Oswald – the cyclone

Mat and I was excited to get to spend a true Australia Day with our friends in Brisbane by going to a pool party. Only thing was that the weather was rather British. It started raining heavily the day before and it was still raining when we woke up on Saturday morning. But the party still went ahead. So we went to a rather wet and grey Australia Day pool party, although the BBQ on offer didn’t disappoint, like true Aussies we had a kangaroo steaks. They were very tasty and tender. We left the party and were driven home by one of our friends, by this time the rain was heavier and we were driving quite slowly to avoid any accidents. Unfortunately being in Australia and on the road, this means not everyone adopts the ‘safety before speed’ thinking. A guy undertook us on the motorway and took a curve way too fast and ended up doing a full 360 due to aqua planing. Smart! Luckily there was no accident and we could all drive on safely, but I can safely say that the guy driving was a bit shaken afterwards.

Sunday morning we woke up and it was still pouring and the winds were very strong. We had to go to the shop to buy food, so we pulled out our waterproof  jackets for the first time since Japan and walked the 2 km to the shop. Needless to say we got drenched on the way to the shop and the winds were so strong that it kept blowing branches off trees and even trees falling over the streets. When we got back home we turned on the TV to watch the news, we found out that further north in Queensland they were suffering severe flooding and one small town had even been hit by a tornado and that it was a tropical cyclone named Oswald that was causing all this trouble. It seems that where ever we go something big or bad happens, the first day in Tokyo a motorway tunnel collapsed, then there was the earthquake, luckily we were in Kyoto when this happened and didn’t notice anything. As we were travelling to Sydney there were major bush fires and then we had the hottest day since records began in Sydney and now a tropical cyclone with record rain falls over 24hrs.

We started our road trip a bit later than planned due to lack of power, but we were generally ok. Which is more than you can say for some other areas of Queensland. It was a bit touch and go at times whether or not we could go further north or not after we started our trip. We had planned to go through Bundaberg on the way up, but this had to be put to one side as the roads were closed off because of flooding. Once we got to Rockhampton I would say that we had a fair bit of luck on our side. We were stopped by a police officer on the highway, he shook our camper van, kicked our tyres, asked us questions about the vehicle and where we were travelling to, then he explained that the river was about to peak at 9pm that evening and traffic was let through on a one way basis and we should be ok even though there was 40 cm water on the road. we waited for the traffic to flow through and then drove on. It was such an eerie sight, there was water lapping at both sides of the road as if there was a big lake either side of it, it was at dusk so we couldn’t see too much and at one point there was so much water on the road that Mat could feel it pushing our van from the side and the stench was horrendous. We made it through safe’n sound and could park up at a camping ground. On our way back down, we passed through at day light and could see the difference, there was no lake at each side of the road anymore, but just one river.

We then passed through Bundaberg, which was the worst place hit. You see all these things on the news, but somehow it doesn’t really hit you until you see the full effects in real life. We drove right through the devastation and it was so sad to see. There was even a house that had been washed away from its foundations and floated down and somehow ‘landed’ on the road! There was cars covered in mud and dirt, several blocks of houses that had been completely flooded, with all their major belongings on the streets. Fridges, freezers, washing machines, sofas and so on. It made us feel very lucky for only suffering a measly power cut.

Some of the photo’s, especially those from Rockhampton aren’t the best quality as it was getting dark, but I wanted to share them anyway.

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