Sarah and I were expecting my family and their little fox terrier Suzy for Christmas on the afternoon of the 25th. Unfortunately, it rained consistently the week before their arrival and it really did look like getting in would be difficult.
I had spoken with mum on the 23rd after driving across several causeways in our 4WD ute and had concluded that it would be possible to get across in her little Citroen C3. She asked that I call the morning of their departure for an update. Well I did, only to discover they were already 4 hrs from home having left earlier than expected.
The night before it had rained heavily and I reasoned it might be too dangerous to come up. Even if they managed to make it in, if the rain continued, leaving may present a bigger problem. What to do? Well, as they were already on their way, car packed with supplies for four plus days, mum decided to have an adventure and risk it. Onya mum!
The plan was to meet at the start of the muddy and heavily pot-holed gravel road. I would then escort them the 10k distance to our driveway, crossing a number of flooded causeways along the way. Well the first wasn’t too bad, but the second and third required towing the C3 across with the ute. Our driveway was still intact at that time so making it up to the house was no problem. Hooray, we all arrived safe.
Sarah had the fire going for hotwater, ambience and cooking. Mum, after driving the whole way, still insisted on preparing dinner and we feasted on an excellent home-cooked meal and drank my dad’s homemade wine (which Sarah was rather impressed with much to my dad’s delight :)).
So that was our Christmas day. We all retired exhausted but well-fed and happy.
And the rains kept coming. And coming. An excursion down to our causeway on the driveway found that it had been completely washed out. Part of the road was no longer there having been washed down the creek.
We started talking food rations (even though mum had secretly packed enough food for an army of 10…just in case). Nothing much to do but read, play guitar, eat and drink lots of wine. Lots of wine.
The occasional venture out into the rain and mud had rather comical results. Not for my family perhaps who discovered just how fat leeches can grow if not removed immediately.
Sarah and I spent a fair bit of time pulling out weeds. So much easier to do when the soil is wet. During one of our weed-pulling afternoons we came across (and freed) a red-bellied black snake caught in some old netting. It was our first hands-on attempt at freeing a poisonous snake. Both exhilarating and scary. Sarah had the difficult job of cutting the netting from around the snake’s upper body quite close to its head. I held the snake by the neck with a long pvc pipe; a doubled-up rope running through it poking out at the end in a loop. The moment it was free we ran in opposite directions…slowly returning to make sure it was ok. It was. Go us.
On day 4 the sun broke through the clouds. No kidding, I heard a choir of angels. It was a beautiful sight. Sarah and I hadn’t seen the sun for weeks.
Time to trek down to the causeway. Our neighbours were already building channels to divert the water so we could rebuild the road. We all helped clear the channels and mounted walls of smooth creek stones. Exhausting but fun. By the time we finished we could see where the road used to be. It would have to be filled in with stones again. But that would have to be tomorrow ’cause we were all buggered.
Up early on the 29th, Sarah and I started rebuilding the road. Not long after our neighbours arrived and we all put in a mammoth effort. It started looking like a road again. Still somewhat under water but passable. My family walked down to have a look and plan their departure. They would be able to leave by midday.
And midday it was. Escorted by the ute again, Sarah and I drove them out and up the gravel road past the causeways. Dad said he hadn’t had an adventure like this in 50 years. We said our goodbyes and off they went.
It was nice having them but also nice to have the place to ourselves again.
So much to do: check the drowned vege gardens, give the somewhat drowned chicken coop a good clean, chainsaw the dead trees for firewood that fell during the rain. Sarah (bless her little waterlogged heart) suggested we take the afternoon off. I seconded the motion and it was passed.