Are we having fun(gi) yet?

What a week! Or at least the last few days. Thankfully the water has drained out of Lismore and the authorities are inspecting to give the all-clear for businesses to start the big clean-up. The mud on the roads and in the buildings is full of toxic c**p (some literally), so care must be taken. Photos on Facebook show water up to a metre from the awnings in shops along the main streets – pubs, the bookshop, cafes, op shops, all of them.

Lismore is a ‘flood town’. It was historically sited at the bottom of a bowl that several rivers drain into before they head to the coast. River was the only way to travel and to trade back then before the great forests were cut down and roads built, so Lismore grew and grew on that same spot. The residents have had to cope with floods from the city’s birth and they know how to prepare and what to do. But this came up so fast and was one of the bigger ones on record (not so big as the one in 1954 or the 1974 one which Andrew remembers as he was 10 and living at Ballina at the time). The levee (built in 2005) has done a great job of protecting the CBD, and it would have been so much worse if it hadn’t been there (although it would have flooded gradually rather than in a rush as it did this time). But even it was overtopped by the massive amount of water flowing down the river. People will pull together and help each other. It’ll all take time.

We had 80 mL in the first 24 hours and then 247.5 mL in the second 24 hours – the biggest one-day reading we’ve had in the 15 years we’ve been here (previous record was 173 in February 2004). Our neighbours at the top of the range behind us had 305 mL to our 247. In the downpour, water started coming under the walls and over the floor of the studio, so we spent the next 90 minutes slooshing water out and removing sodden rugs. At least it wasn’t in the middle of the night. (The studio is badly sited and in really bad downpours water comes out of the neighbouring slope and onto the concrete gutters on the ground, but the drain outlet isn’t big enough to take it away quickly enough.)

Our house lights are out of action because of water getting in the bathroom roof and contacting the light circuit there, and there’s water damage to one outer wall of the bathroom, but we still have power, unlike some people. Good job the builder who is currently renovating our place will be here Tuesday (if he’s not patching up his own place).

Murwillumbah (an hour north by road) is in worse shape – the equipment failed after measuring 6.2 metres river height, bigger than the formerly biggest recorded one in 1954, which was only 6.05. Their sewerage system has stopped working and all the roads in and out of Mur’bah are cut off. Lismore’s top was 11.57 metres.

You can see some photos of events in Lismore here. If you are on Facebook, you can see videos and photos from residents, the Lismore SES and especially Rotorwing Helicopter services.

On the plus side, fungi fanatics are anticipating great finds. The previous weekend we went to the Queensland Herbarium at Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens for a fungi exhibition and associated art display. I managed to meet some folks from the Facebook group, SEQ Fungi, and they are as keen as mustard. I can certainly see the attraction. I’ll post about that next time.

In the meantime, here’s a few shots of a Scleroderma puffball over a few days last week in the backyard before it all went to rain.



And totally empty after the rain …

We had a few refugees after the rain – no idea where Ms Sqwarky came from. She’s moved on now …

Valanga irregularis, ID courtesy Bruce Turnbull, Amateur Entomology Australia FB page

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10 Responses to Are we having fun(gi) yet?

  1. Prue Gargano says:

    Nice shot of the grasshopper! Those puffball fungi: when they’re very young they’re quite nice to eat.

    • Joy Window says:

      Interesting you should say that. The latest issue of the FungiMap newsletter is all about edibility. I’ll email it to you. No fungi expert I’ve ever talked to would recommend eating one unless you know exactly what it is – some look like edible European species but are not.

  2. roselenecusack says:

    So glad you’re all safe but I sure don’t envy the cleanup that is under way.
    The puffball – that’s an interesting series of pics. I’ve tried gently prodding them to get the puff of spores, – it’s really a two person project!
    And the grasshopper. I love the eye having the same camouflage colours as the body.
    An afterthought – the old Queenslander style of house – built up off the ground with open passage underneath – maybe that will become the ‘new’ standard style of home in floodprone areas if predictions of more/worse floods shows up.

    • Joy Window says:

      Hi Roz. That style of house is very common in the Northern Rivers as well as in Queensland. It helps with humidity and keeping the air moving under the house so things don’t rot quite so fast. The poorer suburbs of Lismore (hardest hit by the floods after the CBD) have loads of these houses, but they are basically built on a flood plain, so have to be ‘up’. Most of the time this works, but this time they weren’t ‘up’ enough. For new houses, the council does not allow them to be built in flood-prone areas.

  3. Betty Jacobs says:

    Thanks for the post Joy. I was going to email and ask but you are way ahead of me. Good luck with the clean up and fungi searching. Needless to say my garden is thriving with all the rain and my new watering system Geoff installed just near the end of the hot dry summer.

  4. Kath says:

    Thanks Joy. Thoughts are with those who are threatened by nature doing what comes naturally. I would be terrified!

    • Joy Window says:

      Yes, pretty scary when you’re in the thick of it. I realised today while looking at Facebook photos that although I went through Cyclone Tracey in 1974, afterwards I was at a bit of a distance emotionally. I didn’t have to hang around and clean/reconstruct my house or business – just caught the escape plane out when it was convenient for me. I still don’t have to, but it is much closer to ‘home’ now to see places you have been frequenting and buildings that are so familiar in such a state. I empathise with those poor folks who went through Debbie, too.

  5. Jean says:

    Eric was in Airlie Beach when the cyclone came through the town. (I was in Townsville.) His reports were quite hair-raising. The water was out for several days; the power is still out. He has folding solar panels and batteries, so after the rain stopped and the sun came out, he wasn’t doing too badly. Communal BBQs have used up food that would otherwise have spoiled in the heat.

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