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.]