Thursday 17 June 2010


Report in the paper this morning about a plague of locusts about to strike NSW, Victoria and South Australia, after the rains they've had. Queensland has already had its turn (though that won't be the end of it) after long, soaking rains left the Outback green and lush.
When we went to Longreach, the palms planted around town and in people's gardens looked like chimney brushes, with just the stalks left of the fronds, all the green eaten away. Our hire car had plastic mesh fixed over the radiator grille to prevent a build-up of smashed insects leading to over-heating - and though the locusts had mostly moved on, there were still quite a few around, as well as clouds of butterflies and dragonflies everywhere we went.
Australia's climate and environment are really not for softies: just when the 8-year drought breaks and you think good times might lie ahead for a change, it slaps you in the face with something like a locust plague, that will strip a field of every scrap of greenery within hours. And that's aside from economic quandaries like the one faced by the people on Carisbrooke Station, who had to sell nearly all their cattle because they had no feed, and now have an abundance of grazing that they can't even rent out because everybody's in the same boat - and stock is now selling at premium prices. You'd think it would be heart-breaking, but I suppose you don't go into farming unless you can take the rough with the smooth, and the two Charlies, old and young, were both pretty philosophical.

I'm heading off back into the Outback, Northern Territory version, on Saturday for another dose of low horizons, huge skies and everlasting stars. It's going to be very cold at night, but the days should be lovely, with tramping, camping and, fingers crossed, a hot air balloon. Looking forward to it. Wifi will not be readily available, however.
UPDATE: It was the Box of Death for poor little Titch this morning, for whom 10 days of medication weren't able to defeat the nasty growth in her throat that was impeding both her breathing and eating. She was a feisty wee thing, and I was very fond of her, and so sorry to have to bring her life to an end.


the queen said...

So, how many alive chickens do you have?

TravelSkite said...

Well, five last time I looked, but who knows how many might have carked since then. All this trauma of guilt and sadness, and not even any eggs, dammit.


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