Australian Drought

I sit writing this on a large veranda, overlooking the hills and mountains of Tamworth in New South Wales. I’m enjoying the hospitality of the land and house worked by my sister and her partner. It’s all very idyllic. Even now, in their winter, it’s a most pleasant 20 degrees, though they keep going a log burner in their ‘loungeroom’ which is the largest of its kind I’ve ever seen. This morning we attended the local auction mart or ‘cattle sales yard’, where tough-looking akubra-wearing Aussie farmers, all called Bruce, buy and sell their cattle. On my tours of the farm in the John Deere gator, a kind of agricultural golf buggy, we saw kangaroos and wallabies peering back at us, and green and red parrots squawking as they flew off at our approach. The sheep and cattle wander freely, eating the grass and drinking from the large dams (waterholes) sitting among the eucalyptus trees.


However, all is not well in this sun-drenched breadbasket. Bales of hay can sell for $500 (around £250) unless one seeks them further afield. Cattle are taken to the sales yard looking gaunt and the aforementioned watering holes are dangerously low, some dried up, their bottoms nothing but cracked clay, baked hard. Morning Television advertises appeals whereby benevolent members of the public can help buy water for famers; I witnessed a water delivery myself this afternoon. The drought is now in its third year. There are still patches of greenery and grazing for the cattle- for now. The morning dew allows a veneer of light foliage to hide the parched earth, but the drought is now biting deeper.

The Peel River, below, flows through the town, named after British Prime Minister and fellow Lancastrian, famous for his speech given at the English Tamworth. There is nothing in it.


We’ve had droughts in Britain, of course. Older readers will recall the long hot summer of ’76. The government’s appointment of a minister for drought heralded that dry spell’s cessation. The Australian experience is far different. This is a real drought and the shortage of water is costing consumers dearly with growers’ livelihoods suffering. Indeed, some lives have ended prematurely as farmers give their shot guns the kiss of death.

I’ve asserted several times on these pages that we in the West are suffering a spiritual drought. The odd shower here, a little green growth there, covers and conceals the barren dust upon which we have built. The land is parched, the people spiritually famished. Dams of refreshment have become entertainment shows, watering holes are empty wells. May the Lord send refreshing showers- not just to water the gospel but to wash away the dust and sand in which we have sown our seed and built our lives.