Dust storms, intense heat, thunderstorms and gentle rain have all visited Naree over the last few weeks. Once again the wheels are turning in this land’s cycles of growth and decline.
We're watching country metamorphose before our eyes with a flush of new growth.
Our beautiful yapunya trees have shed their old bark and stand glowing red on the floodplains. The lignum in our swamps is already starting to produce tiny delicate flowers, and the groundcover in our woodlands is turning into an emerald carpet.
Seeds held carefully in the red dust and dry clay beds since the last rains are now germinating in untold numbers – whispering a promise of a good year ahead – but only if there is more rain. Without it, they will try to reproduce as quickly as possible, before collapsing back into the dust to wait for their next game of chance with our erratic climate.
Insects, frogs and many other creatures are following the same strategy – with a cacophony of calls from the small swamp near the house assaulting our ears each night.
And something else is happening – much bigger than Naree. It’s the key to the wetland cycles in this part of the world.
Up in Queensland, at the very top of the Warrego catchment in the Carnarvon Ranges, over 500km away, rain fell back in November and December last year. Creeping water has been slowly filling dry creek beds and creeping towards us for several weeks, past Charleville and Cunnamulla, into NSW, heading for the Darling River near Bourke.
The small and silent flow reached us a couple of weeks ago, along the Cuttaburra Creek, filling our parched stream bed and waterholes over several days.
Water is trickling quietly and carefully into all the cracking clays, the dry gilgais, into the intricate networks of braided channels that feed the massive Yantabulla Swamp on Naree’s western doorstep – which has stood dry and thirsty for 3 years. It’s as if the whole landscape is taking a deep breath, like a creature breathing fresh air right down into the bottom of its lungs.
We watch the river heights online at Naree and can see that the peak in the Warrego has gone now. Not much more water coming down still to feed 'The Basin' as Yantabulla Swamp is called by local people. Not enough to turn it into a pulsing wetland yet.
Just enough to entice us with dreams of what might be.
Just enough to send our neighbour up in his Cessna to keep an eye on things.
Just enough to bring a few pelicans to our waterhole. Perhaps they're checking things out too.
If there is flooding rain yet to come this summer from up there in Queensland, here at Naree and beyond our country has been primed and is ready. It’s definitely a waiting game. A game of chance, totally reliant on the right combination of floods and local rainfall. A once in five or ten year event.
And for those who ask, like us, 'How much more water do we need to make those wetlands explode into spectacular life?', we can see from the records that the current event is small in the grand scheme of things, a blip on the nearest river gauge readings at Turra on the Qld/NSW border.
We're watching and waiting with interest to see what the year will bring us!