Reprieve

Every day in northern Victoria is a clear day — no rain, no clouds. We get beautiful light this side of the mountains.

It would normally be something to enjoy, this spring holiday in the middle of winter. However, we’ve been working with farmers and I’m starting to understand what drought means to them.

“We’re hoping for rain real soon,” we were told a week ago. “There are farmers out there with their fields empty. It’s pretty much the end of the sowing season but they can’t sow anything without water. If they miss this season, it’ll be the second one in a row…”

Jamie and I walked down the corridor of the main building, towards the exit doors. We were suddenly surrounded by a constant tapping.

“What’s that sound?” I said, puzzled.

We arrived at the windows and saw streaks of movement flying down from the sky and exploding on the ground, turning light grey asphalt to dark grey. The dark grey began as splotches but soon turned into a uniform sheen. I saw clouds for the first time in the two months I’ve worked in Shepparton.

“Rain!” I cried, almost in disbelief. “It’s raining!”

“Fan-bloody-tastic!” admired Jamie.

“I’d forgotten what it sounded like,” I murmured.

When we entered the next building, I felt the buzz of celebration.

“It’s raining!” people crowed. “About time! Just in time!”

“There will be a lot very happy people out there today.”

This is Lake Konardin in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. That’s right, it’s a lake.

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