There haven’t been many light moments throughout the Queensland floods, however the case of the ‘floating loo’ did raise a few chuckles. In a previous life, this was a portable toilet block from a service station in Maryborough. The flooded Mary River decided it needed some sea air and kindly transported it into Hervey Bay, where it was spotted (and photographed) by local jet ski operators, Aquavue Watersports making its way to Fraser Island for a bit of R & R. The Fraser Chronicle reported that the the toilet was still usable, but the paper wet!
Natural disasters have a way of reminding people what the important things in life are. When panic buying set in, it wasn’t Camembert cheese, pate or fine red wine that went, but the basics – milk, bread, batteries (no electricity remember) and toilet paper. Suddenly I could see the benefit of having a husband who liked to ‘stock up’ on grocery items. We have copious cans of fish, enough coffee to last 6 months and as for toilet paper…there are so many rolls sitting silently, waiting their call of duty in our bathrooms, I momentarily had visions of setting up a toilet roll stall at the top of our driveway and selling them for a hugely inflated price. But it was only a temporary moment of madness. Toilet wrap monopoly doesn’t have much glamour. Apparently some shop keepers came up with the same idea and there are stories circulating of rolls being sold for princely sums!!! In the Badlands (read marooned western suburbs of Brisbane) toilet paper may even become the new currency.
Before you start reading, be warned, this blog is a media whinge. I rarely watch the news (and if I do it’s SBS or the ABC ) and avoid current affairs shows. Waaaay too much human interest (that’s media talk for human misery) for my liking. When I began to tune into the flood coverage, I was more than a little dismayed at the quality of reporting. The authorities are going out of their way to quell wholesale panic, yet the media (including the ABC and SBS, alas) seem hell bent on whipping the whole flood situation into a frenzy. Yes, the floods have been heartbreaking, devastating, frightening, but could there be a little more focus on the facts and less on human misery? Two survivors of the horrific flash flood in Grantham were asked how they felt! They have just witnessed death and destruction on a mammoth scale, how does he think they’ll feel? Duh. Have universities added a new course in journalism degrees? Something along the lines of ‘How to lose your empathy’ or perhaps ‘Develop your most inane and insensitive questions’. Distraught relatives, displaced communities,drowned cattle, houses and businesses ruined – all very real images of the floods, but why must they be shown over and over and over? The 9/11 twin towers destruction was the same. After a while it seems almost surreal. When does genuine shock and concern morph into voyeurism? I’ve stopped watching. These people have been through enough heartache. We can at least respect their right to grieve in private, without a microphone thrust into their faces.
I am keen to start writing about my writing, as it were, but am compelled to continue with the weather topic. Queensland is, after all, experiencing some of the worst flooding in decades and many areas have already been declared disaster zones. The Mary River has been slowly rising over the last week, giving people time to clear out their businesses and homes, so there was none of the urgency experienced by other areas of Queensland. Gympie tends to have more polite, well mannered floods, if there is such a thing.
This will be the fifth night Southside has been cut off from Gympie, and the rest of the world. Even if we could get across the river, the highway is blocked. Life this side of the bridge has taken on a ‘time stands still’ feel. Apart from a dwindling supply of milk and bread and mould covering everything that isn’t moving (the fridge, walls, leather shoes, dogs), things are ok over this side of the river. We, like many other Southside residents, have been down to check out the rising river. Apart from that, time has been spent eating (though carefully, knowing there are limited supplies at the local shops) reading and checking the flood heights on the internet.
Today we even lost the internet, so things got simpler. Who’d have thought we could get such enjoyment from playing ‘What scat is that?’ True, it started out mundanely (having two dogs living in the back yard makes the game fairly predictable), but on closer inspection we found all manner of animal poop; gecko, possum, rat, frog, lizard. Definitive identification was hard to get, on account of our inability to google, but on a positive note, at least no one was disappointed when they were proved wrong.
Clever, insightful words of wisdom for the second blog of my life ? No, I am reduced to writing about the weather. And yes, through the vastness of cyber space, I can hear your sigh. But please let me explain. Even though I live on the edge of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, famous for sun, sand and surf, my antisocial bias leads me towards grey and bleak and overcast. Sunshine? Overrated and look what it does to the curtains. Blue sky? Hurts the eyes and blunts the emotions. No, a decent spell of rainy weather is always welcome at my house…until now. Even a sunshine grinch like me has had enough. It has been raining forever. I am a Queenslander born and bred, yet this is more rain than I can ever remember. As I write this, much of the state is either recovering from, or in the middle of floods and Gympie is now preparing for it’s time underwater. We live on a hill, so there is no chance of flooding, but the results of the weather are obvious. The floors are sticky with moisture, mould covers the fridge, the towels are permanently damp, as are the dogs, who have severe kennel fever. Much as I love my dogs, the stink of wet fur is not pleasant to the human nose. We have bought in the essentials – chocolate (me), wine (husband), beer (son), dog food (my furry, but fetid four legged friends). The bridge to the rest of the world will be covered in floodwater tonight. This should be perfect writing weather, but instead of creativity, I find myself obsessing over the mundane; rainfall totals, wind direction, river heights.