The view from Galore Hill shows a “dry and weary land,” says columnist David Clements. Submitted photo by David Clements

Green Beat: A dry and weary land

As summer turns into autumn in Australia, the long, hot dry spell has not relented

  • May. 2, 2018 9:01 a.m.

By David Clements

As summer turns into autumn here down under in Australia, the long, hot dry spell we have seen over the last four months has not relented.

The Riverina district where I am residing is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the country, but it is often dogged by drought, and this year is no exception.

Farmers are waiting for the rain to plant crops, although some have already planted in the hopes that rain will come soon.

Today my wife and I visited Galore Hill, where settler Henry Osborne is said to have proclaimed in 1847 as he beheld the land below: “There’s land enough and galore for me.”

As you see from the photo I took at the top of Galore Hill, at this point it is a “dry and weary land” like Israel was when David penned Psalm 63.

Although much of the land we see is dry like the photo, Australia’s largest irrigation district northwest of us is kept well-watered by the Murrumbidgee River that flows through Wagga Wagga where I currently live.

The area of irrigated land in the MIA (Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area) is 170,000 ha and produces heaps of products, including rice, cotton, wine, citrus crops, hazelnuts, walnuts, prunes and livestock.

When my wife and I visited the MIA, we met a jovial farmer who handed us delicious fresh figs, right off his trees. He said he was pretty happy with the MIA water supply, although it was not cheap.

Even the MIA is falling on dry times as the water is allocated conservatively in view of the fact that the two main dams are considerably less than full, with the Burrinjuck at 39 per cent and the Blowering Dam at 46 per cent as of April 26.

Wilcannia is eight hours northwest of Wagga on the Darling River, and due to irrigation demand and the dry conditions, parts of the riverbed there are dry enough for a cricket match.

This was demonstrated in late March when a group of pastoralists and friends got together to play cricket on the dusty riverbed, and make a point that the precious little water available needs to be managed effectively.

Everyone here is praying for rain, and the farmers who have already planted seed are obviously hopeful, as are the cattle and sheep farmers who lately have had to resort to importing hay from other parts of Australia.

One meteorology “first look” gives some reason for hope, predicting wetter than average conditions for this region for May-July, which would be quite a splash on this dry and weary land.

David Clements, Ph.D. is Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Trinity Western University



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Langley rollover crash slows traffic on 200 Street in Willoughby

Crews called to Monday afternoon collision involving two cars

Township mayor Jack Froese talks short- and long-term goals for third term

Tree bylaw, pot sales among topics that will need attention in coming months

Used election signs could serve as emergency shelters, candidate says

Langley council hopeful wants to build one-person foul weather shelters for homeless

Four-vehicle collision shuts down section of Highway 10 in Cloverdale

One driver transported to hospital with what looked to be non-life threatening injuries

Langley player to compete in first NCAA basketball tournament in Canada

Former Brookswood star Louise Forsyth to play in Vancouver Showcase

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

Vancouver mayoral hopefuly admits defeat, congratulates winner Kennedy Stewart

Ken Sim of the Non-Partisan Association apologized for the time it took to acknowledge Stewart won

Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Peter Kampos told his lawyer ‘his dreams are being stolen and turned into drugs’ at Surrey Pre-trial

Fraser Valley mom stuck in Africa over adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran have been waiting four weeks to bring son home

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

Most Read