"In the beginning"


The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the blog management, (on the other hand, they are not necessarily not the views of the blog management).

No effort has been made to stay within the bounds of the truth in this blog as it has always been the view of the management that the truth should never be allowed to stand in the way of a good story.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Land We Live In

Two thirds of my trip to SA is actually spent traveling through NSW, this proved to be a real revelation as most of the State is in the grip of drought, this varies from place to place, between a two and an eight year drought in central/outback NSW.

There are many areas that have had no useful rain for these periods of time, many town and even City water supplies are at desperate levels, with only weeks of water supplies left in many cases.

The area varies between cropping country, with no crops planted for 2-3 years in a row, to sheep country with no feed or water for stock, so no sheep.

Paddocks are bare dirt with no grass, and very little other vegetation on them, animals are restricted to kangaroos, wallabies (small species of kangaroo) emus, which seem to be able to survive on next to nothing, and goats, an introduced species which browse on trees and shrubs rather than graze on grass like sheep.

Because the drought is so widespread the kangaroos and wallabies have come into populated areas, searching for food and water, being nocturnal this has made them prey for the traffic on outback roads.

They are mesmerized by the blinding lights, especially of the trucks, and just hop out to an instant death under 18 to 58 wheels, (depending on the type of truck involved) thundering down on them at 100 kms per hour.

In all my previous travels I have never seen the amount of road-kill that exists today, it may well be that these are the more fortunate animals, at least their deaths are quick, it is possible huge numbers will die slowly of starvation or thirst in the near future.

As one would expect, our carrion species, Crows, Hawks and our magnificent Wedge Tailed Eagle are all thriving, as are the Foxes, (another introduced species.)

There were very few Rabbits littering, pardon the pun, the roads, they seem to be well in check with the new virus introduced a few years ago, it’s not the first time we have thought we had our worst introduced species under control though, only to have them bounce back and breed into millions again.

At least the other contender for worst introduced species, the Cane Toad, has not spread this far South, and probably never will, as they like the semi-tropical climate of Northern Australia

Australia has always had a harsh climate and we are no strangers to drought, but with global warming and temperature changes that are occurring now, this is certainly one of our worst for many years.

The reality of towns having to truck and rail water to them is going to be very difficult and expensive, as well as placing a strain on the supplies that service other cities and towns.

As I said earlier this trip has been an eye-opener, I think the vast majority of our population have no idea just how serious our rural situation is, it is also probable that the majority of our politicians are also unaware how serious it has become.

I believe most other states and areas are also affected by drought, we live in such a huge country, which only has a green fringe around the coastline anyway.

We are the true fringe dwellers; most of our population is located there, with a very large proportion of the land mass encompassed by desert and is totally unusable, our primary production, which is extensive, takes place on perhaps 10% of the total land.

Australia is also one of the driest continents on earth, with the exception of the “Murray / Darling” system, which has a huge catchment area, sadly mainly located in a very dry region; our rivers are located close to the coast and drain directly into the ocean.

There is a vast amount of water wasted this way, particularly in Northern Australia during the annual “Wet Season” again to channel some of this wasted water into areas where it could be used would be a hugely expensive undertaking.

However, in the long term this will probably have to be done if our agriculture is to survive, and we are to maintain some semblance of decentralization.

In addition to all the above, since white settlement, just over 200 years ago, we have cleared huge areas of forest, now with no trees to suck up the ground water, and an overuse of irrigation in some of the worst affected parts, water levels are rising as are the salinity levels that used to be held in check.

This has rendered the affected land unusable, as nothing will grow on it.


Marcus said...

It sounds real bad out there. We live in a land of contrasts, WA has had record rainfall in May, including two huge storms, one of which ripped through Bunbury last week causing millions of dollars worth of damage.
The bottom line is human beings have had a devestating impact on the country since the white men arrived. Shades of "The Late Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsay.

Lyle said...

That is certainly a brilliant description of the seriousness of the drought situation. I believe 90% of NSW is declared drought area and of course most of your travels were through the inland areas of that State.

Merle said...

Sounds ike the wide brown land to me. Sure must have been great viewing during your trip.

Peter said...

I haven't read "The Late Great Planet Earth" but it sounds like a suitable title for the present time.
A brilliant description! WOW.
Dorothea McKellar would have certainly agreed.