Summer in Australia can be a tense time because it is so often accompanied by the unmistakable smell of burning bushland and the sight of smoke haze and billowing grey 'clouds' in the distance that indicate mighty blazes in national parks and State forests.
But this year's different. For several months, it's been wet, wet, wet in the eastern states. And in northern NSW and Queensland the relentless downpour has led to scenes of devastation and destruction. So far, 12 people north of the border have lost their lives trying to escape the deluge. There are still around 50 unaccounted for. And thousands are homeless as they wait for the torrents of water to subside so they can return to their homes and businesses - or what remains.
Here in Sydney we are (touch wood) bloody lucky. Authorities say we can help with a money donation. Go to: http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html
Interestingly (and a lighter aside) the floods and wet weather have had an effect on the habits of local shark populations. For example, a bull shark was supposedly spotted in a Brisbane 'street' after that city's eponymous river broke its banks two days ago and flooded the inner-suburbs. This sighting hasn't been confirmed, but it is possible because bull sharks frequent the river.
And on the NSW south coast last weekend, Mollymook Beach was closed after a bull shark, described by the media as a 'three-metre monster', was seen 'lurking' within 25 metres of swimmers.
According to the experts, recent rain and warm weather have something to do with sharks 'hanging around' (as one report stated) the beach. Large schools of fish swimming close to shore are also an attraction.
My thoughts are with those who've been affected affected by the floods. I didn't think I'd ever say it, but I pray the rain will stop.
Photo: Brisbane's CBD from ABC News website