Tuesday, March 29, 2011

OPEN THE FLOODGATES





With the pictures burnt forever on my brain of the floods which swept through Queensland and other States in the past few months, and the speed and destruction of the tsunami in Japan following the massive earthquake, it’s fascinating that what can instil fear and cause so much devastation and heartbreak for a whole host of people, can in another situation become something of a tourist attraction.

It barely took three days, but for the second time in two months constant rain in Tassie’s north meant authorities were expecting flooding in several regions of exceptional proportions. With three levee gates closed in rural Longford, the town was on the verge of being cut off as plans were underway to close the levee gate over the main road into town. I managed to make it through, and figured the water still had quite a way to go before that would need to happen.

On any given day the Cataract Gorge in Launceston is a drawcard to both locals and visitors alike, but when in flood it’s a sight to behold. The swimming pool, picnic area, playground and path across The Basin all disappear, and the suspension bridge is closed, ain’t no one gonna survive if they happen to fall into that maelstrom of thunderous water and debris. Undaunted by the churning beneath them, there was no shortage of crazy people who braved the journey across on the chair lift.

Standing at the suspension bridge, watching the huge volume of water roaring through the Gorge as it hurtled on down to the Tamar River, I was reminded of what those terrified residents of Toowoomba and Grantham and the Lockyer Valley must have faced as they bore the brunt of nature in all its fury with next to no warning.

When you’re out of harm’s way and no one you love or nothing you own is under threat, a flood can be a spectacular sight, but to be on the other side of the equation and lose everything in the space of a few minutes, you do really have to go through the horror of it to have any comprehension of what that must be like.

Our poor planet has taken a battering of late with all manner of natural disasters, especially in the Pacific region. As individuals, communities, towns, cities and nations grapple with the chaos and practical details of rebuilding and getting their livelihoods back on track, there is also the human aspect of rebuilding lives which for many will be a more difficult and much longer road to recovery.

As statistics increase into the thousands of those who are now homeless or have lost their lives, the economic impact is calculated, and the reality of how long it will take to recover starts to sink in, we can easily lose sight that behind each statistic is or was a living person. People just going about their normal daily routine, caught up in one of the world’s major catastrophes.

The suddenness of these recent events has reminded me how fragile life is, and how precious.

Each day is a gift, as are those we love.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

GOODBYE WORK, HELLO HOLIDAY









With a wedding invitation beckoning me to the mainland, I finally had a purpose to escape for a short holiday, so with the car packed and the promise of a good night’s sleep aboard The Spirit I left my work, desk and computer behind to relax awhile. Had some drama before I even made it to the boat, or is it a ship, when does a boat become a ship? Ran over a snake, my second in the last two months, then some rev head decided to run me off the road as he came roaring round a bend on the wrong side of the road. Was a relief to drive up the ramp and head for my cabin.

Hit the ground running in Melbourne, dashed here, zotted there as I caught up with friends and family over the week. In between the to-ing and fro-ing managed some back to nature time, even fluked a few good pics. Chilled out in the peace of a Warragul park, and the Cranbourne Royal Botanic Gardens were an eye opener. The 20 acre display area of the 350 acre property is still being developed, with interactive areas incorporated into distinct climate zones and their native flora.

Trekked up most of the 1000 steps of the Kokoda Trail memorial walk in the Ferntree Gully National park, and was treated with the sighting of a lyrebird scratching around just off the track. A popular training spot for local fitness fanatics, I lost count how many were power walking, running or trudging up and down, with heart monitors and other techno doohickeys separating the serious ones from us mere mortals, and this was just mid week. Apparently it’s like Bourke St on the weekends.



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

BACKYARD BEAUTIES


Did my good deed for the day, saved a cute little fella from a fate worse than death. Set down a pile of damp newspapers on the nature strip for the garbos to pick up for recycling, when out hopped this native frog. As much as I tried to coax him to head somewhere safer before being flattened under all that stuff on the garbage truck, he was determined to stay in his newfound favourite damp spot. So, out he had to come, managed to get him to smile for the camera before depositing him in another damp spot out of harm’s way.

While out in the backyard, thought I’d remove this rather shaggy looking spider’s web draped between some shrubs, when what I thought was a half digested fly in the middle of the web started to move. If you’ve read any of my previous entries on encounters with the arachnid family you’ll know they’re not exactly my favourite choice when it comes to the insect world.

But this little thing, and he was barely the size of a five cent piece, was something to behold. My mate next door had seen them before in Queensland, and he referred to it as a crown of thorns spider. What it lacked in size it more than made up for in looks, so he retained residency rights in the garden.

Then to add to my discoveries we’ve had a visitation around here in the past few days, not quite in Biblical proportions, but wherever there’s a light on Bogong moths have moved in. These are no fluttery miniatures, you can actually make a meal out of them. Couldn’t convince them to open their wings during the day, but when they do the bigger ones are as large as your hand.

What an amazing world we live in. With so much conflict and drama happening both near and far, it was kind of nice to take a few minutes to appreciate some of the more unassuming wonders of creation.