A Country of Contrasts

I’m sitting here in NSW, in a drought stricken town, refreshing my browser intermittently to check on the status of Townsville, in far north Queensland, where our daughter lives.

It’s so dry here that many of our local farmers have sold the vast majority of their stock. Our watercourses are dry, and the landscape fluctuates between brown/yellow, and then, if we have a few millimetres of rain, green for a day, before the heat kicks in again and burns it all brown again.

Sometimes (today) it looks like the landscape is fine (we had four mm yesterday), but by tomorrow afternoon, and two days of 36/38 degrees celcius temperatures, it’ll be burnt off again. And we’ve had so little rain for the last twelve months that the ground is so dry that it sucks every tiny little bit of water up when it falls.

There is no water in most farm dams, and the local dam (our water supply) is currently at 56.9%.

In contrast, Townsville has been buried under the monsoon for the last week, with no end in sight. At the latest check, the Ross River dam was at 240% and rising.

And of course, that’s where our daughter and her partner live. They’re relatively close to the Ross River, which is about to have the spillway gates opened automatically due to the insane volume of water currently flowing into it. According to the map the council has released, they’re in the inundation area, but hopefully the height of the ground will keep them from too much water, but this flood is completely unprecedented, so no-one really knows. And they do live in a first floor apartment, which is good.

Townsville has had over one metre of rain recently. One metre! I struggle to comprehend how much water that is – it’s an astounding number. And that’s a metre in only the last week. Our daughter told us that they had 215mm on Friday alone. And now the forecast is warning about the possibility of tornadoes.

And as that’s occurring, Tasmania is trying to burn down.

At one end of the country, houses are burning down, and at the other, they’re being flooded. In the middle, it’s so dry that the grass crunches as you walk on it.

A country of contrasts. At the moment, it’s contrasting disasters…

But this is Australia, and in the toughest times, people pull together. And they have, in Townsville, in Tassie, and for our farmers. When it all looks dark, I’m reminded of how marvellous human beings can be to each other. Perhaps we can learn something from disaster, and keep being nice to each other afterwards.

In the meantime, I’ll go back to watching the river heights. It’s risen 15cm while I’ve been writing this…

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