The few hardy surfers might find it exhilarating but loss of life and the damage paint a different picture in this ‘Premier State’. Since our arrival five weeks ago it has, apart from a week on the beach, rained, but not just ordinary rain. Forget ‘cats and dogs’ and stair rods’ this is tropical, vertical and unrelenting. Even in equatorial rainforests, where there is no dry season, you can expect average monthly precipitation of at least 60mm. Yesterday 100mm was recorded here in just 24 hours. Today 60,000 people have been ordered to evacuate the most affected areas of Sydney and drivers told to stay at home.
Only in very severe weather will the ferry sailings in and out of Circular Quay be cancelled. They were the other night and may be tonight, as the wind is strengthening and the waves are building up, which make crossing the headland tricky. The older ferries leaving Manly Wharf have to turn around and the strong headwind doesn’t make this manoeuvre easier.
It’s not just capricious weather that keeps the ferries in harbour. Two years ago the city sustained the worst smoke conditions on record; Transport for NSW said they had no idea when normal service would be resumed. Beaches were covered in ash and the water turned black. Smoke detectors were activated by the bushfire haze, causing mayhem (no connection with Mayhem of the Norwegian black metal scene). The water in the bay here is distinctly murky. Swimming is not recommended. The iconic Shelly Beach is closed due to dangerous surf and storm water pollution.
It’s easy to forget events on the other side of the world, where a former stand-up comedian leads his country against a brutal enemy in a senseless and vicious war. Is the tide turning in Ukraine? One can only hope; if President Zelensky is captured he may never be seen again. If it drags on who is capable of brokering a ceasefire? Xi Jinping?