being destroyed in Western Australia’s bush fires. True heroism is being shown by all the police, fireys, defence personnel and volunteers who are helping in terrible conditions.

I love my country. As did Dorothea Mackellar who wrote the poem below.

I love every part of this poem. Yet the line which is running through my head today is “Her beauty and her terror.”

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Thanks to @lakitambourke for the original thought which went on to produce this post.

The News From Australia. Can You Help?

(Updated 13th Feb 2009)

The news from the East coast of Australia gets worse and worse.

For a week there have been floods in Northern Queensland r337361_1530654with the town of Ingham totally submerged. Yesterday the waters had subsided enough to allow a clean-up to begin and last night there were another 109mm of rain in their catchment area. The town is submerged again.

Three people are  dead in the floods, including a 5 yo boy who may have been taken by a crocodile which had swum up-river.

The floods are finally receding and some clean-up work has begun.r337394_1530874

Further south, in New South Wales there are nearly 60 fires burning and huge areas of forest and farmland have been burnt out. Things are also easing here and luckily there seems to be no loss of life involved.

Yet all this pales into insignificance to the Victorian tragedy.r337173_1529337

As I write this, the death toll from the fire storms of yesterday (Saturday) has reached 65  (Now it is 93 111 126 173 181) with still more people missing. The final toll is now expected to top 200 (there is some talk of the toll reaching 300). There are hundreds of people in hospitals around Victoria suffering burns. Some will probably not make it. r337269_1530024Nearly 700 (Now 800 1067 over 1800)  homes have been destroyed. 7,000 people are homeless. Stock and crops have been destroyed. Entire towns have been wiped out.

The heat from what was the very hottest day ever recorded in Melbourne was compounded by strong northerly winds which pushed the fires which had been burning for several days south towards Melbourne.r337418_1531020 A Southerly change, cooler but with extreme winds blew the fire around into new directions. Flying embers started new fires five and six kilometres from the original fronts. More than a hundred thousand four hundred thousand hectares (for those still using the old measurements, that is around half a two million acres) have been burnt out. People, whole townships, were often caught completely by surprise.

There are still (Friday am, six days after the terrible events of last Saturday) over thirty fires burning and the weather next week bushfires6looks bad. Hot and windy again with still more townsites within range of the current fires.

On a personal level, I have been amazed by the individual responses to these disasters. I had a look at the ABC’s Blog and cried at the spontaneous generosity shown by people.

The Red Cross and the Salvation Army have both set up appeals for donations for emergency funds to help the victims. The Red Cross has not yet updated its web-site so I will update the link to them as soon as I can. bushfires7In the meantime, if you are in Australia, phone donations to the Red Cross can be made on 1800 811 700.

Although we are in difficult financial times, there are people affected by this disaster who have lost everything. Help out if you can. Please.

This post will remain on top of the archive and be updated for about a week. Fellow bloggers, feel free to repost this as widely as possible.

So Not Back in Civilisation Tonight

Yesterday I posted a short video of my house being struck by lightning. I found it amusing and laughed about it. The rain stopped, the storm went on its way and I thought only a little about the fact that it was moving along the road I was due to travel on this afternoon.

The nearest  good airstrip with planes flying to Perth is at a big mine site just over 100 Km away, along a fairly rough bush track. I was booked to fly out this afternoon at 5pm. Knowing I had a hard drive ahead of me, I went to bed early-ish. Around 11pm. The plan was to leave around noon and allow about four hours for the trip. Just in case.

About half past midnight I was jolted into full and complete wakefulness by a huge crash of thunder. Rain was falling. A full cloudburst. Lightning was splitting the desert darkness in an almost continual show. I reached under my pillow and confirmed that my torch was to hand. The sudden quiet as the air conditioners died confirmed that the power station had been hit and the power was off.

I opened the curtains and watched the display. After counting over thirty flashes in one minute I ran out of count. The rain became heavier and the time between lightning and thunder became shorter. I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep because of the combined noise of thunder and rain.

As the rain continued I began worrying about the track I had to drive along. Once I travelled that road and there was a ten kilometre lake along it. Luckily it was only a little more than axle deep but at 3am (Is THAT the Time? I MUST get some sleep!) one worries about finding the road beneath the water. Eventually the rain eased after a torrential 100-200 mm and the thunder moved away.

I woke late, at around 7.30. I knew the mail plane was due just after 8am so I skipped breakfast and settled for a quick coffee. I had drunk about half of it when the plane flew overhead. Peter, one of the teachers was first on the road and led the way. I was in second place and the nurse, with lab samples to send off for testing was in third place. We passed through several quite large puddles and then reached the “causeway”.

A small explanation. There is a river which runs between the Community and the road out to civilisation and the road to the airstrip. There are three large pipes beneath the road to carry away the water.

We reached where we knew the causeway lay but it was invisible beneath a couple of feet of rapidly flowing muddy water. Peter stopped to drop into 4wheel drive, I did the same. The nurse had to get out to turn her hubs to get into 4 wheel drive. I failed to realise that she hadn’t been able to turn those hubs. I followed where Peter had driven, partly through the broken water on the downstream side because I felt the road, while rough, may have been a little more solid than on the upstream side. I got through and looked in my rear view mirror and saw the nurse’s car at a 45 degree angle. She had fallen off the road on the upstream side.

Turning around, I went back and she was able to throw her postal packages across into my car and then she was able to step from her passenger’s side door onto my running board and then into the car. Understandably, she was a little shaken. Had her car tipped just a little more it would have gone right over on the driver’s side and she could easily have drowned!

We did the mail plane thing and then went back to look at the damage.


About this time I began to consider my own trip in the afternoon. This was deeper water than I had ever seen on the causeway and that began to seem a bad omen for what may lie out on the road. Especially since I would be travelling alone. I decided that the Red-Back beer I was looking forward to was not all that important. So I phoned the relevant person and cancelled my flight! When the boss returns on Monday we can sort out how I get out of the desert. He is driving back in. I may fly out on Tuesday’s mail plane. Providing he gets here.

After several hours and the use of a front end loader we got the Toyota out of its predicament. Then we headed off to the School Principal’s home which had caught fire after being struck by lightning. But that is another story.

Unusually, the skies were clear this afternoon. We have had both afternoon and night storms for the past three days. Which bodes well for the state of the roads after the weekend. A couple of dry days and the roads will be quite usable. The boss will have it easy.

Except, that at sunset tonight, I noticed a gathering of clouds all around the horizon with some rising thunderheads and falling showers of rain.

It is now an hour after sunset and I can hear the distant growls of thunder moving closer. The TV reception has died and I think I hear the rain beginning to ping on my roof.



An engineer and a lawyer were recently fishing in the Caribbean. The fishing was outstanding and they got to talking about their vacations.

The lawyer said, “I’m here because my house burned down, and everything I owned was destroyed by the blazing fire. The insurance company paid for everything.”

That’s quite a coincidence,” said the engineer. “I’m here because my house and all my belongings were destroyed by a raging flood, and my insurance company also paid for everything.”

The puzzled lawyer asked, “How DO you start a flood?”