Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Our start of summer had been different than other years. Rather than being faced with dry, hot campgrounds we had been faced with flooded, swampy areas. On Christmas Eve, as we sat next to the river that had exceeded its banks, we never imagined that the excess of water in the drought stricken area would carry on into the heat of summer. We expected that with the arrival of the soaring temperatures the abundance of water would quickly dissipate leaving the land in a dry and barren state.There was no way that we could predict that the multitude of storms that were besieging the northwestern part of the country, thousands of kilometers away, would keep the rivers flowing at above normal heights in our neck of the woods. As I watched the flooding in Queensland on television, cars being washed away by powerful rivers, it all seemed so far away. I never dreamed that in less than a week's time I would come in contact with the same waters.
With Australia Day on the horizon we set out for a long weekend in Melbourne. I decided to travel by the Overland train, not because it was less expensive than flying, but because the 10 hour ride would allow me to sit back and enjoy the countryside. Unfortunately, my trip was not as stress free as I had hoped. Less than 24 hours before I was to embark on my journey not only had the floodwaters from the north had arrived in the state of Victoria, but local storms were exacerbating the situation and causing travel havoc. Roads were being flooded and closed. Fortunately, the railway remained unaffected and we had an on time departure. 
Just hours into our trip the impact of the recent rains became visible, as the countryside began to green up. As we traveled westward, towards the Grampian Mountains, the bucolic scenes of the pastoral wheat-belt turned into a swampland. The flooded fields and washed out roads were the result of an excess of rain, and the water had no where to escape. 

As we approached the banks of the Wimmera River, the train was no longer surrounded by stagnant pools of water, but rather a free flowing river. As we slowed to a crawl an announcement was made that the river had begun to flow across the tracks. Thankfully the waters were relatively tame, and we were able to continue on our journey without too much drama.  However, as I looked out the window and marveled at the water disappearing below our train, I couldn't help but be awed by Mother Nature.

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