Tag Archives: floods

The Silence After the Storm…Friday Fictioneers.

The police found Mandi McDonald’s Commodore Stationwagon 500 metres downstream. She and the two children aged eight and six were deceased. The storm had hit Toowoomba with such fury. Mandi had been driving the kids home from school, and the car was swept away in the surging currents. Her husband was distraught. Lost all his family in an instant. No one knew how he was going to get through it. Or, even if he could. They all came to the funeral, and didn’t mean to stay away.  They just couldn’t find the words and didn’t know what to say.

….

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Cataract Gorge…Tasmania’s Somewhat Sleepy River Ghost.

Launceston’s Cataract Gorge and Basin are renowned for their rugged, natural beauty and it’s hard to believe you’re only 10 minutes drive from the CBD.  Indeed, you could almost believe you’ve wandered into a lost wilderness…another dimension…not unlike wandering through a wardrobe into mythical Narnia.

It’s so easy to get caught up in “the bright side”. I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last. As usual, I was too busy staring through my lens at heaven to even consider the destruction this river has wrought… or the heartache.

The earliest recorded visit to the Cataract Gorge was made by settler William Collins in 1804 onboard the ship: “Lady Nelson”. He was particularly impressed by the South Esk and its cataract and wrote: “Upon approaching the entrance I observed a large fall of water over rocks, nearly a quarter of a mile up a straight gully between perpendicular rocks about 150 ft high. The beauty of the scene is probably not surpassed in the world 1.”.

However, the South Esk River is like a mighty, slumbering ghost. Only last year, Launceston experienced devastating flooding when heavy rains sent the South Esk River into flood on multiple occasions. In June 2016, water per second (cumecs) reached over 2,000 cumecs 2. I don’t know how you translate that into something which makes sense. The best description I’ve found, other than photos and footage of the flooding, was a comment made by the State Emergency Service regional manager Mhairi Revie during the less devastating November floods:

“What they need to imagine is 24,000 Volkswagens worth of water passing them by every second,” she said. 3.

I sort of remembered these floods, but last year is a very long time ago for this bear of very little brain.

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At this point, I should probably clarify that while I’m what Tasmanians call “a Mainlander”, I don’t consider myself a “tourist” as we travel around Tasmania. After all, I’ve been married to a Tasmanian for 15 years… even if I haven’t “heard it all”. Yet, despite this familiarity, I was still very much viewing and experiencing the Cataract Gorge and the South Esk River as an outsider…an acquaintance with only a passing knowledge of it’s hidden depths.

So, of course, while I’ve been getting my head around the dark side of the South Esk River, I’ve been consulting my in-house, “Tasmanian Consultant”. Although Geoff was born and grew up in Scottsdale, lived and studied in Launceston and has witnessed such floods. Indeed, he was photographed by the local newspaper wading through flood waters in high school, just  around the corner from Parkside (see previous post).

While at university, the river flooded again and he noticed expert kayakers taking on the extremely dangerous floodwaters. Although Geoff used to kayak on white water rapids back then and played canoe polo, he wisely abstained from kayaking through the flood waters. However, he was watching the floods from a neighbouring rock and said he could feel that massive boulder vibrating from the sheer force of the flood waters. That’s pretty scary in itself and as I’ve looked at photos of the floods, I’ve been most amazed to see people standing so close to the edge. These flood waters are scary enough just watching the footage from the comfort of my couch.

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So, once again I’ve been reminded how easy it is to gloss over history and forget the lessons of the past. The dangers of zooming in on beauty with its inherent  dangers and forgetting to ask the questions or watch your back. This can be hard enough when you’re on your own turf. However, it is a serious consideration when you’re travelling and you lack that local knowledge.  You only need to watch the news to see the truth of that.

However, that’s not to say we shouldn’t make hay while the sun shines.

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Indeed, the day we were there, the weather was perfect…all blue skies. Hydrangeas  and agapanthus were flowering and I was struck by the enormity of towering trees, soaring rock faces reminiscent of Easter Island and the joys of catching up with old friends while returning to the pathways of the past.

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It was a beautiful day!

xx Rowena

 

 

Sources

  1. http://www.launcestoncataractgorge.com.au/history.html
  2. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-15/launceston-cataract-gorge-flood-fourth-time-this-year/8026974
  3. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-15/launceston-cataract-gorge-flood-fourth-time-this-year/8026974

Much More Coffee Required.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share.

Not sure whether more caffeine is required or some herbal tea. Do I shock my body with increasing doses of caffeine until it jolts back into action? Or, do I just go with the flow and fall asleep? While I let my droopy eyes decide, I’ll start writing. Writing releases my inner tensions and the aftermath of a stressful week, better than anything else.

It is now Autumn here. While I might have been complaining about the scorching Summer heat which was continuing unabated, I definitely did not request torrential rain and localised flooding. Moreover, I certainly did not ask to be driving through floodwaters, just to get my son to school around the corner. After all, when it comes to exciting adventures, this wasn’t what Mum’s Taxi had in mind!

Yellow taxi

However, I guess it builds character. Gives me bragging rights. However, I don’t recall signing up for another episode of Survivor!

While these heavy rains made driving around difficult and potentially dangerous, they created some fantastic photographic opportunities.

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Driving home from dropping my daughter at Cub Scouts, I veered home picking up my camera and headed down to the beach. I’d spotted huge billowing clouds over the rooftops and being right on sunset, I dashed off in pursuit of golden glory. I wasn’t disappointed, capturing stunning reflections in the receding surf. Yum! That might sound like a odd description of a sunset but I’m currently watching an interview with the judges from Masterchef and it just seemed to fit. Can something be that beautiful that you can actually taste it? I’m not sure but this had to come close.

I had great fun blogging about my cloud chasing adventures at Clouds! Camera! Action!

However, this week wasn’t all about dashing through floods and cloud chasing.

Monday night, I attended a dinner celebrating International Women’s Day held by Business & Professional Women.  This included a candle-lighting ceremony honouring women around the world. The guest speaker was Mahboba Rawi from international aid organisation organisation, Mahboba’s Promise, which delivers food, shelter, medical attention and education to thousands of women and children whose lives have been destroyed by war in her native Afghanistan. She also tells her story in her book: Mahboba’s Promise.

I was very touched by meeting Mahboba. There was something exceptional about her. A real sense of peace. That if she put her hand on your heart, all those storms and inner turbulence would instantly settle and there would be peace. Unfortunately, this quality is usually borne out of great suffering and incredibly challenging personal experience and subsequent growth. It’s such experience which changes your focus from the everyday and mundune to some kind of different plane.

Not only did Mahboba go through great loses as a refugee but she went on to lose her eldest son in a tragic accident, which subsequently led to the breakdown of her marriage and great financial hardship. So, when it comes to helping others and showing genuine heartfelt compassion, she has been there. You can read more about Mahboba’s Promise Here.

On Thursday, I had a rather intriguing trip down to Sydney to have a neuro-psychological assessment. This tests the functionality of your brain looking at words, numbers, memory, multi-tasking, thought processes, spatial ability and no doubt things I haven’t even considered. It’s a very challenging test. Not in the least because you need to know the name of the Australian Prime Minister and the previous Prime Minister. With the  revolving doors down in Parliament House, this isn’t easy. I’d actually heard that paramedics have removed this question from their neurological tests. In reverse order, we have Turnbull, Abbott, Rudd, Gillard, Rudd. That’s 5 changes in six years. I don’t think anyone could lock you up for getting that mess wrong.

I’m pretty sure the test went well. Struggled a bit on the spatial tests but that didn’t surprise me. After all, reversing Mum’s Taxi isn’t a pretty sight. Indeed, when that rear bumper bar is on the move, entire car parks have evacuated! Sorry, folks!

After surviving heavy rains, floods and neuro-psychological tests, yesterday we finally had our daughter’s belated 10th Birthday Party. For some reason, she kept forgetting to take the invitations to school and also had a few days off with stomach aches. So, we come to Thursday morning and as we’re pulling up at the station, silly me asks whether she has packed the invitations. Why didn’t I think to ask while we were still at home when there was still a chance to pack them? Stupid, Mum. Of course she’d forgotten to pack them. So, I ended up sending her teacher a desperate email asking her to print the invitation out and give it to all the girls in her class. Surely, they wouldn’t all turn up with only 2 days’ notice?!! Besides, I preferred the idea of inviting all the girls anyway and being more inclusive. As you may recall, our daughter moved to a new school this year. It’s a class for bright kids pooled from the regional area and they’re all new and just getting to know each other. Moreover, the parents don’t know each other at all. With the kids taking public transport long distance to get there, we rarely go near the place. So, the party provided a much needed opportunity to help us all get to know each other better.

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As it turned out, the party was a brilliant success! It was held at the Hidden Courtyard Cafe, which is out the back of a florist shop. My Mum and Miss go there for afternoon tea every week when Mum picks her up from the station. It has quite a fusion of flowers, art and up until the party started, a live band. They sang Miss Happy Birthday before they finished up. We invited the kids to “High Tea” and about 12 kids arrived ranging from dressy to pretty casual. That’s one of the things I really like about where we live. While there’s some cloning, you can largely be yourself and that’s just fine. By the way, I should also mention that the cafe is dog-friendly, so Lady came along. (That, of course, meant a bath. We decided to leave Bilbo at home as he can get a little narky around strangers at times).

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Not too sure whether Lady was wondering how many balloons it would take to fly and whether that was from a view of hope or dread?

I have to say that I was exceptionally grateful to the cafe. I’d been in a real spin about where to hold her party without sending us bankrupt. Kids parties can get so expensive and yet they really are such an important part of growing up, making friends and feeling special. Conversely, when they implode the child feels awful and they just reinforce any negative vibe the child has about themselves. Knowing how to navigate your party through those potential minefields, is a serious concern but worth it when you pull it off.

Anyway, given the hectic week and the troubles getting the invitations out, this party ended up flying by the seat of it’s pants but came together exceptionally well. The cafe had covered the tables in drawing paper and I’d also brought textas and some drawing paper. I’d also written out a motivational quote for each child (largely from Dr Suess, Helen Kellar and John Lennon) and left it on their plate. Also, I made name tags or everyone and stuck a glittery smiley face on each one. This was also inspired as I didn’t know most of the kids and there were kids from various activities and it just helped break the ice. Marianne, the Proprietor, is an excellent event manager and helped keep things moving with the appearance of cake plate filled with little morsels, to the chef appearing with milkshakes and then the lighting of the cake. It all had a certain amount of theatre and came across really well. We all had a fabulous time!

Phew!

Phew! Phew!

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Miss and Lady.

Now, my son is asking abut his also belated birthday party but we’ll be heading the Royal Sydney Easter Show next week. So, it can wait. We might have his mates over for a video night. Do they still exist? I wonder. When I turned 13, I had a slumber party and we all watched Grease on video.  Video nights were actually  incredibly trendy at the time, and not the last resort of the desperate and dateless. Oh how things change!

Meanwhile the school work keeps coming. I’ve glossed over my son’s upcoming Maths Exam and am much more interested in my daughter’s assignment. Following on from her project on Natural Disasters, she has to write a newspaper article about the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. I am now engrossed in reading a series of personal accounts. They’re riveting: http://www.sfmuseum.net/1906/ew.html

Anyway, that just about sums up last week and by now, it’s Sunday night here and I really don’t feel ready for another week. It’s been bucketing down with rain again tonight and once again, I feel like curling up in my cave and hibernating.

Indeed, the kids have been asking for blankets.

Humph…last week it was Summer!

I hope you’ve had a great week. This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana over at http://parttimemonster.com/ and please click through to the

xx Rowena

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A mural outside the cafe. It could be my daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum’s Taxi Takes A Dive.

When it’s comes to modifying Mum’s Taxi, I’d never considered attaching a snorkel before. A meter perhaps but never a snorkel.

That was until yesterday morning when I was driving our son to school in the rain after dropping Mademoiselle at the local swimming pool. Oops! I mean train station. I ended up driving through flood waters, clinging onto the steering wheel desperately hoping I’d make it out the other side. The “puddle” was considerably deeper and longer than I’d anticipated and I was dreading becoming a victim…a statistic of stupidity.

Even though the rain was bucketing down, the flood waters caught me off-guard. After all, I was simply driving our son to school a few streets away. When the car in front of me did a U-turn, I probably should’ve followed suit but my navigator goaded me to drive on: “C’mon Mum! Keep going!”

After all, what kid doesn’t love driving through puddles?!!

However, this wasn’t your garden variety puddle. It was more along the lines of an Olympic Swimming Pool. Well, Okay. I exaggerate. At the same time, this wasn’t the sort of puddle you should drive through, even though it wasn’t a raging torrent. Not dangerous but why take the risk?

Indeed! To impress your son. A son who goads you into driving through flood waters like a professional navigator when he’s only 12 years old and can’t even drive a car. Has no idea what happens when a car stalls in flood waters. Or, worse still, that cars can get swept away. Their occupants drowned.

Why did I listen? Why didn’t I trust my instincts? I blame a mother’s love. Or, was it really something less noble like wanting to be the hero? Fangio?

Well, I also blame inexperience. It’s the first time I’ve ever faced driving through such deep water. After all, I’m a city slicker. These days I might live in Greater Sydney by the beach but it’s hardly the Great Australian outback, which expects drought and flood. It’s civilization. Moreover, for the last few months it’s been scorchingly hot. Our front lawn has been cremated. Floods weren’t something I’d given a lot of thought!

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!

Dorothea Mackellar: My Country

Yet, that’s Australia. I shouldn’t be surprised.On the other hand, as an urbanite, you feel perhaps somewhat naively, that you’re insulated from nature. That you can package nature up inside a pipe. Control and contain it. Make it behave. Yet, nature has her own ideas. Fights back. Humiliates and subdues mankind, bringing us to our knees. We can be prepared but there are no guarantees. Nature does what nature wants.

That includes making our morning school run considerably more challenging.

I often say that I never know where Mum’s taxi is going to take me next and through flood waters definitely wasn’t on the list.

xx Rowena

Australia: You’ve Been Warned!!

You don’t have to be Einstein to know Australia is a land of rugged extremes. A place where you just need to dip your toe in the water and it could became a battle of life and death against any number of foes.

Naturally, you’d be mad to ever set foot in the place. Indeed, it really is a mystery to modern science how locals have ever managed to survive.

Of course, all sorts of theories abound. Personally, I reckon that daily dose of Vegemite toast probably makes us so toxic and unpalatable to wildlife, that they don’t even want to take a bite.

Our climate is just as extreme, dangerous and potentially deadly as our wildlife.

Moreover, it’s almost ludicrous to think that while one part of the country is experiencing ferocious, destructive bush fires, the Northern Territory has severe flooding. Moreover, the fact that it’s Christmas never seems to enter the equation either. Nature doesn’t care.

Vintage Ettalong Santa Truck 2008 Pearl Beach

An Australian Christmas, Pearl Beach, New South Wales.

So, if you’re in the UK experiencing floodwaters, thank your lucky stars you’re nowhere near the Daly River in Australia’s rugged Northern Territory where rising flood waters are the least of your worries.

Those very same waters are infested with large, man-eating saltwater crocodiles. Snap! Snap! While most of Australia’s dangerous wildlife doesn’t actively seek out humans, crocs are a different story. They’re aggressive predators and quite happy to add you to the menu. You can read the full story here: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/daly-river-residents-alarmed-after-spotting-crocodiles-in-town-during-flood/news-story/786cad8139b22f7e0c5092f5988eb629

Meanwhile, on Christmas Day, 116 homes were lost in horrific bush fires on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. An incredible inferno, this blaze is still going.

The extremes of the Australian climate and landscape are encapsulated in a historic poem written by Dorothea McKellar, which probably rouses more national pride than our national anthem. It has quite a number of verses but this is what usually gets recited:

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!

Indeed, it is a land where drought and flood have somehow become strangely interconnected.  Bush fire is so common that it’s even required  for some plant species to germinate, bringing about new life. You’d have to say that’s just proof this place is insane. How could anything so destructive ever have any redeeming features?

Meanwhile, Geoff and I are enjoying a very lazy, comfortable day parked in the couch at home. Geoff’s watching the cricket while I’m blogging while the dog sleeps on my feet. I should tell him to thank his lucky stars he’s nowhere near the Daly’s River either. Dogs have sadly become snack food up there, while Bilbo and Lady and been enjoying eating post-Christmas treats.

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Enjoying the easy life!

One of these days, I’ll be expecting complaints from the Australian Tourism Commission: “Stop scaring away the tourists”. I know I should only be sharing the nice fluffy stories about lush green pastures and stunning golden beaches but where’s the fun in that? Snakes, spiders, crocodiles, bush fires, floods, crazed drop bears…this is the real Australia.

Enter at your own risk!

Have you been game?

xx Rowena