Friday, February 13, 2004

The Rain

On Wednesday we had some rain, when I say rain I mean about twenty five mls or an inch for metrically challenged folks (Poms and Seppos). This didn't appear to be much of a problem, the animals seemed to like it and I wasn't planning to go anywhere, I had a bit of a look around and everything seemed to be sweet, the roads around the camp seemed pretty alright, a little damp on the surface and a few puddles where there were dips. I decided to check out the road to the old Dresser mine and townsite where I have a water bore that supplies the camp and mill. On the way down the road, I think this is the Normay Hillside road, there were a couple of places where little creeks had run over the road and although there was no water visible there were some muddy spots, the car had no problem in getting through and I managed to arrive at the old Dresser place with no trouble. I checked out the old Lister engine that drives the pump and that was pretty good, so returned to the camp.

I had a phone call that said I was to meet the candy truck at the end of my 50 kilometre driveway where it meets the main road and would be advised what time I needed to be there, I reckoned I would make it with no major problems, so stayed close to the office in anticipation as I was expecting a little package containing a card reader that a friend was sending up to me and a couple of letters that the old trouble and strife had sent. At about half past twelve the phone rang and they told me that the tucker truck wasn't coming on account of the weather but not to worry as the big boss was leaving and would meet me at the turning in about an hour with my little parcel.

I had already checked the vehicle out, you know, water and oil and fuel, my water bottle full of sweet drinking water and ice, sufficient cigarettes for the journey and a pack of emergency tobacco, filters and papers in case I got stuck, together with a bit of tucker, just in case. Now you might think this is a bit of overkill to travel fifty kilometres but this is pretty rugged country to travel, through some picturesque hills and across sweeping plains, on a dirt road in rainy conditions, with plenty of things to give grief to a wary traveler. As I said before it had been raining the night before, and even though I had checked the road to the south, I was heading sort of North East, and it was overcast and threatening more rain.

I set off and although there were a couple of places going through the spur range of the George hills where I slipped and slewed a fair bit and a couple of slowly running creeks that I had to ford, that part of the road was fairly easy driving. Once out of the hills I was a little more concerned as there were long stretches that were just made of the sandy loam of the plains, and even though there was water on parts of the road for most of the journey, I managed to pick a fairly dry route between the puddles and mini lakes that tended to be on one side of the road or the other, in some places the water was in the middle of the road but there was drier ground on one of the sides, but not always the same side of course, that would be too easy.

There were a few more small creeks I had to cross on this part but none were running, so there was no drama. This time along the road, apart from a couple of stray cows I had seen no livestock, but plenty of birds twitting about, this is unusual at this time of year in the middle of the day, but I guess because of the overcast conditions and the resulting drop in temperature, the birds were less likely to be held up in trees and under bushes to keep out of the heat, I did see a few kangaroos (they may have been wallabies, I am no expert) who again were taking advantage of the cool to get about and do whatever marsupials do. I rounded the last bend and saw the old telegraph pole that used to carry the wire from Hedland to Marble bar, that tells me I am close to the bitumen and should therefore slow down, and as I did the radio crackled, It was Peter Cole, the mine manager asking me if I was close to the road as he was just coming through the Shaw rive, my reply was, if I was any closer I would be on it, as I pulled up with my nose on the road, he was about five hundred metres away so we had timed it pretty well.

Well we had a bit of a yarn there, on a lonely turning in the middle of nowhere, he told me that the only place he saw any water was at the Carlindie creek, and it was building up on the East side ready to come over the road, but there was bugger all in any of the other creeks and rivers. I got my wee package and we headed off on our respective journeys.

I headed back to camp, and had a pretty uneventful trip, having just driven down I knew where the dodgy spots would be, I did manage to get a couple of pictures of a Great Bustard (known locale as a bush turkey even though they look in no way like a turkey) and arrived back at the camp just as the sun was peeping through. I made a cup of tea, I read my letters and tried to install the card reader, but I couldn't get it to work. When I went for another cup of tea about an hour later, the sun had disappeared and it was coming on to rain again, and it rained and rained for several hours, I thought to myself that this would really mean I would be cut off, but when I awoke this morning the weather was fine, and as the day wore on the land around appeared to be drying off. I went for a bit of a drive to see what, if any damage had been done and found it much the same as yesterday, with the difference that a couple of good rains in a couple of days and the countryside had changed from a brownish tinged landscape, to a green and pleasant land. Now if you have never lived in this part of this great sunburnt land, and seen this transformation, you will probably find it hard to accept that such a change can take place in such a short time, but believe me it does happen and there are even flowers blooming already, just to take advantage of the heat and moisture and to bloom and set seed to procreate their species.

The rest of today, Friday the thirteenth has been glorious, the country is alive, the roads are drying out and everything looks good, or so I thought. I have to ring into Bamboo Creek twice a day so they know I am safe and well, and when I rang the girl there, she told me that all the creeks and rivers between Hedland and Marble bar are over the road and the Coongan river is about four metres deep, the shire have closed the road, and nobody is going anywhere, a little further down the track, the Town of Nullagine is completely cut off. Nullagine is more a village than a town and it has two rivers that run through it, or more likely one river that runs through it twice, or maybe even two bits of the same river, anyway the river or rivers are up at a flood, the cops station is cut of from the rest of the town and you will be able to get away with just about anything in Nullagine this week end.

And my old china Charley reckons she lives in the middle of nowhere?
That reminds me of a couple of trips I took to Nullagine a few years ago, I may try and relate them tales later.

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