“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, The Poems of Dorothea Mackellar
I remember one of the first lessons in my Year 5 English classes was how the English like to talk about the weather: “Nice weather today, isn’t it?” And you can only imagine my surprise when years and years later I arrived in London making my way to my accommodation, sitting at the bust stop when this elderly lady suddenly said, “The weather is supposed to be better tomorrow.” I nearly fell of the seat. She was a delight to talk to her, even though brief and only about the weather.
So when I arrived in Australia sixteen years ago, I quickly figured – the subject of weather had been passed on by English immigrants. It’s a constant around here. People love talking, and yes I have to admit whingeing, about mother nature!
So let’s talk about the weather and the impact is has on daily life here in Australia. Last week we arrived back home from our annual camping trip to the Murray River, about 350 kms north-west from Melbourne. Sweltering through a week of 40 + degrees Celsius it was nice returning to the somewhat cooler zone. By then the Australian CFA (Country Fire Authority) was fighting bushfires more or less all over the place. Tasmania has lost over a hundred homes, fires here in Victoria are under control, a fire as close as 30 kms from here destroyed an historic million-dollar horse-breeding homestead, New south Wales and Queensland are still battling blazes. I’ve learned over the years that a fire is easily ignited by the lightning, campfire left burning, a tossed cigarette, a glass bottle which focuses the sun’s rays, a faulty power line, flying embers or – I don’t like to say it – by “thrill seekers” starting a fire on purpose. The current heatwave on successive days combined with strong winds makes it even harder to get the fire under control.
So let me say thanks to our fire-fighters here in Australia, and I believe we have some from New Zealand as well, we appreciate your efforts and work every day – during a fire or no fire, keeping us safe and teaching us to understand what to do in an emergency.
And to put the above a bit in perspective:
– Narelle, a cyclone which has been downgraded to category 3 as I write this, is currently moving towards the west coast.
– This time, two years ago, parts of Australia were severely flooded – including this town.
How’s the weather at your place today?