Monday, 28 January 2013

Of drought and flooding rain...

It is the ultimate cliche to describe Australia as a land of contrasts, but events over the past few weeks have graphically illustrated just how appropriate the description is.

When I last posted on January 15 for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, many Australian communities were battling terrible bushfires. Here in Brisbane, on a few evenings there was a hint of smoke in the air and a dim pink glow in the evening from fires on Bribie Island.

As recently as a week ago, I was watering the garden regularly trying to keep the plants alive in searing heat. Our wet season was late, and although we'd had a couple of storms that had looked ominous, like the one below from late December, they produced little rain.

But over this long weekend when we traditionally celebrate Australia Day, the heavens opened. The wind and rain was relentless, life and death battles ensued, and as I type, there are still people on rooftops awaiting rescue. It brought to mind Dorothea MacKellar's description of a 'wilful, lavish land' and stanzas from her poem, 'My Country', one of the most loved in Australia:

I love a sunburnt country, 
A land of sweeping plains, 
Of ragged mountain ranges, 
Of droughts and flooding rains. 
I love her far horizons, 
I love her jewel-sea, 
Her beauty and her terror 
The wide brown land for me! 

Core of my heart, my country! 
Her pitiless blue sky, 
When, sick at heart, around us 
We see the cattle die 
But then the grey clouds gather, 
And we can bless again 
The drumming of an army, 
The steady soaking rain. 

Core of my heart, my country! 
Land of the rainbow gold, 
For flood and fire and famine 
She pays us back threefold. 
Over the thirsty paddocks, 
Watch, after many days, 
The filmy veil of greenness 
That thickens as we gaze. * 

Once again, here at Casa Bella, we were blessed. No damage, no flooding, just a tiny leak where I think the wind has forced water under the tiles. We just hunkered down till it started to settle this afternoon. A tree came down opposite my driveway, and I just saw a few of the neighbours head over with a chainsaw to remove it. (I optimistically headed out in the pouring rain late yesterday to try to drag it to the side before it got dark, but to no avail. I apparently need to eat more spinach.)

The water is finally starting to drain away in the backyard, the only really level ground here, but for a while it looked like the Amazon in miniature.

Even though some of the top-heavy trees have toppled when the soil has become too soft to hold them, and there is shredded foliage and twigs everywhere, most of the garden is undamaged, and some of the most delicate and fragile blooms remain.

Poinciana flowers and the strappy foliage of the Ponytail Palm in the pool.


Chive flower

Daylily 'Jordan Verhaert'

Daylily 'Douglas Lycett'

Daylily 'Double Cranberry Ruffles'

Frangipani Plumeria Obtusa

This little spider is hunkered down in the cosmos.

Of course, there are those who take it all in their stride!

For many the worst is yet to come. Many of the rivers have yet to peak, and then the clean-up must begin for inundated homes and businesses. What remains of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald is heading south to wreak havoc on New South Wales. Our thoughts are with all those in its path or already affected. 

* You can read all of the poem 'My Country' here.


  1. So glad to hear you sustained only minor damage, and little loss of plants. Thank goodness you didn't experience a lot of flooding, and that the water is already starting to drain away.

    Summertime in Oz is never ever dull.

  2. It certainly isn't, Bernie. Lots of people will be having a sleepless night tonight. Hopefully, the floods heights won't be as high as anticipated.

  3. Marisa, I'm glad that you did not have any damage from the cyclone...give thanks.
    My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who have been hardest hit.
    Our hurricane season starts in June,and I hope it won't wreak too much havoc this year, since we had a calm season last year.
    Your bow wow crew really are taking it in stride.

    1. I am glad I was home to keep an eye on the dogs, Virginia. I was just reading on their dog trainers' Facebook page (the three of us were all dismal failures) that there are lots of missing and stray dogs who were terrified by the storm and escaped their yards. Here's hoping the rest of our cyclone season is gentle with us, and that you fare well too come June.

  4. So good you did no have frightening! Your blooms look so beautiful with rain having given them a kiss.

    1. The garden just loved the rain after such a hot dry stretch, even if it was way too much of a good thing for many of my fellow-Brisbanites.

  5. I have been watching the international news and you all have had really crazy weather. Here too it is crazy with really warm one day and well below zero in a couple of days. However, I think flooding like you have had can be most difficult. Hope you dry out soon. Jack

    1. Thanks Jack. The climate really does seem to be out of sync lately. After our big deluge in 2011, we were told it was a 'once in a hundred years' flood, and here we are again two years later!

  6. so glad you fared ok. This was a really strange storm, wasnt it?

    1. It sure was. I have been through the tail ends of a few cyclones over the years, but this wind and rain was just unrelenting. Hope the rest of the cyclone season is kind to you up north.

  7. It has been about the storms and floods on the news here in Britain, seems like some part of Australia took a heavy hit. Hope you still are OK.
    Meanwhile we are preparing ourselves for yet another period of floods here in Britain, when all the snow we got is melting. A lot of freak weather....

    1. Thanks Helene. We have definitely been lucky here through both the 2011 and this year's flood. Many people are still without power, but at least it isn't cold and wet here. (I'm sitting here in my swimmers as I type!)

  8. I was thinking of that poem as well. It's so true. On Friday I was saying "Yay - Rain at last" then the very next day - "Oh no!" I'm glad you had only a little damage. Same here.

    1. Glad to hear you survived relatively unscathed too, Ros. I drove down to the Gold Coast today for a funeral, and the amount of water around Logan and Springwood is amazing. Lots of roads still closed, I gather.



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