The wet season arrived well and truly this past week. We’ve had three straight days of rain that has virtually cut Townsville off from everywhere else. Not that anyone (that I spoke to) cared. Ross River Dam (that which supplies our city) has gone from virtually dry to over 20% full – so we can stop stealing water from the Burdekin Dam. Many streets have been flooded and now bear that legacy, with potholes often 1 metre wide and almost 1 metre deep (no joke – I wish I had taken a photo at the time). My house (the only low-set house on the street and a short distance from a tidal inlet) is, so far, safe from flooding.
This picture is Ross River at Aplin’s Weir, downstream of Ross River Dam. The water was much higher the day before I took this. It’s not that impressive now, but before all the rain, the water was about a metre below the top of the weir. Swarms of people had come to check it out and hear the roar of the water. And, of course, see what they could catch. Barra(mundi) season officially begins on Wednesday, but these guys in the foreground were trying for whatever they could catch. They’d mostly haul in water hyacinth, which is an introduced pest that usually chokes the rivers, then gets broken up and sent downstream during high flows. But one guy did catch a barra for a while before it got away (but there were about ten people that could vouch for it’s size, so he couldn’t exaggerate later). The rain has stopped now, and temperatures (and humidity) are climbing again (joy!!).
The Purple Giraffe
Val asked me about the origins of my blog name. It’s not really an exciting story. About six years ago I was trying to establish an eBay account and every login name that I thought of was taken (what is with that???). Purple and giraffe are two of the words I ended up using in a very long name just so I could bid on (and win) useless crap that I have since never used. Purple is my favourite colour. Any shade of purple (though burgundy is stretching it, a bit). My love of purple is closely followed by a love of teal green – though having a teal with black velvet polka dots, satin, frilly formal dress (with a HUGE bow at the back) when I was in year 10 is not a memory I look back on too fondly. Hey, it was the 80s!!! Anyway, so there is the purple. Giraffe – well, there was a picture of giraffe on the wall when I was looking around trying to find eBay inspiration. But I do like giraffes. I wouldn’t call myself the purple cane toad or anything, because cane toads – well, really, what good do they do anyone (save for being something that can be dissected in biology class with a clear conscience – it’s another pest)? I was in Africa for several months in 1999 and my mission on many a safari was to see “The Big Five” – elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino and cheetah/leopard. I’m not sure why you could see either a cheetah or a leopard instead of both of them – I guess that would make it the big six. I saw the first five pretty early on, so spent the rest of the trip searching for the leopard. I never saw it. I came close several times – one time a leopard sat on a fresh kill – a young elephant – for an entire day, just guarding it, though I saw the kill the next day when it was covered by vultures and the leopard was long gone. Another time I was camping and heard a baboon screeching one morning. Later that day I stumbled across it’s hands and feet – a leopard had killed it (hence the screeching) and then seen people approaching, so ran off with it’s breakfast. I’m digressing. My point is, that while I was constantly searching for leopards and other big, scary African killers, each time I saw a giraffe it would bring a sense of calm over me. They were so quiet and didn’t care that I was ten metres away, snapping hundreds of shots of them. Even when they run, they’re so huge they just look like they’re taking a peaceful stroll. They’re an animal that always seem content just to have a couple of mates nearby and a ready supply of leaves. And they do look hilarious when they’re taking a drink. Despite my (unfulfilled) desire to see a leopard, the giraffes and the warthogs were my favourite African animals.