Even in the dark I can tell when the river has started to flood. I love to hear the normal soft rushing sound at night, a little like distant traffic. This is more. It’s a freeway roar that means big standing waves crashing against the rocks. Big water on the move is magnificent.
Whole islands disappear, leaving just a set of scrambling waves, rushing to get past.
The flow in Mullion creek quickly turns flood-beige with dissolving dirt coming from the hills. The river itself is more like weak tea, with occasional froth that would not be delicious in a cappuccino.
I have hopes that in future years, the colour change will be slower as the ridgeline plantings and erosion control begin to take effect, filtering and slowing the water in its plunge downhill after rain.The casuarinas lining the river banks take the brunt of the force. The living ones are rarely uprooted, but dead ones tend to float down, ripping out fences as they go and ending up wrapped around a fence, a rock, another tree.
The creek comes up quickly, and goes down just as fast, but usually timed perfectly so that the river crossing is flooded as soon as the creek is clear. That means a long journey to a higher bridge at Taemas or Cotter, doubling our travel time into Canberra. The Murrumbidgee in this condition is nothing to mess with.
Sometimes the floods will move the even the biggest rocks, tumbling them into new positions. We found a huge boulder one year right in front of our favorite diving ledge. Good thing we always check. The next year it was gone again,a tonne or so of granite bumping and grinding along the bottom on its way to the sea.
In the very biggest floods, the sound changes again. It goes back to a whisper because all the rocks are so deeply covered. There’s an eerie quiet, with just the occasional splash of a big dead tree falling and being carried away downstream.
This flood is not that large. It has already started going down, with hopes of the river bridge being back open in a day or two (thanks Ingo). This is just a little reminder of what flood means to us.
UPDATE: Well, the water didn’t go down very quickly. It went higher instead, cutting the road and covering even the trees I had photographed. So much for my river predictions…