I hope long term readers of holtieshouse will bear with me, I am going to select
a few of my previous posts and give them a re-run, where necessary I will
update as required.
This one needs a little refreshing, it was written on May 25th last year, since
then, fortunately, most of the drought affected areas have had good rains,
there is still, (and always will be) an arid area through here that will never
be productive, I personally love this area, it has a rugged beauty totally unlike
the picture postcard scenery, (which I also love.)
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
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
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
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. (Many of the towns, and indeed cities, water supplies
are still at dangeously low levels)
our population have no idea just how serious our rural problems are, it is also
probable that the majority of our politicians are also unaware how serious it
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
We are the true fringe dwellers; most of our population is located there, with a
very large proportion of the land mass consists of arid desert that is totally
inhabitable, our primary production, which is extensive, takes place on
perhaps 10% of the total land.
are located close to the coast and drain directly into the ocean, often after only
flowing very short distances.
The exception to this is the “Murray / Darling” river system, this system travels
some 2500 kms before discharging into the sea, there is a huge catchment area
ranging from the mountains of the great dividing range to the huge flat
expanses of NSW.
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
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,
underground water levels are rising as is the salinity level, this used to be held
in check by the balance of nature.
This salinity has rendered the affected land unusable, as nothing will grow on
it, work has begun on reclamation, ironically the best solution is to replant the
trees that our forebears cut down on the perimeters of the affected areas, and
let their roots suck up enough groundwater for the salt levels to be dropped
back to where they were.