I was reading the paper this morning, and came across the article about drenching rain in western NSW and across Victoria. Hooray! While reading the article I had something tickling the back of my brain and I finally realised what it was. My parents are currently travelling outback South Australia and NSW, of course it’s raining!
During my childhood we spent every Easter holiday and some winter holidays driving through western NSW and NE South Australia. I’ve been to Tibooburra more times than most people (which incidentally had the highest recorded rainfall yesterday, 44 mill. In a place where the kids are sent home from school if it rains) I’ve jumped across all the states at Cameron’s Corner, I’ve mined for rose gypsum on a sheep farm past Broken Hill and I’ve had a semi-tame wedge tail eagle land on my back and give me some serious scratches. I’ve travelled the Oodnadatta track and the Birdsville track, stayed underground at Coober Pedy and almost been bogged in Lake Ayre. I’ve seen more miles of red sand than anyone ever should, and when my department recently insituted a photo based screensaver of some of the work we do, including shots of various national parks I was able to say “been there” to most of them.
The thing we never managed to achieve in all of these trips was to make it to Cooper’s Crossing, where Burke and Wills died. Never. We tried many, many times. Why? Floods.
Every time we went outback it flooded. Really serious flooding.
The Nyngan floods that were up to the second storey? We almost got caught in that. We only just made it out of the town and across the bridge at West Wyalong before they closed it. I can still remember the volume of water splashing up around the car.
My grandfather was a country boy, he grew up in Cobar and lived most of his early adult life in Griffith. He was with us on the trip where Nyngan flooded. This is the grandfather that told stories of catching rabbits during the depression, who would regale us with tales of wongas, fierce creatures that hid in the bush ready to pounce on children while bushwalking unless we carried a strong walking stick with us to beat them off (he even explained the cut out piece in his ear as where some wongas had got him early in life. I later found out it was a skin cancer). He had a tale to explain the flooding. “Someone ran over the Rainbow Serpent” was his explanation, gave it a good squishing and now it was grumpy and was dumping lots of rain on us.
It was a fun explanation. I miss him and his stories.
What did the rest of us think? We just figured that every time the Taylors went outback it was going to rain. The evidence is still holding up. We stopped the outback trips around the time that the drought started in 1996ish, and only started going back in the last couple of years. It’s rained every time Mum & Dad, or my brother have gone out.
I wonder if we could sell our services as rain gods, a la Douglas Adams’ “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul“. I suppose I could do my bit, as long as we don’t have to play “spot the first spinifex” ever again.