Thursday, January 31, 2013
WELCOME RAINS CAME ARMED WITH SURPRISES - ALL UNWELCOME!
The past week certainly has been an interesting one, to say the least. Although, I’m not sure that “interesting” is the correct adjective to describe the events of the past few days.
We badly needed rain…and, boy! What can I say?
Repeated weather warnings were issued leading up to the Australia Day long weekend. Big trouble was heading our way, and anyone with an ounce or gram of sense would heed the warnings. Even if it eventuated that the worst didn’t happen, all the warnings wouldn’t be in vain. I’ve still got left-over Girl Guide philosophy…Be Prepared! If the worst doesn’t happen, there’s no harm done. But, in truth, I wasn’t completely prepared for what lay ahead.
After having gathered his wits together in the Gulf of Carpentaria Cyclone Oswald soon got jack of the Far North once he’d crossed the west coast of Cape York. Ribald Oswald urgently wished to get to the Coral Sea on the east coast of the Cape. He’d heard a lot about the area, and perhaps thought he could do a cruise along the Great Barrier Reef while he was visiting the mainland areas as well. Kill two birds or more with one stone as it were. Whatever his reasons, his visit to Far North Queensland only lasted around 12 hours; maybe Oswald was on a promise. He was definitely on a mission! Once having satisfied his desires up north, Ex-Cyclone Oswald, became a low (he has many friends in low places, I hear) – he decided to tour Queensland’s coast, threatening and fulfilling his threats to all areas along his route. Not wanting to appear selective, Oswald thought, while he was on a roll, he may as well pay a visit to New South Wales as well. He didn’t want them to miss out on his generosity. Why not, I ask? He’d filled up all the clouds; they were packed to overflowing: and he had a very strong tail wind to help him on his way. He may as well not cut his trip short. That would be a silly thing to do!
And, just for an extra touch of drama, he contacted a couple of his relatives from the Tornado family, six in total; a wild and wooly bunch, once known as the Willy-Willies; but, of course, the politically-correct mob took offence at the original family name and made them change it; so at the risk of prosecution, they did.
I’m remiss…the tornadoes had a trial run at Grasstree Beach, just south of Mackay on the Thursday morning before regrouping and planning their next strike further south.
Ozzie (a fitting nickname seeing he shared his presence and liquid gale-forced presents with us all on Australia Day long weekend) asked if the tornadoes could join him while he visited the Bundaberg district. A rip-roaring barrel of fun, they happily obliged, of course; always up and ready for a free day out! They certainly had a great deal of pleasure at the expense of the people in Bundaberg’s surrounding areas on Saturday, 26th January – Australia Day. They couldn’t stop themselves from spinning and spiraling in excitement they were so chuffed!
Not satisfied with all the upheaval they caused in the Bundaberg areas, the tornadoes kept other areas in south-east Queensland on tenterhooks and on their toes (a difficult feat to achieve simultaneously, I can tell you – I’ve tried!); being unpredictable, untraceable and incapable of being tracked the possibility of more tornadoes striking hung heavily in the air hidden amongst the laden, grey clouds already threatening above.
Soon those exhausted clouds made good their threat; relieved, they began dumping their weighty burden. To give us here on the mountain a mild taste of what was to come, the precipitation began on Friday – just gentle rain at first; nothing much to write home about at that point in time. Saturday arrived and the wind thought it would poke its head out and join in the fray. It soon picked up speed and we were battered by blustering, tempestuous winds that were to last all weekend. The wind didn’t want to miss out, either; actually it was the star of the show, I think! Roaring like a fleet of F1-11s, the wind accompanied the rain from Saturday to around 3 pm Monday, when all of a sudden it was as if someone had turned off a switch. The rain and wind stopped…dead!
But, before that happened, the battering and drenching continued. Trees groaned, moaned and creaked under the force of the arrogant gale. Unidentified objects continually landed loudly on my roof and whacked forcibly against my walls. I think I spent the whole weekend purple in the face from holding my breath; expecting at any moment a large tree would come crashing down upon my cabin. Fortunately, that didn’t occur.
Come Sunday, I felt power outages were imminent, so fortunately, I filled up every container and bucket I could find with water in readiness. Losing power here on this property and others on Tamborine Mountain means we have no water. The mountain dwellers depend on their own water supply, not town/council supplied water. When there’s a power outage the electric pump, naturally, ceases working; therefore, no water for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing etc; and most important of all, for the toilet. The main water supply to my cabin on this property is pure, underground water from a bounteous aquifer, topped and backed-up by rainfall.
Shortly after 3 pm Sunday, 27th January, the power went off as I suspected it was going to do.
Here in my little abode, I’m all electric! But that’s okay…if I survived Cyclone Joy when on Newry Island, I surely could survive a blackout on Tamborine Mountain.
The hours ticked by; and then the days; the power was restored here to where I live on the hill on the dot of 10 am, Thursday, 31st January.
Unfortunately, when it rains my poor little car who is almost as old as I am and, who I believe, has caught some of my habits or quirks, doesn’t start. Don’t smile…of course Bessie is a “who”! She’s been with me for a long time, old Bessie. She’s been pretty good to me; I wouldn’t insult her by calling her an object or a thing!
I read by day as long as daylight permitted; and slept by night. I had a mass of early, but somewhat restless nights. There was little else to do. I had no television; no computer; I did have withdrawals over to loss of those two. Even my two furry, four-legged rascals - my good and best mates - were a little bemused with what was going on around them. Often I caught them staring at the television screen wondering why there were no pictures, sound and movement coming from that big flat thing! And as for no computer - that had them tossed as well! Animals are aware – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
I had no cooking facilities and none to make coffee or tea, but that didn’t worry me too much. I can do without coffee or tea. My existence doesn’t depend on them.
There were, and are still thousands of people far, far worse off than I was or am; and they will be for a long time to come, poor beggars. Many have lost everything; and that is just beyond my imagination. It’s so very sad.
I felt like the proverbial “mushroom”…you know the one…”kept in the dark” because I had no access to the news. I had no idea what was going on, not only in my little corner of the world, but in the greater “outside”, as well. Luckily, I still had telephone access. My ex-husband down the coast and my brother in Tewantin on the Sunshine Coast kept me up-to-date, daily, with some of what was happening throughout the south-east area; and I was grateful to them for that.
From Sunday to Thursday, I fed myself on raw nuts and fresh fruit. By Thursday, I was becoming a little concerned, however, that I might start swinging from the tree branches, those that are left, of course; or the rafters and chandeliers. It hasn’t happened yet, so I think I’ve managed to dodge that bullet, at least!
By Wednesday, I was sick to death of “bird baths” and “French Baths”…I wanted a good, old Aussie shower! And I was soon to have one!
The rain started falling again on Wednesday, but nothing like what we’d experienced previously. Around 1.10 pm a heavy downpour pounded noisily on the roof. I thought this could be my last chance for a while! I grabbed a cake of soap and left my modesty inside the cabin. I cared not. All I wanted was a cleansing, refreshing shower. Standing out under tepid rainwater overflowing from the guttering, I let out a sigh of sheer pleasure. I let the water flow through my hair and over my body…it was blissful!
I was caught between a rock and a hard place, you see. Even when I managed to get my car started on the Wednesday, I couldn’t bring myself to join the rest of the world. My hair felt ghastly, as did the rest of me. My outside shower under which I relished Nature’s bounty had made such a difference. My spirits were immediately lifted. However, even though I “washed” my hair, I hadn’t used shampoo and conditioner in fear that the rain would stop before I had time to wash it all out. If that had happened I would have ended up with hair stiffly standing up on end like a Golliwog in days of old before the PC crowd took hold of everything!
It rained lightly all throughout Wednesday night, and as the night progressed into the wee small hours of the morning it grew heavier. My window of opportunity, I believed, had closed. Once again, “Bessie” wouldn’t start, I thought. Just before 5.30 am, I decided I’d better top up my water supplies for toilet purposes, mainly (I still had enough for drinking), while it was pouring with rain because I still had no idea when the power would be restored. I had been advised on Wednesday that it may not be reconnected until late Friday, if then!
“What the hell!” I thought. “I’m going to get drenched filling up buckets, pots etc., I may as well have another shower while I’m at it!” So I did…at 5.30 am! And again, it was sheer bliss!
I was one of the first people into the local IGA supermarket as soon as it opened its doors Thursday morning. I was beyond caring that my hair hadn’t been shampooed; conditioned; blow-dried and in place; at least it was clean to a degree as was my body, beyond a degree. Anyway, most mountaineers were in the same boat as me, and in truth, I was probably a shower or two ahead of the majority. And talking about “boats”, we’d received enough water for an Ark! Move aside Noah!
I should learn to button my lips and cease from making what I think are humorous comments. As I was loading up my car with my fruit and raw nuts replenishments…yes…I needed to top up my supplies in case the non-power situation continued ad infinitum. I couldn’t buy milk as there was none to be found; anyway, I couldn’t at that stage still, keep it cold. I’d given up on all that was in my own fridge. The contents will fill up the garbage bin this week! The refrigeration sections and the freezers at IGA were empty.
Anyway…as I was saying…I should keep my insane sense of the ridiculous to myself. One would think I would’ve learnt by now…but no!
So there I was approaching my car to unload my purchases and feeling spritely and joyous that I had shed myself of my cabin-fever…perhaps it was the cabin-fever that made me do it…or the Devil as they used to quip on that great old show of the late Sixties-Early Seventies…”Laugh-In”.
Three or so people were wandering towards the IGA entrance and with broad smile on my face, I said to them: “I hope you’ve all had a shower this morning before venturing out!”
Don’t you just love it when in return you receive a blank look! Oh! Well! They probably just thought it was that crazy woman who lives on the mountain – ignore her, she’ll go away! But I won’t! One must stir up natives…they’ll become too complacent, otherwise!
Lo and behold! At 10 am…let there be light…and there was! Let there be television…and there was! Let the fridge start doing what it’s meant to do again…and it did! Let there be a computer…and there wasn’t! My computer was sulking and it wouldn’t start. “Edgar” obviously had been feeling neglected; he refused to heed my bidding; giving out “Beep! Beep! Beeps!” in protest. That’s enough to turn a girl grey; but as I’m already grey, my hair colour remained the same!
Wasting no time, I called the cavalry and the head trooper promptly arrived to solve “Edgar’s” and my problem.
So, here I sit on Friday morning, 1st February – showered (inside, hot water), shampooed and conditioned; coiffured; coffeed; sitting demurely, not swinging from the rafters. So sadly, I must disappoint you…you may not call me “Cheetah”!
An Addendum…but one of most importance – one must feel for our poor farmers…our hardworking people on the land…so many have lost so much. And, I, for one, can understand if they just want to throw their hands up in the air and walk away. It’s heartbreaking the devastating losses they are going through…again…so soon after 2011.