The School Strike movement – SS4C – is a remarkable phenomenon, having grown from one lone teenager’s action 15 months ago to a global action which brought millions onto the streets and parks of major cities and small towns alike on Friday 20th September. Media coverage has been good enough that I don’t feel I need to say more about that here.
We attended the Townsville rally, at Strand Park. I haven’t seen official figures but my estimate was around 500 people, which is encouraging for a community of 200 000 even though it can’t compare with the thousands in Melbourne and Sydney.
On the way home from the trip which took me to the Dalrymple Track and elsewhere I stopped off at Jourama Falls. I didn’t walk up to the falls themselves because I saw from the creek – still flowing, but only just over the camping ground causeways – that the effort would not be well rewarded.
This photo, however, confirms just how dry the country is now.
Townsville is the same, but we know Townsville is in the Dry Tropics; Jourama is not far from Townsville, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that it’s dry; but both are drier than usual, and Cardwell, definitely in the Wet Tropics, was nearly as bad.
Four years ago I walked the inland end of the Dalrymple Track (see Wikipedia for its history) with Wildlife Queensland folk, then took a quick look at the coastal end by myself. As I said in a blog post at the time, I always hoped to complete the rest of the walk eventually, and last week I almost made good on that plan, walking from the coastal end to its highest point a couple of hundred metres past the old Stone Bridge.
Winter is traditionally followed by Spring but not here, and not in the era of climate change. Last week was Winter; this week is the Fire Season.
Perhaps that is a little melodramatic, but it’s justified by the conditions we have experienced recently. The fire season is already well under way, as it usually is by this time of year, and we have had several very smoky days in town but today was exceptional. Late this morning I could hardly see Mount Stuart from the Rising Sun intersection on Charters Towers Rd, so I visited Castle Hill with my camera to see what I could see from there. It wasn’t pretty.
A look at recent weather observations on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website has corrected my gut feeling that Townsville had another very dry winter. The total for June-July-August was 30 mm so, paltry though it might seem, it was significantly more than the 18 mm median (see averages here). Here is what we’ve had, according to the BoM.
The main reason I was wrong was that less than 1 mm of the total has fallen since the middle of July. Six weeks of clear skies, increasingly hot days (topping out recently in the low 30s) and no rain has left the city looking desiccated, even though people are still rebuilding their homes and lives after the February floods.
What can we look forward to, then? September is typically our driest month, and October isn’t much better, so no immediate relief is in sight. We might get some useful rain in November but we might also have to wait until Christmas.