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Showing posts with the label Cootamundra

Weather: entertainment or information?

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I’ve spent a lot of time looking at weather maps recently as the big wet has flooded inland Australia week after week. There’s a lot to choose from. I can see maps showing warnings, lists of rivers that are going to flood, and any number of seven day forecasts. I can’t see my own town’s weather in real time because we are too small to warrant an automated weather station. In fact, some days, the temperature and rainfall measurements never appear at all. I guess whoever does the work couldn’t make it over to the airport that day. There are monitors in the creek upstream where heavy falls are most likely to cause flash flooding through the town, but these aren’t integrated in any meaningful way into our forecasts. Monitoring Muttama Creek What people seem to want are pretty satellite graphics that show clouds moving in stately circles from west to east. These are fairly useless. In the old days on TV (yeah, it was black and white, since you ask) we always got what was cal

My Coota garden (autumn 2016)

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Our first summer in Coota has been interesting. Rain — irregular. From October to March we had just over 300mm in total, but November had 88mm, February only 18mm. This was tough on plants, since I did only two supplementary waterings over that time. Temperatures —hot. Mean maximum temps were around 30 degrees Celsius. Very hard work for plants. So what survived? Drum roll ... The winner is:  Hardenbergia. Spread all over the place and just laughed at the weather. Unfortunately, so did the cursed “lawn”, some kind of invasive runner-based grass. Close runners up: Callistemon (bottlebrush) and Melaleuca (paperbark). These have water-conserving narrow leaves with hard coatings. Comfortable without thriving: Grevillea, protea, African daisies of some kind, semi-succulent, Mexican Orange Blossom, mandarin, lilli pilli, kangaroo paw, various unidentified corms and bulbs. Battlers: Roses, camellias, abelia, cherry. Didn’t die but are in poor conditio

Muttama Creek, looks innocent but...

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Muttama Creek runs through the middle of Cootamundra, over several flood-prone low-level crossings and under a few bridges. It runs down through a wide valley, its own floodplain, to Coolac and then into the Murrumbidgee River. Muttama Creek, Cootamundra, NSW It doesn't look like much, but this tiny watercourse has serious form. It used to feed a large dam, the Stock Dam, on the location of what is now Jubilee Park. It flooded Parker Street, the main street, to over a metre on more than one occasion. (Photo below, Coota Deluge 4.12.19,  from State Library of NSW, see original here ) Parker St, Cootamundra, 1919 (Photo State Library of NSW) Amazingly, Muttama Creek washed away the railway to Gundagai and Tumut so many times that in the end the track was abandoned completely in 1984. About 25km downstream is the village of Muttama, and the creek there is much more robust, running even in December (the first month of summer). Muttama Creek, Muttama, NSW The

My Coota garden

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This is going to be fun! First a deconstruction. Cootamundra -- thick clay soil, relatively low rainfall in the 500 to 600mm per annum range, frosty winters, baking hot summers over 40 degrees C. Like the extremes of Canberra only at lower altitude. And our new garden, built by people who loved perennial flowers. Hmmm. My basic philosophy is, water when establishing plants or during periods of extreme heat or dryness. Other than that, they're on their own. Instead, my predecessors installed a spray irrigation system and used it often. This means the plants are used to regular water and have shallow roots. I'm ruthless, though. If they can't survive a couple of weeks or even a month of dry they can go ahead and die. Lots of them will. For example, the camellias and azaleas, planted on a north facing fence in full sun. A big ask. They're doomed. And the soil looks bad, these poor little things can't even access the iron in there if those yellow leaves are any

Falling out of love with Canberra

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My love affair with Canberra lasted a long time, from our arrival in 1977 until this year. I've always loved the landscape best, especially the mountains behind Tuggeranong, enough to stop my breath every time I see them. The city itself, though, isn't ageing well. And you have to be rich to live there. It's the price-gouging capital of Australia, as well as the political capital. When I moved to Canberra I had strange ideas about the place. I worried that I would have to dress up to ride my bike down to the shops. Of course that was rubbish, but in some ways connecting to the culture of the place is as elusive as ever. Perhaps I just got tired of it and needed a change? Anyway, by 2015 the fractures became too great to ignore. I couldn't face another leapfrogging rates bill, or another local government election full of lies. Everything suddenly became too crowded and too expensive. And the ignorance of my fellow Australians reached towering heights. A woman sai