The Kimberley region of Australia is about as far from Melbourne as you can get. It is diagonally across the continent and is a vast and remote area of the outback. Life there is tough . Tides in the town of Derby average about 11 metres (36 feet). The water temperature of the public swimming pool in Kununurra has been recorded at 40C (104F) in mid summer. Local cattle stations are vast – up to 2100 square kilometres and carry over 6000 head of cattle. Crocodiles live in the local rivers and their tributaries.
Fifteen years ago, I and a group of fiends, travelled through this area in a self-drive bus travelling from Darwin to Broome. It was wonderful trip. You can review my series of posts abut that trip beginning here.
This area is now n the news. Just after Christmas, the remains of a cyclone dumped heaps of water over the area of the remote town of Fitzroy Crossing. The Fitzroy River, on which it sits, flows for 733 kilometres from the King Leopold and Mueller Ranges into King Sound south of Derby, and has a catchment area of 93,000 square kilometres. Much of this area is as flat as a pancake, or a witches breast. This rain caused the river to be in full flood. It spread all the way across its 15 km-wide flood plain with a flow that was estimated at 23,000 cubic metres per second. In just six hours that volume of water could fill Sydney Harbour.
As a result, most of the roads are now impassible and the bridge over the river was destroyed. This problem with the bridge is causing severe issues in supplying remote towns in the area with food and other essential items. Normally, these goods are carried north by road train from Perth – a journey of up to three days. Now alternative routes need to be found. I read that some barges have been taking trucks to Broome (further south) but to get to Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing in the far north, trucks now have to go the other way.
The only other way means a return trip of 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles). I found a map of Australia’s size compared to that of the USA. It’s like driving from Sacramento to Dallas, then north into Canada and back to Billings in Montana. I can’t image what that trip with diesel fuel at around. $2 per litre is doing to the price of a packet of corn flakes! With a skilled labour shortage following Covid, it may take a few years before the bridge can be rebuilt.
In the meantime, we have our normal Sumer issues in Australia. There are out of control bush fires near Adelaide and Mildura. There have been a higher number of drownings than normal as warmer weather has encouraged people to go to the beach and to rivers.
Here in Melbourne, we grizzled about the cool and damp weather that we have had for the last few hers. Now that La Niña over the Pacific Ocean is dissipating, our weather is becoming warmer. Today it reached 37C (about 100F). It was day to sit by the air conditioner. We are already now grizzling about the heat!
Yesterday was a very pleasant day in the mid 20s and we took the opportunity to spend an afternoon in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. They are a delightful place at any time, but on a comfortable day it was a very pleasant place in which to spend a couple of hours. We watched people punting on the lake as I drank a beer and Jill enjoyed a coffee. This outing also gave Jill another opportunity to gain more confidence on her disability scooter as she rode along the pathways in the gardens.
It’s evening now and time to water some of the plants that have been affected by today’s heat.