Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

It rained

SONY DSCThere are plenty of people who live in a city whose hearts are really in the country, like me.

We notice every scrap of green, tune out white noise, avoid fireworks and welcome the rain. And what type of rain?

Short sharp downpours can bounce off rock-hard land and run off, it’s the long slow soaking rain that’s needed; the type of rain we enjoyed in abundance this week. If only some of it would fall on Broken Hill.


I spent less than four years living in that remote mining town yet it left a lasting impression.


I never complain about rain any more. I wash my hands under a running tap and think of friends on station properties where they wouldn’t dream of being so profligate. They ran out of water long ago. They’ve been carting it in for months now and re-using every precious drop thanks to strategically placed buckets, hoping to salvage what’s left of gardens that are rapidly turning up their toes.


Joining the Sydney City branch of the Country Women’s Association (and no, that’s not an oxymoron) has helped. It’s not a fashionable organisation to join. That’s probably why I like it.

Women with a deep affinity for rural and remote Australia gather at CWA meetings across Sydney to promote the cause of women and families living in country areas. We raise money for charity.

There’s another connection close to my heart at this time of year too, and it’s a deep connection to country and family many thousands of miles away. It’s still hard to equate Christmas with soaring temperatures. Instead of picking holly and ivy from hedgerows shrouded in frost, I looked for the Sydney summer equivalent, searching for the red and green of Christmas tradition.DSC00071

I didn’t have far to look. Not much grows in our shady backyard but I had a modicum of success planting veg in the front garden this year. A leggy tomato plant appeared of its own volition, so it supplied the red, complete with crowns. Mint and parsley gave the green. Before I knew it I’d picked a plate of summer salad, including cucumber and spring onion that were planted from seed.

DSC00076We always check the weather forecast for Broken Hill and there was a rare shower icon on the weather forecast a couple of days ago. It delivered an inch of rain over Packsaddle but nothing 80 kilometres further south, where they so desperately need it.

The best Christmas present of all would be rain over Broken Hill and surrounding stations – in fact rain over any part of Australia that’s currently suffering drought conditions would be wonderful.

It’s not the kind of thing you can wrap and tuck under the tree, that’s for sure.

DSC00116It’s infinitely more precious.

Merry Christmas everyone.


12 comments on “It rained

  1. Ross Simshauser
    December 23, 2015

    Deb, As I was born and reared in the country, I had to leave home,get atrade and
    of course lived in country towns ever since. I am now 73 years old but I find the
    older I become the more I miss living where I grew up.
    You seem to have grasp Australia with both hands as you obviously love living
    here.You must also miss where you were raised and I can understand that.
    Yes, Broken Hill is a lovely area. I have been there twice and hope to go back
    again next year.We live 1030km from Broken Hill at Tamworth, North West NSW.
    I really enjoyed your book, ‘Australian Families”.
    Where can I purchase “Love in the Outback” ?
    Merry Christmas.
    Ross Simshauser


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      December 23, 2015

      Hello Ross, thanks for getting in touch and for telling me a bit about yourself. I agree with you, the older you get the more you miss your childhood home. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading Australian Farming Families, you should be able to buy Love in the Outback from bookstores but I can also send you a copy. I will email you separately. Best wishes for Christmas, Deb


  2. helen meikle's scribblefest
    December 23, 2015

    I don’t live in the city but I’m in Sydney at the moment, and except for family here, wishing I wasn’t. Rain is so much more appropriate, somehow, in the country! and to Ross – I’m 72 and grew up in Armidale – give my love to New England!
    Happy Christmas to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mrdjangozazou
    December 23, 2015

    The only thing that shrouds the hedgerows in England this year is a sort of brown pallor, Deb! The winds have harassed them to a hysterical frenzy and the rains have flooded over them, but the only snow we’ve had fell one night a couple of weeks ago and only seemed to visit Darlington! All the rime you’ll find this year comes sprayed on from a can!


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      December 24, 2015

      Liar, liar pants on fire, I just know you’re out there jingling your bells in the misty, frosty hedgerows of North Yorkshire. Have a very happy Christmas Django!


  4. nantubre
    December 23, 2015

    Blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones, Deb. Here in the southern United states the standard white Christmas eludes us – we have 80° F weather and soggy skies. But love, we have much love which we send to you and the rest of the world along with prayers for world peace. Oh my gosh, I’m getting mushy in my old age!


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      December 24, 2015

      Thank you Nan and let’s all keep sending that love out, it’s the only answer! Have a very happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous new year!


  5. Gaye Priestley
    December 24, 2015

    Hope you have a fun day tomorrow. Yes Berry has had some good rain in the last couple of days, but we always need more. Santa has been around the streets of Berry tonight on the fire truck giving out lollies…. My son and grandchildren are done at present…Adam and his partner have just bought a place in Berry. They will keep their place in .Birchgrove. Berry is a great place to live.
    One happy Nana,


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      December 27, 2015

      Hello Gaye lovely to hear from you and hope you had a very happy Christmas, so happy for you that your son and his partner have bought in Berry – still very much on our radar!


  6. Jane Elworthy
    December 29, 2015

    Hi Deb. The wind is up here in Broken Hill, and with each gust the land grows drier. We had a little rain, but it was the sudden downpour that you so rightly said just bounces off and runs away. But down by the wetland at the end of McCulloch St I can hear quacking, and see a flurry of ducks swimming through the reeds in this tiny oasis. Not a clean oasis to be sure, as this is run off from the paved streets, but nonetheless a little glimmer of beauty and faith.
    Thanks for writing about Broken Hill (where I live part time when not in Sydney, and have done for 11 years). It’s a special place, and becomes more special with each prayer from people like you and me.
    Now we just have to lobby the government to subsidise water tanks…
    Jane Elworthy


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      December 29, 2015

      Jane what a heartfelt and beautiful picture you paint of the city we both love, I hope our prayers, and those of so many other people, will be answered.


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This entry was posted on December 23, 2015 by and tagged , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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