…twenty to thirty road trains lining every available long stretch of street in town is quite a sight. Flooding up here will do that, a good dose of rain and suddenly every town up here is an island.
It doesn’t stop there. Flash flooding occurs sometime after the main surface water runs off down the creeks. Our creeks out this way look like unused dirt tracks falling off the main roads, aluvial gravel and spinifix fight the hardier acacia trees for the tatical high ground; a barny neither side’s likely to win. Until the flood comes that is, then the creeks bleed red dirt, and the sheer volume of water contains enough latent energy to flip a 12 ton mining truck on it’s arse. At least when it’s had a big rain, the whole state knows it… you can spot it for miles across this country up here.
It’s the spot rain storms… sneaky little devils that they are, stealing across the coast under the cover of darkness, only to deposit their potent pricipitation somewhere hidden in the gorges or on the plains… well out of site. Sometime later – 4 or 5 days even – you might be an ususpecting tourist commiting one huge no no, and find yourself camping in a river bed… I mean sure – why not – they look so flat and cozy. Until you here the water approaching that is. People describe the noise this wall of water makes, as a thunderous roar for a very good reason. A seemingly dead river on your arrival, comes to life in an instant and sweeps away everything you might have owned – such is it’s power. Flash floods answer to no ‘man’… why should they stop to listen now?
Australia reputedly experiences up to 19% of the world’s surface soil erosion (recent fact – heard it quoted just recently), and a flash flood; whilst not a common event, moves many tons of sand as easily as the wind teases a feather on the breeze. I suppose the one thing we can thank them for, is that at least we know it’ll put the ‘dirt’ down eventually – somewhere!
Water’s extemely scarce around this country… and then the flash flood comes around, showing off like a show pony cousin who’s won the lottery… but much more dangerous. to add insult to injury it then leaves pools behind the same way an itchy dog casts off fleas, and these bring with it their own problems. Mosquitoes breed like mad, they’ve got time to make up it, you see it might have been a few years since the last chance they had to bleed the population dry. Ross River Virus, a debillitating desease, get’s a hold on a community and simply wears it down bite by bite.
There’s no known cure for Ross River Virus, you simply manage the symptoms – fatigue, pain, sweling etc – and you wait for it to dissapate. Thankfully it’s not a common disease but wet weather like this lends itself to outbreaks. Mrs Mosquitoe rub her little ‘hands’ together and let’s out a WHOO HOOO… it’s TIME to MATE! She feeds, and he just sees to it the lineage is intact. Not sure who’s got the better part of the bargain there, but the humble Mozzie – aside from being very bloody annoying – is our number one spreader for disease. Managing them in THIS type of environment after a storm, is nigh on impossible.
Water; the life blood of the worlds most arid continent, can be one of two things depending on the season and your need – a blessing or a curse. It strands animals by drawing them into the desert plains as critters feel the need ot graze on greenery sprouting on natures command. As soon as they’re fed, grazing animals need water, and pools that at once seemed abundant feel the need to sneak off and dissappear again… a crueler game of hide and seek you’ll probably never find. Out here the weak animals die, and the strong begin the journey back to where they remember the water always being. Nature does what it does… and the critters will wait for the next rain to come. Everything revolves around water.
Talking about critters – specifically those of the insect world – to have an experiece similiar to the one I’m having now, simply tip a box of Rice Crispies or Rice Bubbles (a popular breakfast cereal snack) onto the floor of your bathroom. Turn the hot water tap on full in the shower, and if you have heat lamps – crank them up as well. When the room is all hot and steamy, and the heat lamp seems to want to burn a hole through the top of your head, take your first step… and then another… things SHOULD be crunching under your feet – unless you took too long setting up your little recreation that is – ‘Snap, Crackle and Pop’ is Rice Bubbles mainstay slogan. This is what it’s like walking on the carpet of bugs, littering the ground at the moment… not an advertising moment – that’s for sure.
Jewel beetles; with carapaces that shine emerald green in the light, compete with leaf green grasshoppers for space on the floor. You can’t avoid them, as they’re into everything. Which is a buggerance, as the jewel beetle are simply known as STINK beetles around here… when threatened they release an odour that permeates it’s antagoniser and sticks to them like chewing gum in your hair. It simply PONGS, and does wonders for your social life… NOT! At least when an event like this happens, it’s a fair chance EVERYONE smells the same.
As I type this now, trucks all around me are starting their engines. It’s time to roll. The dam south of us has ceased overflowing enough to let immediate traffic past. And the river north of us has dropped to shin height… time to let ’em through. Caught up in all of this are hundreds of people, most of ’em are on their way here for a funeral, and it’s a big one. The truck’s will smash up the already water damaged road surface, and we’ll be in a situation where the roads’ll be closed again, this time – for repair. Who’s to think that a relatively small amount of water – on the scale of things in this country – could cause us so much strife! Just goes to show how tiny we feature in things compared to nature eh… blink – and a moment will simply just pass on by.