To some, it’s a blessing, to others a curse.
We have come from a state whose farmers are in crisis because they don’t get enough, to a state where people see black clouds and curse, because it means their homes or businesses may once again be under water. The contrast has been remarkable. Driving down, we passed through cattle country where the ground was brown. The grass had all been eaten off. The cattle were thin, and moving across the landscape like migratory herds, searching for anything green. The dams were all down to drying sludge, the creeks narrowed to a small central thread of water.
Here in this part of northern NSW, it’s a different story. The countryside is lush, vivid green. The grass is luxuriant, up to the steers’ knees. The beasts are glossy, well-rounded and contented. The dairy cattle are lining up to be milked with huge bags, as always. There will be a good hay or silage crop soon. We said to ourselves that if we win the lottery, we’ll buy a grazing property down here, and the branch of our family that runs grazing properties in Queensland will aways have somewhere to agist at least their breeding stock.
And then there’s the flooding part. Year after year, communities go under water and lose their possessions, their homes, their businesses. Councils continue to give planning permission for new housing in known flood zones. People buy houses without checking if they’re in flood reach. Highways are flooded, vital supplies fail to get through, communities are cut off. A year ago, when I was moving to Queensland, and had the last load of my household goods and treasured possessions on the back of the ute and a trailer behind it, we were caught in a small country town by the rising floods. There were three roads in and out. They were all closed. The big dam in the hills above the town was over-full, and they had to open the sluices and release the excess or the dam would give way. So the surrounding countryside received a huge pulse of extra water, and went under. We were stuck there for three days, in the only motel room left in town, where the bathroom ceiling leaked constantly into a bucket. The town ran out of milk, then bread, then slowly everything else. I watch my possessions succumb to the endless, pounding rain…
All over the world, it seems, weather has been extreme this year. Whether it’s the Big Freeze in the US, the Big Floods in Northern Europe, the Big Dry here or the Big Wind in the Philippines, we are being shown very clearly that Nature has the upper hand, and we just have to go along for the ride.
It’s another grey, overcast, foggy day here in Dorrigo. Hurray!