Story telling from Australia
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.