Wetlands, Lighthouse and Dust Storms

Dougal and Benji at Wetlands

Dougal came for a stay last Thursday.  Being flat out for much of last week we didn’t get out much but I did manage to get  them both to the Wetlands for a walk. Still no rain to speak of so there is no change in the water levels. It might not seem like that from the photograph, but then looks can be deceiving , however, the main pond still has water in it. Still it was a good time together and if he is still here, I  will take them both for a drive  out to the Lighthouse at the weekend.  At the end of this month we may be looking after a new dog for two weeks. One of the ladies at the church asked me if I would be willing to look after her dog for two weeks . Annabell was there at the time  and she said we would love to. I totally agree since the lady in question is one of the coffee ladies group and she has a Pug called Max – that should be fun.

During this week we experienced one of the  consequences of the drought.  The weather up until last Thursday was  fair – bit warm but fair- Friday was a different thing

This was at Port Wakefield , I believe.

altogether. Friday we had high winds – as high as 95 klms per hour in places. The traffic ground to a halt in Port Wakefield area as visibility was  zero, due to thick dust storms. We had high winds here and some experiences of the dust storms but nothing like the other areas of the  peninsula. Port Lincoln faced winds of over 100 kms. per hour and it was so bad that the power company shut off the power to Port Lincoln and the surrounding area – some 15,000 people without power. The reason was to protect Port Lincoln.  The power company was concerned that the high winds would bring down trees and branches onto power lines sparking a fire, which, in the high wind conditions, could take hold and spread very quickly. Adelaide also took a bit of a

Wont look at the Camera.

battering. As I said, we were not too bad – things happen above us or below us,

In the far north of the State, things are different  and the desert is blooming again. The flood waters from Queensland have made their way down and are currently pouring into Lake Eyre – normally  dry. As the waters have made their way down from Queensland and filled the dry river beds, the desert is now watered , everything along the way is blooming and there is an abundance of wildlife, swans, ducks, wild geese and pelicans. The  water will create islands in the lake where the birds can breed and raise chicks without foxes and dingos being able to get to them. Lake Eyre is 9,500 square klms however the Lake Eyre Basin and catchment area is 1.14 million square klms. It’s a big, big basin and lake Eyre itself is some 15 meters – about 50 feet – below sea level.  Last time it flooded my  son, John,  took the  flight up there and flew over Lake Eyre and the surrounding area. I did see the photographs and it was quite a spectacular sight to see the water flooding into the lake.

I took the dogs to the lighthouse and we had a good wander around the place and a good long walk  around the point. The weather was nice – bit on the warm side (34c) but quite nice. Benji did his usual and refused to look at the camera.  The drive to and from the lighthouse is 76 klms. or 46.25 miles, so it’s not something I do  too often but there’s no where else we can go – everything else around us is either a conservation area, or a  reserve area and  the whole of the Flinders Ranges are National Parks.

One of the things I enjoy doing is taking photographs. I agree I’m not all that good at it but I like doing it. I did go to a photography club some years ago , but  wasn’t too impressed with it. I am thinking I might give it another go. It seems to have a  different attitude to it these days so perhaps I might not find it quite as I did last time. One can but try. But then I have also changed since then and and I do believe I have quite mastered the Box Brownie now.

Lighthouse, Wetlands and Spencer Gulf

Benji at the lighthouse.

Friday 22nd. Just after lunch I  put a blanket over the front seat in the car, strapped Benji in and off we went to the Lighthouse. It was a lovely day, warm but not hot, so it was a comfortable ride for the 24 miles. Of course, with the air conditioner on it would have been a comfortable ride anyway, but he did what he usually does, curl up facing me and  have a nap. We spent some time wandering about and it was good for us to be out and about again after all the hot weather we have had recently.

We came back home by way of the town center and I  went into the lolly shop and bought 250gms of sugared almonds, because I knew she had them in for the first time in a long time. I know, but it’s my indulgence and they remind me of my childhood in Scotland – every lovely crunch of them. In the evening, after the news, I took Benji down to the wetlands. It’s been a while since we were there. To say I was shocked is an understatement. The amount of water loss is incredible. With the continued drought and the fact that there is no

The loss of water at the wetlands

water going into the system, this, plus the water going out to water the trees, lawns and plants has really taken its toll. Having said that, it did rain for a bit last night and although it rained for several hours, it was fairly light rain and didn’t make a lot of difference to anything.

Today both Annabell and I are  exhausted.  The family at the back of us were having an 18th Birthday Party. The father came around and told his neighbours  what was going to happen and said he would try and keep the music to a reasonable level. Well, that was a lie right there! He did  indicate that they were going to play music, but they didn’t. I don’t know what the heck it was they played but music it was not – it was just a thump, thump, thump. My son follows Iron Maiden, and some other sort of heavy metal and though I  don’t like to admit it, it is music – of a sort – but this last night, until 2am was just a continual thump, thump, thump. I almost took a serious dislike when the alarm went off at 6am. I did not have

The Spencer Gulf at the Lighthouse.

a good night, but Benji and I went out for our walk in the calm,  early, cloud covered morning. Today was the Congregation Annual General Meeting, so  church was well over two hours long. I think Annabell is resting – good for her. We go back to the doctor this week and we expect he will increase the  amount of her insulin again. At the moment she is not too bad, but  the readings are still higher than he would like.  ( He did increase the  level to 17ml.)

The drought continues to bite in the north of South Australia and over in Victoria. There has also been high and strong winds that have  turned the bare paddocks into dust bowls and animals are starting to perish for lack of food and water and the dust that gets everywhere – into the animal eyes and mouth. There’s not a lot of help being handed out. Must have looked away for a moment and when I looked back, March is just about finished and we are rushing towards April. Today – Thursday 28th –  Dougal is coming to stay for a little while. I have no idea how long this time as Ina is still in a Respite Center outside of Adelaide.

Under our system, you can qualify for traveling assistance if you have to travel for treatment.  The hospital at the Port does not have Nuclear Medicine facilities – our hospital does. So  this lady had to travel from Port Augusta to Whyalla for treatment –  a distance of 80 klms. ( 160kms round trip) She does not quality for assistance because the cut off point is 100 klms.  This lady is traveling 160 klms twice a week for treatment but does not  receive assistance. This was highlighted with the  Minister for Health and he  agrees that many of the  rules were made to  apply to Adelaide not the country areas. He has promised to have a look and overhaul where necessary.

More wind – still annoying

Native Bush from the Arid Lands B.G.

Not counting today, only four days left until Spring is here. Not going to miss winter one little bit.  The days have been mild but the mornings and evenings have been very cold. This morning it was foggy and very cold – so cold that I really entertained thoughts of giving up the morning walk, turning round and heading for home and a heater. I didn’t!! However, as soon as I got in I went directly to my room and turned my heater on full. Benji has had his breakfast and is curled up in his bed. However, we can’t really complain too much since the weather this last week has been  mild and it has been  enjoyable walking around the Wetlands  with Benji during the day. It has also allowed my to get back out in the garden and start the process of cleaning up the 40 billion leaves.  Ok so I exaggerate  – there’s only 20 Billion. I also have an area out front that I have tried to grow things in without success. I had a think about this and finally decided this last week to dig it all out and remove all the soil and replace it with new material ( 3 x 70 ltrs of material) and finally, on Saturday, I bought new plants from the Garden Centre and planted them – we’ll see what happens. Oh and I also put down fertilizer. My stick was just that – a stick, so that’s gone.  With the lack of rain the Kangaroos have been wandering well into the  area looking for water and food. In another area, close to bushland, they have Emus wandering around. I see the Roos in the new area beyond me, but I haven’t seen any down near me—-yet.

The fact that we have a shortage of water is illustrated in the level of water at the Wetlands. There is still a fair volume of water in the pools but the drop in water

The new Kiosk at the Wetlands.

level is fairly obvious. The black Swans returned – briefly – but I hope that this is a sign of things to come and the swans and  big ducks will return.  The Kiosk is just about completed  and I believe it’s due to open sometime next week.  If the day is very warm to hot – and it will be in summer – I really think that if the opening hours are good,  the kiosk will do well. I do a full lap and a half when I am there, but if, after a full lap, I could have a drink and  relax, I could end up doing two full laps. A full lap is 3.5 Klms – so Benji and I, when we go to the Wetlands, do 5.35 klms. The front – across the bridge from the car park, is the barbecue areas, the exercise area, the flying fox, the grassed area for family play, and the children’s play area. There is also a barbecue area  just down from the carpark and just beyond that is where the kiosk is situated.

The Wawa (Kongsoon) back with her mun again.

All winter I have escaped colds and flu. There are two days of winter left and I have come down with a very heavy cold.  Seen out winter the cold, fog and wind and now this.  What happened to all this Vitamin C and all those Oranges and Mandarins that I have consumed by the bucket load?? I sort of feel cheated.  To add insult to injury the high winds have returned. So much for my leaves cleaning.       Don’t really know, some blame climate change whereas others ( and a growing number) blame stuffing around  with clock changes and daylight saving. We have always had strange weather up here but I really do not remember the continual and sustained wind that we are having presently causing concern to both country and city. Today (Wednesday) it’s warm, it’s overcast,  the temperature is 26c ,  yet we have high winds 42 – 65 km/h – battering the place again. It is now after 9pm and the wind is still going and no sign of letting up. Reports of dust storms across the mid north and pollen  is being blown arond as a result of the mild conditions.  And still not much rain. The little rain we did have was, according to the farmers, too little, too late.

I had been thinking of the WaWa recently and surprisingly, I actually miss her. In the last three or four months she became my friend and wanted to be lifted up to sit with me on the chair, with Benji. Then she left, but these last months made up for everything.

PS All night. The wind died at 10:30 Thursday – for a whole two hours before starting up again.

 

 

And they call the wind — Annoying.

Thursday and the  heavy  winds came and with the winds came  a health warning that the heavy winds – gusting at around 60kph, – coupled with the dry conditions, are likely to create dust storms. The Health Dept. issued a warning that people with asthma or breathing difficulties are strongly advised to stay inside until the wind storms have passed. The Chief Medical Officer

Dust Storm on the Eyre Peninsula – 250 klms long.
*photograph: Tim Phillips*

was featured on the news explaining the problems of dust storms for people with any breathing concerns. The high winds continued throughout the day and in some parts of the State, gusting at 100+kph. The wind continued  into the night and was followed by  heavy rain.  The dust storms were pretty heavy and covered an area of 250 klms. We did get some but nowhere near as much as the lower peninsula.   It is now am Friday and I have been awake for much of the night. The rain stopped at 4:15 then started again  at 04:50. I am not certain but I think this just might have broken the drought  at least in South Australia.  The worst of the drought was inter-state in New South Wales, so I hope that the rain bands are moving in that direction.  As far as I am aware, more rain is on the way. The seriousness of the drought has caused a backlash against the government – particularly the Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop. Our farmers are struggling, there is no feed for stock, sheep and cattle are dying in the thousands and Julie Bishop announces – with a smile – that the Federal Government have donated $68 Million to assist farmers in Vietnam and another $20 million to Indonesian farmers but it

seems there is not enough in the Federal Purse to assist drought stricken Australian farmers. It’s a worry…

It is now 05:55 and the rain has stopped. I hope that’s it for the morning and I can get out with Benji. We didn’t get out last night – not

Benji at the Port.

even for a short walk. Well,  we did get out for our walk at 07:20. The rain had gone and the heavy wind had gone. Still a bit of a breeze – and cold with it – but the major wind had died away. A temporary respite before it started again.

Finally staggered into bed at 23:30 and went out like a light. I didn’t set the alarm so it was 06:45 before I said good morning to the world.  I pottered about much of the morning trying to tidy up before the forecast wind started again. I took  Benji for a walk around the Wetlands. It was quiet and I was fortunate to have a chat with the manager of the new Kiosk. She said that it’s progressing but slower than she would like, but she should, all being well, open in September. Just a mere three weeks away.      The wind has started up again so I’ve given up trying to clear up leaves that just keep  being blown about. Ah, only 24 days until Spring.

Benji & Yogi out together

Yogi came this afternoon (Saturday) and will be here at least until next  Friday. If not Annabell will have one night of looking after both as I head off to the quarterly conference. Fortunately this one is in North Adelaide, so I will only be gone overnight, plus driving down and back. I have been asked to go out to the RFDS Main base at Adelaide Airport to collect some merchandise  that needs to come up here. I was going to Adelaide, so I’ll end up out there. Oh well, didn’t want to go shopping anyway. Despite what we thought the rain was not nearly enough to break the drought, and there is talk that the Goyder Line could be moving more to the south, which will have the effect of a good chunk of the state being dropped back to the “Marginal Lands”designation, which is a worry. Adelaide is being rained on and subject to strong winds. There is even talk about flooding. So very different from up here.  I think that is part of the problem. It rains a fair bit in Adelaide so they really have no idea what’s like to have no rain up in the farming areas.  Many Adelaide people  have no idea what happens in the 85% of South Australia beyond Adelaide, which in usually the norm for country sv.  city. With us it’s a bit more extreme  since we have a state bigger than Texas and only really one city.