My very first impression of Townsville’s landscape, thirty years ago, was of dead-flat land interrupted by peculiarly isolated hills and ranges, and it has only been reinforced over the years by views and events.
The views? Getting to know the topography from the top of Castle Hill, Mt Stuart or (most recently) Mt Marlow on the Town Common reveals a coastal landscape of mangrove flats rising (minimally) to the suburbs which wrap around the bases of the hills, with Ross River, Ross Creek and the Bohle River winding lazily through them.
A visit to Kelso on Saturday gave me a chance to see Ross Dam, nearly full again after dropping steadily from this time last year until the last week of January. The sign said it was at 85% but the number doesn’t have the same emotional impact as the view from the dam wall.
It’s raining as I write, and the BOM is forecasting more rain in coming days – up to and including a possible cyclone – so it’s quite likely the dam will fill before the Wet season ends in about a month.
What we’ve had so far this year, according to the BoM, is about 600 mm since the last week of January.
What we would like, of course, is just enough rain, nicely spread out through the month. What we will get is, as always, unpredictable.
The last few days have brought us some genuine early-Wet weather: heat, humidity and thunderstorms. We have recorded our first double-digit rainfall totals in months, so it feels like a good time to see what really happened last year.
The BoM released its Annual Climate Statement for 2019 a fortnight ago. It named last year as Australia’s warmest and driest on record but there were notable local exceptions: Townsville (1761 mm) and the middle of Western Queensland scored their wettest year on record. (So did the tip of Cape York, one spot on the WA coast and one spot on the Tasmanian coast, which reinforces the feeling that our weather is getting ever crazier but is not otherwise relevant here.)
The Dry Season continues, and the birds are more and more grateful for our bird baths and lawn sprinklers – well, they seem to be, but who knows what’s going on in their little minds? All we can say for sure is that they come to fly through the spray or sit where the water is falling.