with Captain Chaos

When the rain tumbled down in July

My heart goes out to the people in the flood areas of Queensland and I hope the people affected can get back to normality as soon as possible. After all the amazing rescues and the tragedies I was reminded of a huge flood many years ago in the channel country west of Julia Creek in north western Queensland
We had taken the mustering camp out to the north western corner of the property, about 30 miles from the homestead and there were just black soil plains between us and it. We had set up camp at an old boundary rider’s hut. The whole area around us was hill and ridge country covered with gidgee scrub, ant hills and spinifex.
The first week went well and we were running ahead of time, then the clouds started to build up, but we didn’t worry as the wet season was four months away. We could expect a shower or two, which would make the mustering harder. The cattle wouldn’t be walking into the water holes, they would be content to find water out where they were grazing, so we would have a hard time moving them.
Some of the ringers wanted to stop and head into the station, but Jimmy, the head stockman said we only had a few days in which to muster and if we left then we would have to muster the whole area again. The sheet lighting, thunder and black clouds had us worried about getting back to the homestead.
So we got into it with a vengeance, but on the last two days of yard work the rain came pouring down. So Jimmy made the decision to let the cattle out and for us to make a run for the station. While some of us went to let the cattle out, two of the ringers went down the road towards the station to see what the black plains were like for the 4-wheel vehicle and the horses. We had just moved the last of the cattle from the yards when they came galloping back.
“The whole area in the direction of the station is under water,” one of the ringers told Jimmy.
We all wanted to see, so we rode down through the gidgee to the open country, an amazing sight met our eyes. There were waves breaking over a huge expanse of water stretching as far as the eye could see and the dry, cracked black soil plain had turned into an inland sea. It was over 30 miles to the station over the channel country and it was still raining.
Jimmy sent some riders in the direction of Cloncurry, but they were back before dark and said that all the creeks were running bankers and the river was too wide and fast to swim the horses. They had swum a few creeks to get that far and they were cold, wet and hungry.
The rain finally stopped and after a week of dry weather Jimmy was worried about supplies. We only had an old cow to eat and not much else.
One morning we were awakened by the noise of a low flying Cessna plane buzzing the camp. We jumped up and headed for the cattle yards where we had laid out the word “FOOD” in bags and clothes in the large main yard. The plane flew over a number of times, then roared down over us, dipped its wings and then headed away into the distance.
The next day found us listening for the sound of that engine, but it wasn’t until the second day that the plane returned. We raced down to the yards, climbed up and sat waiting on the top rails as the plane came in low over our heads. Out of the door, two large bags came tumbling down and spot on, they hit our sign.
We were shrouded in a cloud of white flour and when it settled, we were all white from head to foot and looked like very strange snowmen. The aborigines looked like the black and white minstrels. The plane dipped its wings and an up-raised finger was seen at the pilots window!
The rest of the drop went without a hitch, one box was dropped with a home-made parachute and to our surprise on opening it we found a cheering note from the station women and a large fruit cake. Covered in flour, we immediately scoffed the lot. They had also thought to put tobacco and papers and matches in one of the bags. It took another two weeks for the plain to be passable.

Damper Fruit Cake

2 cups self raising flour
1 ½ cups of mixed dried fruit
8 oz milk
pinch of salt
golden syrup
Throw all the ingredients except for the syrup into a bowl and mix well. Butter a rectangle cake tin place the mixture in and bake in the oven at 200 c for 20 minutes, take out and pour golden syrup all over the top being quite generous then bake for another 15 minutes. Take out and let cool then turn out.