Sunday, 11 January 2015

Downunderites get excited about

Aussie Rules football and rain - well, some of them do.
You don't want to know about Aussie Rules football. It is a dangerous game played with an oval shaped ball.  Enough said.
The rain? Well that's a different story. Australia has droughts and bushfires and floods. We have all three at the moment.
There are parts of one state that are still drought declared. That may change. I hope it does.
The fires in my state are out for now but another state was battling property threatening blazes yesterday. Yes, more lovely homes built in among "natural" bush surroundings.
And then there is the rain which has flooded places that are usually dry. Someone in the weather bureau tried to explain that it was a "monsoon" which had "headed south without the heat". Mmm... I am not sure about that description.
If you look at a map of Downunder there is a town in the middle, a town called Alice Springs. (Yes, the town referred to in the title of Neville Shute's book, "A town like Alice".) There is a "river" there, the River Todd. Most of the time the river bed is completely dry. It is often used as a camping ground. They even have a "boat race" in the dry river bed.
But, if it rains, it can turn into an actual fast flowing river in an extraordinarily short space of time. It is dangerous. Sadly, a young man lost his life there a couple of days ago. He was attempting to "tube" (ride in the inner tube of a tyre) down the river. 
People are warned about these things. They don't always listen. They are told "don't try and cross the creeks". They simply don't believe it is dangerous.
I do. I once experienced the power and speed of that water in a very unusual way. I was in a plane.
Plane trips are usually very boring affairs. That in-flight entertainment is there for a very good reason - even if I would prefer to read a book.
But, on this occasion I was flying on the Singapore to Downunder leg of the long trip from Upover. It was early morning as we crossed what is usually a vast expanse of desert. The pilot made an announcement and then, unusually, asked the staff to arrange for everyone who wanted to do so to take a turn looking out the windows. We would, he informed us, see something that might be a once in a lifetime experience. We would be able to see water moving across the land.
It sounded completely crazy. We were 20,000 feet in the air and travelling at speed. Nobody could see water moving at that height or speed. But, he was right. We could see the water moving. There was so much of it and it was travelling so rapidly that it was possible to see it moving even at that height. From so far above of course it appeared very slow but, on the ground, it must have been moving at a tremendous speed.
It rained here yesterday. It was a welcome relief. It helped to put the fires out even as it brought down more fire damaged trees. It has helped the fire fighters who will be monitoring the area for a while yet. 
And next door I heard the Little Drummer Boy yell, "It's raining. Come out and play!" It was something to get excited about.

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