Monday, January 29, 2007

Monster Floods Bring Smiles To Drought-Devastated Country Towns

Priorities Sorted - "We Won't Run Out Of Beer"

Australian farmers and the residents of dozens of outback towns across three states, have been praying for some decent rain for years. The drought has been the worst in recorded history.

In some towns, those prayers for rain have gone unanswered for five long years.

But in the last week, dozens of outback towns had their dreams come true.

They got their rains. But they got a few years worth in only a couple of days.

That's when the floods begin...

From :

While most of the country is in drought, floodwaters now cover large parts of northern and central Australia after heavy rainfall in the past week.

It is expected the floodwaters will reach Lake Eyre for the first time in years.

The rains have brought relief to struggling cattle stations and outback communities, though they now face weeks of isolation.

Bedourie, in south-west Queensland, promotes itself as a gateway to the Simpson Desert but it is difficult to spot the sand hills for the water at the moment.

It started with a downpour last weekend and since then, 250 millimetres of rain has fallen.

The downpour has broken all records and left part of the town flooded.

But no-one is complaining. Residents, like former station hand Jodie Girdler, are rejoicing in the boost the flood will give to the region's cattle.

"Cruise around town - you look at all the water around and you think, 'They're going to be putting out some good cattle soon and bringing some good money into the country,'" she said.

To the south, Birdsville has also been left isolated, as the Diamantina River spreads its banks across the Queensland-South Australian border.

Birdsville Hotel publican Kim Fort says his famous pub has seldom been quieter but he is taking no chances.

"We've got enough supplies at the moment and if it's here for four weeks, we'll boat some across," he said.

"We won't run out of beer."

As Birdsville is reconnected to the world, waterholes are expected to be topped up all the way to Lake Eyre, brimming with native fish and attracting huge flocks of birds.

The cities may be running out of water, but for now, a string of outback towns that were as dry as the desert sand have their water supplies taken care of.