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Showing posts with the label water

Reading journal: The Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter

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Genre: Science Fiction Published: 2017 Date read: June 2018 A story of a future Australia where the inland is in permanent drought and the inhabitants have been forcefully relocated or herded into camps. But there are hold-outs, people who hide from the Creeps and eke out a precarious living. The story begins with a football match against a passing First People caravan, and the return of Bill’s friend Tobe from his wanderings. Bill and Tobe are close, and share a tragic past. Bill’s loyalty is tested when Tobe insists on an exploratory trip into the badlands, but he follows Tobe faithfully, even when they must abandon their bolthole, only to be betrayed in the end. (I hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler). This is an interesting book. I enjoyed it as a writer, seeing how Walter has varied the pace to create atmosphere. The structure of the book is interesting too, a classic story structure with a strong inciting incident which I didn’t identify until the very end, even tho

Reading journal: Sponge City: Water resource management by ICI Consultants and Sophie Barbaux

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Genre: Nonfiction Published: 2015 Date read: March 2018 I’m a real sucker for luscious illustrated books on landscape design, and I feasted on this one for days. The book explores new ways to manage urban water. Instead of trying to get rid of water as quickly as possible through underwater drains, this book shows how many cities and towns in France have instead brought the water back into the landscape with ponds, swales, ditches and overflow ponds. Flood waters are allowed to spread naturally and sink into the sponge as part of the water management system, rather than be seen as a problem. Descriptive text is provided in French and English. I didn’t understand the importance of this idea until I saw a television program about climate change in Europe. Over the next fifty years, cities are planning for record floods as ice and snow cover and glaciers disappear. Too much water is an imminent threat. From an Australian perspective, we are worrying more about extended heat

Book review: Running Down: Water in a changing land by Mary E White

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Genre: Nonfiction Published: 2000 Date read: March 2018 This book explores the evolution of Australia’s river systems and how they have changed since European settlement. The book is packed full of wonderful photographs, maps, diagrams, and anecdotes, and a sobering message. White doesn’t paint a very optimistic picture. Our farming practices have created immense damage that most of us are not even aware of, since what we see now is what we assume was always there. There’s a truly awful story told by an old farmer from the Riverina. He describes how, on the advice of the Department of Agriculture of the time, they kept their land plowed and fallow. One heavy storm later, and most of their topsoil flowed into local rivers and creeks, filling them to the brim with mud and killing all the fish and other wildlife within. None of those rivers or creeks ever recovered to their previous condition, and neither did the farms. A tragedy. Publication of this book was sponsored by a g

Reading journal: Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

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Genre: Nonfiction Published: 2014 Read: March 2018 This book is subtitled “Black seeds: agriculture or accident?” Pascoe’s short and readable book summarises the output of a range of primary and secondary sources that examined the economy of Indigenous people in Australia before European settlement destroyed that economy forever. Most convincing are the quotes and illustrations from the diaries and reports of early inland explorers, describing flourishing grain production and harvesting, robust houses, fishtraps on rivers, smoking fish and other meats for preservation, yam planting and harvesting, maintenance and protection of wells and the use of fire to maintain the environment in a useful grassy state. All these methods of making a living from Australia’s intermittent rivers and thin infertile soils were gone within a few years of the arrival of European stock animals and crops, and the environmental degradation continues. Pascoe argues that it is the Europeans who w

Reading journal: Wild Waterfalls of South Eastern Australia by Peter Quinton

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Genre: Nonfiction Published: 2018 Read: March 2018 A beautiful collection of the author’s own photographs of Australian waterfalls, some acquired at the cost of personal injury, and all showing Quinton’s mastery of photography. The photographs are supported with maps, well-documented historical details, and information about Indigenous names and cultural aspects of the falls. This book was helped along its path by record rains in Australia in 2016, which brought many creeks and waterfalls back to life after many dry years. The author has also used these images to provide inspiration and imagery for a collaboration with the American artist CR Bravo, the illustrated novel Twilight of the Gods . The ebook version is best viewed on a large colour screen, and doesn’t work on a basic Kindle. It’s worth it, though. Lovely work.

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

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

Book review: The Water Dreamers by Michael Cathcart

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For all Australians, a great non-fiction book about our attitude to water, starting with polluting the Tank Stream at Sydney Cove to destruction and moving on to our overuse of the Murray Darling Basin. A very readable book about the rivers, lakes and inland seas that we don't have, the effort that went into looking for them, and the wet-country mindsets and attitudes of the white explorers. It was interesting to read about Griffith Taylor, geographer, who was essentially run out of the country for insisting that the inland was dry and nothing could be done about it — this was regarded as unpatriotic back in the nineteen twenties, and probably still is. He offended Western Australians by creating a map with a large piece of their state marked as 'Useless'. Echoes of John Wesley Powell, who is also reputed to have said, on seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona, 'Impressive, but useless', and who, similarly, warned against irrigation in the American arid West.