Friday, 12 February 2010

High Tide and Green Grass

Despite the title, this post has nothing to do with the 1966 Rolling Stones Compilation of the same name.
It’s about the transformational capacity of rain in the bush.
I’ve just come back from a few days’ work in the St George, Thallon, Dirranbandi area – cotton country. It rained after Christmas, and last week they had some really heavy downpours.
Prior to that, the Beardmore Dam (pictured) was at its lowest level in ten years, and things were looking grim for the irrigated cotton crop. Some farmers had sold out, and there didn’t seem to be any hope of a crop this year. Now they have enough water for two years and the place is humming.
Water is cascading over the spillway and will be for a few more days. This happens rarely, and I was lucky to be in town to see it.
There’s a whole new vibe in the town. Conversations in pubs and newsagents are invariably about the weather, but they have a cheerful cadence usually absent out here. Everybody swaps details of how much, when, and who got bogged. The vehicles have red/brown mud stains and great globs of dried mud litter the streets.
Car and tractor dealers are dreaming of sales and profits.
There’s a downside of course – there always is. Clouds of sandflies (midges) will make a meal of you if you’re not careful, and I have to be. I’m allergic to their bites and was hospitalized once with blood poisoning after 160 bites (I counted) scored on an ill-advised canoeing trip down the Black river near Townsville in the wet season.
I happily put up with the sandflies this trip.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


Today I had the privilege of witnessing pure unadulterated courage.

I spent most of the day in the rehabilitation ward of the Royal Children’s’ Hospital with my brother and his twelve year-old son.

This lad had a medulloblastoma cerebral tumor removed on Anzac Day 2009, and after months of chemotherapy is now well enough to begin a period of intensive therapy to help him rehabilitate.

He is beginning to regain speech; his muscles, wasted after months of enforced inactivity are being made to work again, and he is setting off down the road of regaining maximum independence.

His absolute focus and dedication to the task is breathtaking. If determination and sheer dogged grit have anything to do with it, he will get there. It was an absolute privilege to witness the beginning of this journey.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...