Daily Archives: Tuesday 1 January 2008

42!

No, that’s not how old I am, ‘though my 42nd birthday is looming. It’s the level the mercury got to in Adelaide yesterday. “Hot” doesn’t really begin to capture it. I’m suffering from heat shock.

We flew into 41.5 degrees (Celsius – that’s about 107 Fahrenheit) on Sunday. Baking, dry heat, which would be endurable, except that the temperature didn’t drop all that much overnight. It only went down to 29.9 C (86 F) – very, very difficult to sleep in. The hottest night since 1941, apparently. Followed by 42.2 C on the last day of the year, and another hot night – the overnight low was about 26 C. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting that today’s maximum will be about 38. It’s officially a heatwave. The good news is that the locals are complaining about the heat too. If they thought this was just routine, I would be packing my bags to head back to the old country. It looks as though the temperature will drop right down to 19 C (66 F) tonight, and although the daily maximums will shoot back up for the next few days, by the middle of next week things should be much cooler. Until the next heatwave comes along.

Our exit from New Zealand was the usual trial of long check-in queues and poor services at Auckland International Airport. By the time we got onto the plane, I was desperate for coffee, but when it finally arrived, it was the standard Air New Zealand swill. So we ordered some Lindauer as well. Nothing wrong with a glass of bubbly at 9.30am in the morning. The flight steward found out that it was our big moving day, so later on, when the second drinks service came around, he shot up to business class, and brought us back some rather nice champagne (the real thing) in stemmed glasses, not stubby plastics. Beauregarde, I hold you in very high regard. And then Captain Tania R* (I’m sorry, I can’t recall her family name), whispered the plane down at Adelaide International with the merest slight bump to let us know we were on the ground. It was the smoothest, sweetest landing I have ever felt. So whatever the coffee woes of Air New Zealand, the flight crew was superb.

Flying across Australia was fascinating. Wind problems further south meant that we crossed the coastline just south of the Sydney CBD, and from there flew in a straight line to Adelaide, across miles and miles of parched country. The earth was brown and red and bare, with not even a hint of eucalyptus green. There were little white rings everywhere, looking for all the world like pockmarks, the dried out remains of dams and water pools. The water is all gone. Just a few rings were muddy brown, with a faint glimmering of sludgy water. Even worse were the dried out remains of paddocks and fields that had obviously been cultivated until just recently, but the drought has driven them out of production. Sadly, many families’ livelihoods and dreams must have withered along with their farms. I know that it’s crazy to farm in the marginal zones of the driest continent, but that doesn’t make the reality any easier for the people who have been dried out of their future.

Water is a huge issue. We were pleasantly surprised to find that when we bought a new front loading washing machine yesterday, the state government will give us a $200 rebate, because it uses much less water than top loading machines. We weren’t trying to be virtuous – it’s just that our old top loader won’t fit in the space. So the state government has ended up giving us money as an incentive to do something that we would have done anyway. Interesting economics. On top of that, it turns out that the South Australian state government was the very last state government to introduce such rebates, even though South Australia is the driest state of all. The emphasis on water is not unexpected, but it’s all quite strange for us. Coming from wet and windy Wellington, it’s going to take us a lot of time and effort to learn how to manage our water usage.

What won’t take us any time to learn to manage is the super fast broadband connection. Fantastic. Quick wireless broadband in every room of the house. How good is that?

Our stuff arrives tomorrow. After being on the move, staying in motels and with family for nearly seven weeks, at last we will be at home again.