Folks, last weekend I did something I’ve waited all summer to do; waded into a flowing creek full of cool, clear, freshwater.
I even drank some; because that’s the sort of wild-eyed desperado I am.
And desperate is the word, because I had to travel nearly 500km to have a little paddle.
You see, and pardon the pun, rain in the Central Queensland area has been a bit thin on the ground this year; actually, for several years.
Look, I’ll be the first to admit the Gladstone district is not famed for its’ lush, tropical rainforests, rich soil, rolling green hills, wetlands and waterfalls. In fact, the lack of precipitation was a major factor in selecting our city as the perfect place to build one of the worlds’ largest alumina refineries back in the 1960’s.
Rain, you see, is the enemy of the alumina producing process.
(Note: Bowen was the other arid, coastal candidate, but our council must have put out a better spread of sandwiches and soft drinks when the selection committee popped by.)
But, even by Gladstone’s downpour dodging standards, this summer season has been a bit disappointing. Sadly, La Nina, the rain bringing weather system currently swamping much of Far North Queensland and Northern NSW, decided to skip our parched region this year and, as a result, the place is drier than a fried chicken leg in a service station hot box.
Apparently El Nino is predicted to return later this year, so hope for soaking rain is vanishing faster than grass in a cattle pasture. A tragedy for the native wildlife and heart-breaking for our poor farmers, their animals and crops.
You can be the best farmer in the world, but without rain you won’t be farming for long.
On a personal level, I have a six year old granddaughter who has never swum in a local freshwater creek or stream in this neck of the woods. And the waterways with puddles in them are not particularly enticing. Look, call me over-protective, but I’m a tad reluctant to let her frolic in stagnant pools where blue green algae is flourishing.
It appears our only hope for decent downpours lies in praying for a cyclone to pass through our area and dump a deluge of life bringing, creek filling, rain. Things must be pretty grim, because I’m seriously considering giving it a go; and I’m an agnostic.
But cyclones, like bushfires, droughts and floods have been getting bigger and badder in recent years, so I think I’ll skip petitioning The Almighty for the time being as the cure may be worse than the disease.
History is full of examples of civilisations, cities and towns that have been abandoned because the weather changed for the worst, or poor decisions were made regarding land and water management.
If the current local weather pattern we’re experiencing is the new normal, then there’s a pretty good chance my granddaughter and her children, will be swimming in the creek I was in on the weekend; along with the other climate refugees who were forced to move from our region.
But I’m pinning my hopes on our generation getting our collective acts together in time to avoid that particular scenario playing out, and folks, right now is a good time to leap into the water with us to find out how we can all make a difference before it’s too late.
This article first appeared in the Regrow Queensland e-zine. Check it out!