Editorial: Our land of droughts and flooding rains

Burned and now submerged, the stocking of this eucalyptus tree north of Batemans Bay is worn for extreme sports. The water gums on the other side of the creek were sheltered from the December fire front and will thrive in a wet February. This picture was taken as the Cockwhy Creek flooded on February 10.
Burned and now submerged, the stocking of this eucalyptus tree north of Batemans Bay is worn for extreme sports. The water gums on the other side of the creek were sheltered from the December fire front and will thrive in a wet February. This picture was taken as the Cockwhy Creek flooded on February 10.

It's one of Australia's most well known poems, by beloved writer Dorothea Mackellar, and the words to My Country have rung so very true this week.

While My Country is terribly romantic in how it portrays the Australian landscape, she has hit the nail on the head when she describes our "droughts and flooding rains".

This summer - indeed the spring that preceded it as well - has been a rollercoaster of natural disaster. We've had bushfires burning non-stop for more than 70 days and devastating great swathes of this sunburnt country, claiming lives and livelihoods, homes and youthful exuberance.

Social media has contained little else but bushfires for weeks, as everyone shares emergency advice, updates on personal threat or safety, and more than a little 'fake news' that spread faster than the wildfires.

Roads have been shut, schools closed and emergency alerts pinging our phones for days on end. Now it's happening again, but for rainstorms and flooding - "beauty and terror" indeed.

We've had the scorching heat from the sun, skies turning blood-red, towering flames and columns of smoke, thunder and lightning...a coronavirus plague. Does anyone hear the buzzing of locusts?

But, as in all times of adversity, good shines through. During these disasters we've witnessed the actions of so many incredible people who love and fight for their communities.

There is incredible strength and resilience in this "wide brown land" that we all should hold close to our hearts.

And for those who wish to read beyond the second stanza of My Country, the one we all know so well, here are stanzas four and five:

Core of my heart, my country!

Her pitiless blue sky,

When sick at heart, around us,

We see the cattle die -

But then the grey clouds gather,

And we can bless again

The drumming of an army,

The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!

Land of the Rainbow Gold,

For flood and fire and famine,

She pays us back threefold -

Over the thirsty paddocks,

Watch, after many days,

The filmy veil of greenness

That thickens as we gaze.

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