“I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges, of drought and flooding rains”

(My Country by Dorothea Mackellar, 1904)

This is one of my favourite poems. I inevitably tear up whenever I read it because Ms Mackellar seems to capture the Australia I know and love so well in her words.

Australia is a land of extremes. With the exception of Antartica, Australia is the driest of the 7 continents. More than 80% of the Australia has an annual rainfall of less than 600 mm (24 in). Hard to believe if you are in Queensland or New South Wales at the moment! But when you consider the size of Australia, it is easier to understand. The majority of central Australia is arid; the climate in the northern parts of the country varies from tropical to equatorial; the east coast largely has a sub tropical climate; and the southern portion of the continent is temperate.

To illustrate the differences, Lake Eyre, in South Australia, averages just 81mm (3 in) of rain per year while Babinda, in North Queensland, has an annual average of 4 279.4mm (168.5 in). Our country is so vast that some areas can be in drought while others are experiencing flooding. For perspective, during a flood in central and eastern Queensland in 2011, an area the size of France and Germany combined was under water!

The current flooding in Queensland and New South Wales is the result of ex Tropical Cyclone Debbie, which devastated the Whitsunday Islands and coastal Queensland towns including Airlie Beach, Collinsville and Bowen earlier this week. A cyclone is an area of low pressure around which the winds flow clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere (counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere). If the sustained winds around the centre reach 119 km/h (with wind gusts in excess of 170 km/h), then the system is called a severe tropical cyclone (or hurricane or typhoon in other countries).

Unfortunately, the damage caused by cyclones doesn’t end as soon as the cyclone is downgraded. The resulting low pressure system can continue to cause widespread flood and wind damage, as is currently occurring in SE QLD. Keep up to date with road conditions and flood threats in your area through social media - here is a link to an official page that is worth following

https://www.facebook.com/SEQUESTQLD/?ref=page_internal - and your radio/TV and stay home if you can until the threat has passed. Most importantly, don’t drive through flood waters - even if you have a 4WD - you never know how much damage has occurred to the road underneath, it’s just not worth the risk.

“An opal hearted country, a wilful, lavish land,

All you who have not loved her, you will not understand -

Though Earth holds many splendours, wherever I may die

I know to what brown country, my homing thoughts will fly. ”

(My Country by Dorothea Mackellar, 1904)

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