Wednesday, March 7, 2012

...AND THE RAINS KEEP COMING –MARCH 2012

MATESHIP
Photo by Gary Ramage
Is it ever going to stop?  Right now the east coast of Australia from Queensland down is absolutely drenched...it’s hard to believe barely a few short years back the entire country was suffering deep  despairing drought.
Friends from Straddie who set out just last week, in different directions,  for caravan trips around the country now find themselves stranded in places like Tiaro  up north, and  thousands of miles away to the south, near Wagga Wagga. 

For my friends touring round the country the floods are just a nuisance, causing a mere hiatus to their travel plans.  For the people whose lives are again disrupted by floodwater, some for the fourth and fifth time in a matter of a few years the inundation is heart breaking.

I’ve plucked a few photos from our daily newspapers to show the human, and animal aspect of a country covered by the rushing, destructive  torrents of water.  Many thanks to the photographers who caught the moment.

                                                                       Photo by Stuart McEvoy
 Down south the Melbourne to Sydney Express races above the flooded Murrumbidgee River, from this angle the train looking like a kids ‘push me pull me’ toy.

Photo by Megan Slade.
 While thousands of miles further north Swedish tourists, Mia and Maria  find themselves stranded on Queensland’s Bruce Highway near Curra. 

Somewhere in that bank up of cars and trucks our friends Phil and Jenny are waiting for the water to subside, reasonably comfortable in their caravan. 

(Mind you while they’re enjoying themselves on holiday, my Reluctant Traveller and I are back home on Straddie  babysitting their three chooks.)
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A CASE OF ALL HANDS TO THE PUMP


                           Photos Andrew Meares
Down south with the threat of even more rain to come it’s a case of all hands to the sandbags.  It’s back breaking work but its always amazing to see how many people, mostly strangers to each other, rush to help.

It’s moments like these when you’re facing repeat flooding, when you’re dreading the thought of cleaning mud and debris out of your home yet again, when you’re hoping like mad the levee around the town holds, praying the waters will start to  drop, that you recognize the true meaning of the word mateship.
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Across the border in Victoria, Bob and Lucas Hughes raced home from their jobs in Melbourne, borrowed a friend’s excavator and spent 14 hours creating a 1.5 metre levee bank around their mother’s rural property at Nathalia.  With the tinny ready and primed to go they reckon they’ve got the flood licked.

Photo Chris Scott
 
While just a few miles to the east the floods have reached the  town of Numurkah. A newspaper photographer has caught the moment as Greg Mason leads a few more of his sixteen horses to safety.  


Photos Chris Scott
 It’s wonderful to see the trust these animals have in their owner, only the two front horses are being led by rope, the others placidly following.
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This is the town of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. almost due west of the nation’s capital Canberra.  The town’s inhabitants are on high alert as the Murrumbidgee River continues to rise.  The area is prime sheep country.

 
Anyone who has ever worked with sheep know its not an easy job herding a mob of sheep, a job made even harder when they’re immersed in flood water.  It's no small task heaving a water logged sheep into a dinghy.

But these sheep are their owner’s livelihood, and if saving them means bringing the mob into the house, then so be it...


                   Preceding photos all by Stuart McEvoy

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Today before I finally post this story I’ve checked the weather forecast for Wagga Wagga.  Mostly sunny. Maybe the deluge has finally stopped, then again they are forecasting showers for later in the week.

The trouble is even though the sun is shining today the flood waters are still racing and tumbling down from the river’s headwaters, maybe hundreds of miles away.  For some towns further along, the river has yet to peak. The danger is ongoing.

But that’s Australia all over, our country is one of extremes, and we’re all mighty proud of the way we all pull together in times of trouble.  Neighbours, strangers, dogs, horses, sheep - it’s called mateship.

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Robyn Mortimer 2012