Saturday 22nd March 2014
This morning on the western side of Lake Macquarie, the day was bright blue and stunning. We ate brunch with our friends, at the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery which has this stunning outlook. Half a dozen young school children were having a painting class outside on the lawn.
Then we made our way around to the eastern side of the lake, to meet and chat with fellow blogger http://azpictured.wordpress.com. It was my first time to have the chance to meet any other blogger face to face, and it was a great experience (thanks AZ!).
After a couple of hours, she pointed out the black clouds looming in the distance. It was time for us to be leaving anyway, as we still had another three hours to drive before reaching home. No more sightseeing, just express way wherever possible, but I was glad that I take the first shift for driving, because by the time we were coming through Picton Road and over Mount Ousley, both notorious motoring black spots, it was Bill who was handling the driving rain that was lashing us.
This is what we woke to the next morning:
And this is what we had left two weeks before – as you can see, there is actually a golf course underneath all the water . . .
Bill and I seem to have a knack for invoking weather changes after our road trips. When we went to a dry Dubbo in 2010, the next week the tourist information was submerged in flood water. They had snow in Millthorpe within days of our 2011 visit. A trip up the Central Coast last year was completed just before bush fires tore through.
And now, after writing at length about drought conditions in the north-west, and farmers walking their livestock on the Long Paddock, they finally received some rain. Not enough to break a drought, but good news for some, particularly the publican who is quoted as saying “the pub was full of cockies on Wednesday unable to do any work on their farms because of the wet weather.” Source and further reading here. (note: a ‘cocky’ is slang for farmer, as well as being a type of bird).
But all too late for some, who have already lost most of their stock, and who have just sold the last of their hand fed lambs, even as the rain fell. As one sad farmer said, “They were so poor they couldn’t stand the wet weather; they were starting to go down; they were comatose.” Source and further reading here.
Further west in Bourke, which we have not yet visited, farmers from Western Australia and the NSW Riverina are sending in convoys with hay donations. “We can do our bit this time because it might be us looking for a favour next year or the year after,” said one of the organisers.
Droughts and flooding rains are the only certainties in the life of Australian farmer.