Before I got here, in April, the Ridge was coming off the end of a long dry. I’d lived in Alice Springs for a few years so I wasn’t fazed by the khaki landscape, the mobs of roos hugging the roadside, or the willie-willies that spiralled across the plains. But when it broke, Holy Mother of God, did it break.
The first drenching I got was riding home from school. At Morilla Street, by the post office, the floodwater was so high that only the white line was showing, and the junction of the Three Mile Road (which seems to flood if someone spits outside the Bowlo) was a torrent.
And it kept on raining. And kept on.
A mate’s got a claim and asked if it was worth coming up: would he be able to get out to it? I went for a stickybeak down the Lone Pine Road, off the highway there. People had warned me about the black mud but it still caught me by surprise. Jesus! The treads on the tyres soon filled up and I was slewing around like a drunk.
And, of course, as soon as I stepped off, my boots got gummed up. It was like someone had glued a couple of house bricks to the soles. Took me a bloody hour to hose the gunk from under the mudguards and off the swinging arm!
Last night, at the pub, we sat outside and watched a huge storm roll past on its way to Collaranabri. Massive shafts of lightning drilled down through black clouds and we thought we’d missed it, but then it circled back and pounded us for a while. We huddled under the verandah and watched the patio turn into a swimming pool. Again.
But it’s starting to warm up. Today it was like last night never happened. The sun’s shining and it’s going to be in the mid-thirties, a perfect day for Potch Queen.
The wildflowers are blooming: swathes of purple, yellow and white dots blanket the roadsides where, a few weeks ago, the roos were scrapping for anything green.
Before we know it all this will be dead, brown, a fire hazard. But right now it’s the prettiest place on earth.