Oz flood seeps into US news stream

I usually avoid televisions, but I couldn’t avoid them over the Christmas break when I was waiting for and then recovering from ankle surgery.  Our local news stations are notorious for only showing local news, but night after night there were images of the Australian floods.

First, I followed the flooding in New South Wales by internet. There was flooding in towns with improbable names like Wagga Wagga and Gumly Gumly, that one can only image how to pronounce. Then the flooding moved north to Queensland where sharks are now spotted swimming up Main Street.

One of the sharks was spotted by local butcher Steve Bateman swimming in floodwaters near his shop Thursday while another one was seen in water covering the town’s main street.

Ipswich councilor Paul Tully said he believed the reports. “It’s definitely a first for Goodna, to have a shark in the main street,” he said.

“I know Steve and he wouldn’t say he saw a shark unless he really saw one. It’s not like there have been polar bears or crocodiles spotted. Bull sharks have been in Goodna for a long time in the Bremer [river].

“They are regularly in the Brisbane River and often swim up. I know a number of fishermen who have caught bull sharks.”

What a town.

And now Victoria in the south is expecting heavy rains.

I admit to having been a bit captivated by Australia lately. I just finished reading both Mutant Message Down Under and Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country.  Over these images I’ve tired to impose some order with these maps of towns and rivers, and imagine eucalypts soaking up seasonal waters on the northern flood plain and marsupials leaping across the, what, forest? prairie? mountains?

This first map is a list of rivers.  The second map is something I have never seen before,  an interactive map that  lets you mouse over a remote location and see from automated sensors how much rainfall there has been.  So even if the humans have been evacuated, you can still see information from the area.

So how are they doing in Wagga Wagga these days? The city’s council’s homepage provides a place to, among other things, report a pothole or missing sign.

More recently you can check on the repair status of various bridges damaged in the flood, or find out how to celebrate Australia Day. And how do they do that? With a talent show where you can sing, dance, juggle or tell jokes (without an Oxford comma). Also an army band, free children’s wavers (?) and tatoos (tattoos?). “Don’t forget to bring your hat and sunscreen.” I guess it’s still a sunburned land.

[I was going to google Bill Cosby’s classic 1960’s “How long can you tread water, Noah?” routine and add it to the post, but for one thing I can’t access YouTube these days, also the reposts of loss of life still coming out of the north are quite sobering.]

3 Responses to “Oz flood seeps into US news stream”

  1. canehan Says:

    …marsupials leaping across the, what, forest? prairie? mountains?

    …leaping through the bush, or the Outback.

    Unless it’s rainforest (in far north Queensland), desert in the Centre, or mountains (in the NSW-Victoria area called the Snowy Mountains. They top out at under 8000 feet but in winter have very extensive snowfields.

    “The bush” is the general term for everything outside cities and towns, which can broadly include mountainous and coastal areas. Outback is the general term for anywhere some unspecified but instinctively known distance from the coast, in NSW well beyond the Blue Mountains. The far Outback is “beyond the black stump”. Something like four-fifths of the population of some 20 million, in as your map shows a similar area to the US, live within 100 miles of the coast, mostly the east and south-east coasts, and largely in big cities – roughly, Sydney has 3 m plus, Melbourne similar, greater Adelaide and Brisbane 1 m each.

    Wagga Wagga – pron. wogger wogger – deep a. Gumly I’ve never heard of but is probably gumlee.

  2. canehan Says:

    Also, the reason Australia has only a fraction of the population of the US is that it lacks a Mississippi to support meaningful settlement in the vast Outback and Centre areas. The water that sometimes falls in the inland north and centre, where it creates huge temporary rivers, dissipates into the central deserts. The rains can also create huge, but shallow, lakes in south Australia but these also evaporate/drain away. (The Darling/Murray system on the western border of NSW and the NSW Victoria border drains to sea). That’s why “stations” – cattle ranches – in the far Outback are often measured in hundreds of thousands of square miles, millions of acres. You might be able to run (stocvk) only one head per 100 acres.

    Apologies if this sounds like Australian Geography 101 … :-)

  3. Nijma Says:

    Perfect. I probably need the Geography 99 remedial course. It’s hard to get an idea of a place without seeing it. I know after I traveled in Europe, I suddenly enjoyed reading about those places, whether in fiction or whatever, because I had seen them and had a reference point.

    I’ve googled all of those places now–the Blue Mountains reminds me somewhat of a summer I spent in the Black Hills. The characteristic color of those mountains comes from the local Black Hills Spruce, which is a sort of dark blue color. The land east of there is dry and sounds something like the outback–all the water drops out of the clouds when it passes over the cool mountains. The only thing the land can support is cattle, and very sparse settlement–about 2 people per square mile.

    The only person I know of in Australia right now is Noetica, and I know he mentioned on LH he had already been evacuated once. You might remember he was the catalyst for my Stone’s Ginger Wine adventure.


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