Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

What happened to all the water?


Maggie enjoyed the freedom of being back in the bush.

We’ve been in Broken Hill less than a week, and already this town has surprised me. I thought I knew what to expect – after all, we used to live here. I should have known better.

Blue skies and temperatures in the mid to high twenties are nothing new for autumn in far west New South Wales, although the keen wind that kicked up the night we camped out made me glad we borrowed swags (thank you, David!)

With sand beneath your swag you can sleep as comfortably as if you were lying in bed, and the sand in Umberumberka Creek was as soft as down. The bonus – and this is worth any amount of wind – was watching a full moon track across the sky, slipping between the branches of ancient Coolabah trees.

A swag is like a thick canvas bag that contains your sleeping bag. Click here to see more pics.


The swags before we slipped the sleeping bags inside


Maggie kept watch overnight

Gathering with friends in a dry creek bed ranks as one of my all-time favourite experiences and it never disappoints, although having seen Claire Brunero’s shot of a camel wandering past our usual camping spot, taken a year ago, I was a tad disappointed not to wake up to any wildlife.

Image 4

Claire took this shot of a camel wandering past the creek bed

The 50-metre outdoor swimming pool was another treat, empty the day we swam because 23 degrees (Celsius, not Fahrenheit) is considered too cold for most Broken Hill residents – never mind that the water was heated to 26.5 degrees.

Image 2

The open air swimming pool before I jumped in

Which brings me onto the hottest topic in town. Water. The whole town is on Stage Three water restrictions, which means the hospital has installed its own desalination plant and gardens can only be watered by hand twice a week, for no more than two hours at a time.

Plants and trees are dying. Some people are trying gamely to keep their nature strips alive, watering what little remains of the grass verge, but it’s a losing battle; even weeds are struggling to survive.


Broken Hill at 2.30pm on Tuesday 29 April

Which made it all the more remarkable to wake and hear rain falling today, a drenching downpour that fell steadily for several hours. I took photos. We celebrated at lunch in the Silly Goat with friends Lynne and John Gall from Langawirra Station.


With Clyde and Lynne and John Gall outside The Silly Goat

Was this the end of the drought? I hopped online, eager to find stats that would show just how dry it has been out here, and guess what? There are no stats to be had.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Broken Hill hasn’t had a drought. I went back three years and the map shows no sign of drought across the Broken Hill region.

If that’s the case, what happened to all the water? Why such extreme restrictions? Or are the stats wrong?

I’ll try to answer that question in my next post. And I’ll be sure to check those stats.





9 comments on “What happened to all the water?

  1. Nandini Ray
    March 29, 2016

    Such beautiful photos Deb. Would have so liked to have been out there. Thanks for sharing this x


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      March 29, 2016

      Thanks Nandini. We kept saying how the group we knew has dwindled as people leave, mind you new people also keep arriving. It was a great chance to get to know Peter and Mia better too. Hope you’re doing well x


  2. Jane @ Shady Baker
    March 29, 2016

    Oh this whole water situation is very complex isn’t is Deb. Regardless of the water it looks like you had a wonderful time. No trip to the Hill would be complete without at least one visit to the Goat would it? How lucky are we to have such good coffee and such a beautiful pool? x


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      March 29, 2016

      Hello Jane, lovely to hear from you. I’ve heard so many conflicting stories about the water, whatever the reason they need to find a long-term solution, especially if we want to keep enjoying the coffee at Silly Goat! Hope you’ve had some rain out your way x


  3. Eliza Waters
    March 30, 2016

    Good thing it didn’t rain while you were camping!


  4. Trish Webber
    March 30, 2016

    They drained Menindee lakes! That is one of the problems. How awful to see the gardens and verges so dead. Am enjoying hearing about your trip.


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      March 30, 2016

      Isn’t it shocking what happened to the lakes? I’m talking to lots of people to try and find out more


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This entry was posted on March 29, 2016 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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