When a drought breaks in Australia, it really breaks. Our farm is on the Murrumbidgee, one of Australia’s mighty rivers. It’s even called the Mighty Murrumbidgee. For a number of years it has been just a thin trickle, a shadow of its “Mighty” self. When we drive over the bridge on the way to the farm it looks like you could walk across it in parts.
Or that is – looked. Past tense. Because now the drought has broken and the Mighty Murrumbidgee is flowing again.
When we arrived last night it was dark, so the outdoorsy one didn’t see the river. I think she was asleep at the time anyway, but this morning Doc discovered something essential he had forgotten, so we had to go into town. This happens so often we now have a routine we go through before leaving home. “Have you got the sleeping bags?” (forgotten once – in the middle of winter so there was no getting around it) “Guns?” (once) “Magazines?” (twice) “the right bullets” (twice) “Did you get the food out of the fridge?” (once) “Protective gear?” (for the bikes – twice) and so on. We’re now going to add in “spotlight?”
The wildlife in the country following the floods is amazing. Plants and animals both, but mostly birds. On the drive into town we saw the largest flock of white cockatoos and galahs I’ve ever seen. There were thousands of them, and when they took off the flashes of pink from the galahs in amongst the white and yellow of the cockies was a sight to behold. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your viewpoint) still photography doesn’t have sound. The squawks were ferocious as they warned each other of the danger (Doc throwing a stone to make them fly), and then sought a safe landing place in and under the gum tree. The same one they will probably strip of its leaves in a very short time.
A short drive further on and we came to the river. After the rains, the river is now full, and the water was still enough to reflect the hills on its banks. The same hills it probably carved on its million year old meandering journey through them.
The Murrumbidgee in full flood is an amazing sight, with cool mountain creeks running into it, floodplains that had been dry for years now covered in water, and yet more birds. A flock of pelicans was slowly paddling along. Or from the top at least it looked slow and elegant – who knows what was going on under the surface.
But Doc was in another one of those “can’t stop, we have to get there” moods, so we drove straight past with the promise that we’d stop on the way back. The outdoorsy one didn’t mind – she wanted to get into town and use the facilities. She wasn’t quite into the swing of digging a hole yet.