Friday, January 7, 2011

All In A Day's Drive

It wasn't dreams of Santa's gifts that brought about our Christmas Day predawn wake-up. Instead it was the boisterous calls of the dozens of birds that had flocked to the swollen banks of the Murray River. From the chirps, tweets, whistles, quacks, coos, chatter, squeaks and laughs I could only assume that these jolly birds were rejoicing  the arrival of water in a drought-stricken land. The abudence of water had left the air thick with humidity, and our environment reminded us more of the bayous of New Orleans that the southwest corner of Victoria.

We quickly took down our campsite, partially because of the mozzies but also because our next destination lay over 10 hours away. We anxiously hit the road, excited to discover the surprises the twisty journey would bring.
Even though we soon left the river--bursting at its banks--behind us, the impact of the recent record rains remained visible. With each flooded field and/or washed out side-road we passed, I couldn't help but feel that too much of a good thing had arrived too late. That even though there was some greening up of the heartier vegetation no amount of water would be able to bring back to life the crisp skeletons of trees and vegetation that lined the horizon. There would be no salvaging the ineptly planted, water dependent, cotton crops, which had been abandoned long ago because their yields were too small to be profitable, yet large enough to create a Christmas Day snowlike storm in the middle of Australia.
Late in the afternoon, as we approached the Great Dividing Range, the scenes of destruction disappeared. As we slowly began to climb, the landscape turned from burnt brown with speckles of green to a countryside slashed with various hues of green. It was obvious that this part of the country had not suffered from lack of water and that the recent abundance had just added to the lushness.
Our final destination, high in the snowy mountains, was very distinct from the swamp lands where we started over 9 hours and 700 kilometers earlier.

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