December was the second-driest month in what was a dry year.
The Kookaburra Cottage rain gauge recorded just 16mms for the month and a total of 546mm for the whole year. By October, spring had quickly warmed into what was predicted to be a long, hot El Niño summer. Paddocks browned off and farmers started hand-feeding stock.
By mid-December my dam was a glorified mud puddle. The grass crunched underfoot when I walked on it and the vegetables I planted in September were wilting fast. The chain-of-ponds creek that bisects the property was bone dry and kangaroos were being killed on the road in large numbers as they’d started to graze on the side of the road where there was still some grass.
A few days before Christmas Steve and Di called in to the shop to wish me Merry Christmas and check on sales of Di’s book. As they were leaving they commented on how hot it had been and I said, “I wonder if it will rain again … ever?”
Steve turned at the door and said, “They’ve forecast a change in the New Year.”
I don’t know who ‘they’ were – meteorologists? soothsayers? gods? – but on 3rd January it started to rain. Steady, drenching rain. Parched paddocks soaked it up, the dams started to fill. After four days I’d recorded over 110mms and was reminded, yet again, of Dorothea McKellar's words: Over the thirsty paddocks/ Watch, after many days/ The filmy veil of greenness/ That thickens as we gaze.
The rain kept falling.
The wettest January in 30 years ended with a bang, quite literally, over the weekend with one of the most spectacular thunderstorms and downpours I have ever experienced. That’s a big call. Having spent almost 30 years of my life in sub-tropical Brisbane, I’ve seen some pretty hefty storms. Saturday night’s effort came across in three separate storm fronts, with, according to one report, something like 700 lightning strikes in one 10-minute period and over 5000 in an hour. Bloke in the supermarket this afternoon* said his TV antenna was hit by lightning which then fried his TV. At least one power pole close to here was hit. Thank the gods for off-grid power!
By Sunday morning my previously dry creekbed was a raging torrent up to four metres wide in some places. As the sun set on January 2016, the Kookaburra Cottage rain gauge had recorded a whopping 229mms of rain for the month. The vegetable garden has gone feral and the pumpkins I planted in a big pot on the verandah have turned into triffids, and threaten to grab me whenever I walk out there.
The creek (pictured) has gone down but is still rushing with beautiful clean water. The roos were grazing down on the flat next to it when I walked Rocky this afternoon and the grass is lush and green. Good thing I bought that ride-on mower. Another downpour this afternoon but the ground is so saturated that the water is just lying on the surface.
I’m off to play golf in the morning. Wonder if gumboots are considered appropriate footwear at Braidwood Golf Club?
*One of the joys of living in a country town is that you can get all the local news in one trip to the supermarket.