Drought town

We lived an eight year stretch in the town on Dubbo in New South Wales’ Central West district.  We moved there in December 2001, just as a one-in-one hundred year drought bit.

My enduring memories of Dubbo is of it as a dry, dusty wasteland, dun-coloured plains haunted by mini-tornadoes, a blighted landscape of tortured trees extending twisted limbs to a blistering sun.

In many respects this also mirrored the state of my soul at the time.  For various reasons the hardest years of my life were the eight we spent in Dubbo.

We drove out of Dubbo on the 5th of November 2009, heading north and leaving behind the brown wastelands of both geography and soul.  Seemingly it hasn’t stopped raining in Dubbo since.

Our middle son was 6 months old when we moved to Dubbo.  He was effectively born into the extraordinary drought and up until recently has not known the pitter patter of rain on a tin roof, spending the first eight years of his life under searing blue skies and roasting heat.


Water inundates the toy library where my wife Anne faithfully volunteered.

We haven’t been back to Dubbo since we left, though we will tentatively return in two weeks’ time to catch up with those who have shown themselves to be more than fair-weather friends.

We will be returning to a landscape profoundly different to any we knew from 2001-2009.  Just this weekend Dubbo has been inundated with the waters released into the Macquarie River from the 150% full Burrendong Dam, 50 kilometres upstream.  Friends of ours have been keeping us up to date with their health and safety, as rising flood waters have lapped their front doors and forced the evacuation of their businesses.

We might know Dubbo as a dry and dusty place, our friends are having memories made of extraordinary floods that we simply can’t imagine.  Life goes on (in mysterious ways) …..


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