Of Droughts and Flooding Rains

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping planes,
Of rugged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.

I can’t help but think of these lines from the famous poem, My Country by Dorothea Mackeller in which she compares the extremes of her Australian home to woods and gardens of England. Its an old poem, old-fashioned in style, but her observations remain as true today as they were when she was writing. There is something quite stirring about her love for her country, despite her understanding of all that it can dish out.

The news this morning was dominated by the flooding rains in the north east, but there were also stories about the bushfires which continue to burn in the south. January is a  time of year that brings the extremes of heat from the desert, but also heavy rains from the tropical cyclones. This January will be remembered for both. The cyclone season has arrived in the north. Its late, but keen on making its mark. I feel for the people of Queensland who are facing more flooding so soon after the devastating floods of 2011.

As usual my little corner of the world is safe. High, if not exactly dry. The rain from the “former tropical cyclone” that has left havoc up north is making its way down the east coast, and likely to intensify the rain and winds in Sydney over the next 24 hours. I cancelled my visit to family on the other side of the city for fear of being stranded in a waterlogged train on the way home.

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Earlier a saw a Kookaburra sitting on electricity wires in the rain. I stretched my little camera to its capacity to give you a glimpse. You can’t quite see it, but he had water dripping of his beak and tail. I felt sorry for him, although he seemed to be exhibiting a calm acceptance. Later, during a break in the rain, I heard him sing out his famous kookaburra call.

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I worry for my sunburnt country, because I fear that the extremes that Dorothea Mackellar knew are going to become more intense and frequent as the worlds’ climate comes increasingly under pressure.  I imagine many of you feel the same for your own country, with its unique challenges of climate and geography. I am not particularly nationalistic in an overt kind of way, but I do think its only natural that our own land takes a special place in our hearts.

Core of my heart my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold.

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