Australia is vast but the centres of population are gathered around the coast for good reason. I remember flying from Perth to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) over the Nullarbor Desert. The never-ending sea of red earth, occasional straight tracks of an unsealed road, with only the clouds above shading the landscape. Alighting from the plane we were hit with a wall of heat and dust, forty degrees and windy. The heat sucks the breath and energy from you.
We did a dawn tour of Uluru which meant setting off at 4 a.m to watch the sunrise and eat freshly cooked damper (bread) on very modern equipment.
I have had to draw on my memories of seven years ago for my new book because some of it is set on a sheep station in the outback.
On the ground, I was surprised by the amount of greenery. The desert is alive with grasses, bushes, even trees. But this was a year when there had been rain. At the moment, vast tracts of New South Wales are experiencing a dreadful drought. Farmers are crying out for help. Animals have no feed and are having to be moved or slaughtered. This is an unforgiving land.
Imagine no rain, rivers running dry, no feed for the horses or bullocks, no railroads or aeroplanes. No roads only tracks through the red sand, but the sand is constantly shifting and the landscape changing daily. This is the difference between 1919 and 2018. A hundred years ago another drought devastated New South Wales. The only help came by camel train, not by truck or rail. The rivers ran dry, the water in the tanks ran dry, things are so desperate that the farmers abandon their land. Can things get any worse? Yes, they can. Find out how in Sadie’s Wars.