Travellers tales 2 – more about floods

Weds am.

Hours of dark, pessimistic wakefulness passed the night.  It’s still black dark but the kookaburras are laughing already, throwing their gurgling cackle from side to side of the valley.  It must be pre-dawn – the time when you dread to feel wide awake – but it’s impossible to mind when that chortling starts up.  So I watch the light increase in our fusty bedroom and then pad out barefoot into the gentle freshness.  Five to five.  A scruffy little peewit has just arrived on the balcony, very close.  Here’s not used to company here, and I guess I puzzle him.  The birdsong increases: unidentifiable twitterings, loud sardonic-sounding skrarking from the crows.  But how could I possibly know (or understand) the emotions of crows?  Can a bird be happy?  Or satirical?  It’s hard to resist anthropomorphising: probably the very use of language makes it inevitable at some level, by incorporating the natural world into a human structure.  In the same way that Cixous sees language as inevitably gendered or ‘man-made’, it must also be inevitably ‘humanned’. 

Koo-up, koo-up; peep peep; oo-it, oo-it, oo-it, oo-it; chip (long pause) chip.

Unintentionally, they do speak to me.  It is wonderful to listen, and that queasy sleeplessness fades out of consciousness.

And now something is scrabbling energetically on the metal roof.  Some birds cruise in wide circles, galahs move in groups – purposeful straight lines; noisy mynahs can float, lofting elegantly onto their tree perch.  And the swallows are shrill, shrill, just as in Europe.


On Monday Dave and Maddy joined the host of volunteers helping to clean up post-flood wreckage. They were working on the swimming pool at Bellbowrie and its café.  For complex reasons the only way to cope with the muck, slime and frogs in the swimming pool water will be to keep on and on filtering it.  If they were to pump the pool out, the pressure of the soaking ground underneath would make the concrete shell ‘pop out’ – an amazing thought.  This has already happened to the paddling pool: only the weight of its contents keeps the main pool in the ground.  Yesterday (Tuesday 18th ) Andrew joined them.  Vlad, who runs (ran?) the swimming pool, was in desperate straits, but at last a structural engineer had declared his house safe to enter.  It and the pool adjoining had been completely submerged for days, and then standing in hot sun for more days.  Volunteers gutted the house – ripping out the stinking gyprock walls; avoiding the asbestos; junking foully putrid food.  The smell was barely tolerable – a work session could last about twenty minutes, Dave told me.  Only a very few belongings were salvageable.  Elsewhere, where wealthier people lived, they dragged solid wooden furniture outside to dry in the sun, and perhaps be reclaimed.  A waterlogged mattress is massively heavy and flops about, unwieldy as a drunk under its own sodden weight.  They lashed it with electric flex and a rope, and six men were needed to heave it out the front door.

It is hot steamy weather, especially for such heavy work.  Day in, day out, further volunteers (meta-volunteers?) support the volunteers by bringing packed lunches, meals and drinks. 

Late in the afternoon Andrew and David came home reeking and muddy.  They stripped off and leapt into the pool, returning to our guilty-survivors’ luxuries with great splashes.  Only a few minutes later thunder and lightning rolled up out of the south-west, bringing half an hour of pounding rain.  (Paradoxically, this can be seen as a good thing, as it helps to rinse down the mud-logged trees, and settles the possibly toxic dust which otherwise would blow around.)

And then there came a black-out.  So we drove over to Taringa for mountains of Mexican food and cold beers with slices of lime.



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3 Responses to “Travellers tales 2 – more about floods”

  1. Katie Devany Says:

    Only just found your blog – searching for Moggill Ferry pictures – really interesting to hear your holiday experiences – my brother and his family live just off the Moggill Road on Aitcheson Street and moved out to higher ground on the 10th! They escaped unscathed and like your family are helping Bellbowrie clear up – thank God for the Aussie spirit! Our bi-annual visit should have been this Easter but no flights booked yet – he may visit the UK instead! Thanks again – very informative!

    • albertine Says:

      I’m glad you liked the blog. There was so much I could have said – it was quite hard knowing what to put in. But if I’m not careful I end up spending hours and hours writing, and not so much time actually living. I do hope you manage to get out here sooner or later. (I wonder whereabouts you are in the UK?)

  2. Katie Devany Says:

    Hi We are just south of Lancaster, quite cold at the moment and could really do with some sunshine, but if we do get again it’s likely to be next Easter now!

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