Thursday, December 21, 2006


What do we want for Christmas?, a fabulous Mercedes [my ideal is the new GL because there is plenty of room for the kids and the paintings], beautiful books, colourful crockery??? Well, actually I'd love all of these... and extra time in the day, my children unquestionally doing as I ask, plus some bountiful and steady rain to fall from the Heavens.

I grew up on a grain farm on the flat plains of the Darling Downs in South East Queensland. I grew up with the knowledge that rain/water is precious. I remember living through droughts where my two brothers and I had to bath in same water and we were not allowed to shower. I remember city visitors causing my parents extreme anxiety at bath time, because the visitors really did not understand the concept of a short shower or turning off the tap whilst brushing teeth. I remember my brothers and I doing a rain dance which involved costumes, shouting and gyrating in a actually worked. We had about four spots of rain from a clear sky [maybe it was a bird's offering!]

Actually I remember some ghastly occurrences on the farm including a mouse plague where the mice would scurry across my body while I was sleeping. And the locust plague was incredible! I recall watching tv with these large insects jumping off my face, arms and legs. They covered the curtains and other furniture and ate my Dad's crops.

But, back to water. After attending University, and doing a stint as a curatorial assistant at the National Gallery in Canberra, I moved to Goondiwindi, a small rural town on the border of New South Wales and Queesland. I lived there for 18 years during which time water became an incredibly valuable commodity due to the irrigation needs of mainly the cotton farmers. In the late 70s/early 80s water irrigation licenses to pump from the McIntyre River were easily available for a relatively small fee. Then the Government decided not to issue any more licenses to assist in regulating water flows etc. This forced the market to make a license a saleable item. They have become increasingly more and more valuable some reaching the millions of dollars.

I noticed that as the years passed the hot dry climate of Goondiwindi changed to a hot humid climate. I put this down to the increasing number of large dams which were built to house water for irrigation and the evaporation from them causing climatic change. These dams are hectares of land. People go sailing on them! From a light aircraft the land around Goondiwindi, Moree and out to St george, and further, is dotted  with large water storages/dams.
Now to Brisbane where we are on level 4 water restrictions. City people are now having to think about how much water they use. This is second nature to country people. Water and rain are always in the forefront of their thoughts, either because there isn't enough, and then sometimes there is too much!

I have driven many long stretches of road out west watching strips of rain on the horizon hoping that a strip is hovering over my place or my town. That utterance "There's rain out there" is full of hope. It is almost like a short prayer.

The painting above is called Rain Out There. It is a small gouache on watercolour paper painting. Actually it would make a great Christmas present for someone. Let me know if you are interested!

NOTE ADDED 6 Dec 2010
This painting sold a few months ago. And as I write this, rain has been falling for weeks and floods are causing destruction.

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