Oh, marvellous…

That is an example of gratuitous sarcasm.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 3.25.44 pmWe have been waiting for good rain for months. Now that we have a road trip planned, a 4,000km round trip…. now, we are getting rain. Lots and lots of it. Just what we needed to make things really interesting…

Substantial sections of our route south are already subject to flood warnings. Water storage dams along the way have already had to do controlled releases into the surrounding waterways for fear of damage, leading to further flooding.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 2.52.43 pm Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 2.52.26 pmThis is the view from the front and side of the house. That looks like an uneventful trip, doesn’t it? (That was more gratuitous sarcasm, by the way).

Oh, and in case you were thinking it looked a bit chilly and miserable, think again. It’s hot and miserable. 32°C/90°F, and the humidity is due to reach 88% in the next hour as that wet front crosses the coast. Think hot bathroom filled with steam and you have an inkling of what it feels like to step outside.

We’re not taking any stupid chances. Roads are closed and cars have been swept away already. If it gets too bad, we’ll have defer, even if it means rearranging everything on the trip. Boo. 😦

Welcome to the tropics, baby.


Someone else’s rain…

We’ve had a good soaking, a small taste of our missing monsoon.

I had almost lost hope. On Monday evening, I took the photo below.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 7.16.33 PMIt shows rain falling a kilometre (just over half a mile) away to the southwest, beautifully lit by the setting sun. It was falling there, but we were getting nothing. I ground my teeth and watered the garden yet again, sending wishes out into the universe. Watering the garden in the Wet. It’s ridiculous. Anyway, someone was listening.

Last night, the pressure spiked, the temperature dropped like a stone, the wind suddenly whipped up to gusts of 87kmph (55mph) and the rain didn’t so much come down as blow in sideways, in buckets. It lasted all of half an hour, but it was long enough to soak the ground, strip dead fronds from the palm trees and blow over my flame tree and mango tree in their tubs. We have a storm water channel at the front of the house, with a bridge over it to reach our drive. It’s 80cm (30 inches) deep and normally dry as a bone. This night, it was in full spate, racing and gurgling through the large pipes under the bridge. I won’t bore you with the graphs I love so much, because I do appreciate that not everyone is a weather freak like I am, but it was exciting, and long overdue.

And it rained again today, properly. The ground is wet, the cracks are closing up, the leaves are lush and green, and the grass is springing out of the ground. The Husband is glumly resigned to the fact that one of his days off will contain several hours on the ride on mower and attacking the edges with the line trimmer.

I’m glued to the Bureau of Meteorology website. More rain on the way! Sad, I know…



There’s a big, beautiful tropical low pressure front developing in the Coral Sea. Should be with us by Sunday.

Screen shot 2015-01-05 at 4.37.12 PM

And a Lovely Low means rain. Lots of rain. Monsoon type rain.  As I write, it’s bucketing down outside, but until that low front arrives, our rain showers are just that. Short, intense and a long way apart. Not enough to restore the water table, refill the dams or give the farmers any peace of mind. However, a bit of a circulation system is building up over the Solomon Islands, which will push its way down to us and give us the wetting we so richly deserve. Hurrah!

If this weather front materialises, the farmers are going to be happy and relieved. In this early growing phase, the young sugar cane will suck up an inch of water a day, guaranteeing strong growth and a good harvest. Up to now, it’s been an anxious and expensive time, with lots of irrigation going on, unusual for this time of year. Of course, for us, lots of rain also means the grass and weeds are going to jump out of the ground, and mowing has to be done hastily between downpours. On the other hand, rain will soften the ground enough that we can soon start installing fence posts for the chicken run and corner posts for the raised vegetable beds.

And one final benefit: it’s not cold and miserable here when it rains. It’s hot, and the rain is warm. No chilly trickles down the back of your neck, and paddling in puddles is fun. So much nicer than winter rain in the northern hemisphere… OK, it does get incredibly humid, and I have to clean up mould everywhere, but that’s a small price to pay.

Just nipping outside to smell the wet greenery and look at the 15 or so ducks grazing contentedly on the back lawn….

Rain at last

Not a drenching, unfortunately, but a steady light rain.

Screen shot 2014-12-06 at 6.13.06 AMWhich is better than nothing.  Overnight some of our driest inland areas have received a bit, and currently, there’s a wet grey haze over everything out there. It smells wonderful, the temperature is pleasantly moderate, and if nothing else, I won’t have to water the garden. And leaving the laundry out on the line appears to have done its usual magic. I’d dug out all my large white damask tablecloths in preparation for Christmas, washed them and left them on the line in the sun to bleach and air. So of course it was going to rain….

Screen shot 2014-12-06 at 6.30.11 AM

Froglets in happy song

Screen shot 2014-12-06 at 6.30.30 AM

Juicy baby limes!

Screen shot 2014-12-06 at 6.30.48 AM

Rain on the new mango leaves










The cane harvest finished yesterday. This region had its biggest ever cut, 5.5 million tonnes. But the new young cane that’s coming through is looking yellow and stressed, and unless it gets water at this critical early stage, next year’s crop is in danger. So the farmers will be very happy this grey and drizzly Saturday morning. And best of all, they won’t have to pay for power and water for irrigation today and perhaps for a few more days.

Out in the ocean north of Australia, some storm cells are gathering, but nothing like what we’d normally expect to see. Yes, there’s circulating activity over the Philippines, but that’s too far north to affect us. The proper monsoon front has just not formed. Yet…

We’d planned to take Miss Scarlett (our big motorbike) out for a ride this morning. It’s early yet – 7am, we’re due to meet friends at 9am, have a ride, and then have a barbecue. But if this continues, I think plans will be shelved, at least for a while. It’s not that we’re afraid of getting wet, we have the proper clothing, but the roads will be dangerously slippery for anything on two wheels, for a while at least. And since this was supposed to be a fun ride, rather than a feat of endurance, why put ourselves in danger?

The froglets are delighted, and letting us know in song….

Things to do on a rainy day

The Wet is finally here, and with some emphasis!

Mackay gets a large bath. Image courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology.

Mackay gets a large bath.
Image courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology.

Looking out of the window with European eyes, you’d think it was mid afternoon in February, somewhere in northern Europe: England, the Netherlands, France. It’s grey, gloomy, overcast, and the rain is almost solid. The gutters are gurgling and overflowing, there’s a river running through my desert garden, the banana tree has more water than it knows what to do with, and if I were in London at this moment, I’d be on the sofa in flannelette pyjamas, with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate. However, here, in addition to being massively wet, it’s also bloody warm. About 28C, to be exact. Not a day to be doing anything outside…

Left, sashing for Happiness. Right, squares for the Car quilt borders

Left, sashing for Happiness. Right, squares for the Car quilt borders

So I turned my attention to things inside. I’ve been holding forth with my rotary cutter, and the vertical sashing for the Happiness quilt is cut, plus I’ve cut all the 3″ squares for the border on the Car quilt. My fabric supplies of that one are a bit limited, so rather than make a narrow striped border, which will eat up a lot of fabric in seam allowances, I’m doing 4 patches, in 3″ squares. And it’s very dark outside, so I haven’t attempted any further hand quilting on the ToL, as I simply can’t see what I’m doing well enough.

And now for even more pleasurable stuff. My camera has been slowly dying, and it has now reached the point where it’s refusing to talk to my computer so I can’t upload any images. The Husband’s camera will talk to my computer, but I don’t like the photos it takes; they’re all either rather dark or badly over exposed when I use the flash. The most excellent Husband has therefore bought me a Proper Camera, my first ever. Behold!


Not even out of the box yet.
I think I have a lot of reading to do…

Now, of course, I have to sit down and read the manual, and pray that I can retain all the information. I am over 50, after all, and as everyone knows, as soon as you start to get grey hair, your competence with any kind of technology just leaches away. Or so my younger acquaintances would have me believe… Personally, I don’t think I’m doing too badly on that front.

Excuse me while I go and play with my new toy…

…And wait some more

Meet Tropical Low (potentially Cyclone) Dylan.

(Photos courtesy of the Bureau of Meteorology)

Tropical Low over north eastern Queensland.

Tropical Low over north eastern Queensland.

The projected cyclone path at 7.30am today. Category 1 only, and it's turning a little more west.

The projected cyclone path at 7.30am today. Category 1 only, and it’s turning a little more west.

Dylan is getting himself organised up in the top right hand corner of Australia, but at this stage it looks increasingly unlikely we’ll be entertaining him in Mackay. Having said that, we’re expecting 120kmph winds and lashing rain, combined with full moon and a king tide, so a little light flash flooding is also on the menu.

Hunkering down for the duration is the order of the day. Catch up on the movie watching, do a bit of baking, and probably a lot of sewing – assuming the winds don’t bring down the power lines. And the phone tower. If they do, it’s back to handsewing by lamplight. How very Victorian! But it’ll pass the time.

Cyclone landfall is tomorrow morning early. After that, it’ll still be ugly for a while, but the worst is over, and the front heads inland where they badly need all that spare water.

Off to the sewing machine to do some more on the Tree of Life. Another post later on that.

Rain. It’s here, and more coming

It’s been a long wait, but finally the weather has broken. Still hot, though…

It started middle of last week, when the temperature and humidity started to spike. This is usually a sign that we’re going to get some organised banging and crashing. Thursday was 31C/88F and the humidity was around 50%. Friday was 33C/91F and the humidity was around 60%. Last night we got a few distant rumbles, a few flashes and then a gentle, steady rain. The garden’s loving it.

This morning's rainmap. Thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology

This morning’s rainmap.
Thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology

This is where we are this morning.  Still drizzling, getting hotter, very, very humid. I won’t be able to dry laundry outside at all for a while, since it’s only marginally wetter than the air when it comes out of the machine! My hair won’t dry after my shower without a hairdryer.  We have to keep the aircon running, not just for the heat, but to keep things dry.  And it’s the same for the rest of the week. But at least we’re not in the path of Tropical Cyclone Alessia, which is building up into a minor hissy fit off the north of Western Australia, heading for the Northern Territory. She’s only a category one, so she’ll be bringing storms and strong winds and not much else. But hopefully the front will drag rain across the middle of Australia to all those inland areas which are so desperate for rain.

The next few days. More rain, hurray! Thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology

The next few days. More rain, hurray!
Thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology

Like most Australians, I’ve become addicted to the Bureau of Meteorology website. It’s generally very accurate in its forecasts, unlike the TV news stations, and I love the real-time satellite weather maps, showing who’s getting rain, how much, and where. If you dig down, there are all kinds of fascinating motherlodes of information about river levels, watersheds,  statistics, and fire risk. The warnings issued for cyclones are timely, carefully worded and to be respected.  Everyone in the tropics has BOM bookmarked in their browser. They do an outstanding job.

Cyclone developing off northern WA... Thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology

Cyclone developing off northern WA…
Thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology

On the domestic front, I’m bracing myself for a bit of storm damage in the garden. Already the flowers on the cannas are ragged and pulped. All the big leafy stuff, though, is looking obnoxiously perky and smug. The begonias have had it, and I’ve resigned myself to being unable to maintain a decent begonia presence. They’re too sensitive for the Big Weather we get here. My baby fruit trees are holding up well. Their tubs are carefully positioned under the edge of the carport roof, so they don’t catch the full weight of the downpour and flood out, but they do get the residual rain that drifts inwards. So far, it’s working well.

The predicted path of the cyclone.  Thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology

The predicted path of the cyclone.
Thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology

We’re due at a barbecue this afternoon.  Plan B is in operation. Our host has a high level house (on stilts, very common here), so we’re gathering under the house. Should be fun!