Last week, heat threatens fires. This week, floods send vast amounts of water from the mountains to the sea. One bridge at Cadgee along the Nerrigundah road washes away; water laps at the edges of a caravan park; and further north about forty campers are stranded, including a baby. When the rain first pours down the grass gutters near home flow so fast the grandkids ride their body-boards down the hurtle.
We indulge in a bit of flood tourism and spend about eight hours visiting and revisiting places we know well, barely recognising them under pelting water. At lunchtime, just before Tyrone Bridge goes under, my grandson and I walk across it, water spurting through the boards, and he rescues a body-board caught up against its edge. Later, when we return with the rest of the family, the bridge is thoroughly submerged and the water is still rising. By the time we finish rubber-necking, the chance of getting home along the Eurobodalla road is slim, so we drive at dusk through the bush along Big Rock Road, to be stopped by a fallen tree. However, C-Ridge, the forestry road along which we found sun orchids not so long ago, gave us a clear run to the highway and took us home to a late makeshift dinner.
By 7 the next morning we were out and about again, checking the same spots as yesterday. Our wine-above-the-river spot has become a wine-well-below-the-river spot, and even J, who knows the river reserve intimately finds it hard to pinpoint its exact position. K, my animal-loving daughter-in-law, is in the water up to her knees rescuing grubs and insects and rodents caught up in a drama bigger than us all.
By lunchtime not everyone is keen to see the river enter the sea, so S and I venture off alone, stopping at the Tuross bridge where it would have been no trouble to launch the boat – if you had a death wish. At the opening the water is wild; out to sea are standing waves; at the edges sand drops away in chunks. The water is murky and roiling.
At home, Potato Point beach is no longer pristine: it’s black with tree-trunk detritus.
On the third day the rain eases off, the water drops and wetness becomes a nuisance: piles of damp dirty laundry; no chance of a week camping upriver by the clear calm waters of the Tuross for my visitors; and beans sulking under the vegetable dome because they’ve been watered too much.
By Sunday evening our wine spot is seven metres above river level again, and we sit in early evening above its rapid flow, relishing bank-to-bank water.