Having been somewhere, or knowing a bit about a place, always makes it seem a bit more real when it is in the news.
This past year, for instance, Haiti has been very much in my mind, what with its earthquake, cholera outbreak, massive rebuilding task and so on. It’s one of the countries I am due at some point to visit as part of the mullet mission, and I always take an interest in news I see or hear about the country. It sounds like such an amazing place and it is a tragedy to see it on its knees.
The current floods in Queensland, Australia, have been of interest and concern too. I have been there twice, first of course as part of the adventures that became “Up The Creek Without a Mullet”, and have a number of friends out there.
When I was on that trip, in 2005, Australia was in the middle of the “Big Dry”, the huge drought that had affected most of the country for many years, and in places still does. I remember people’s caution about using water sparingly, such as in the shower, and the ground right across many of the areas I visited seemed parched. Mullett Creek, north of Bundaberg, for instance, was completely dried up and hadn’t seen water for some time. It was more a ditch than a creek, to be honest.
It brought home the idea that being a well-developed Western country with good facilities doesn’t mean you can take water for granted: a lesson I think we could learn a lot in the UK where our weather makes it tempting to assume that there’s no point thinking about water.
How different things are today, with an area the size of France and Germany affected by floods and Queensland facing the very opposite problem. I’ve seen familiar places on news reports as Brisbane is now facing the worst of the flooding, and heard from a few friends as to how they are getting on – one couple I know have had to evacuate their home and believe it to be now under water. Even though the flood water seems to be subsiding, Australians now face the huge clean-up and rebuilding job.
My thoughts are with those in Queensland facing the task of putting things back together (you can donate here), and of course to Haiti which, a year after the earthquake, has an even bigger task to complete.