Australia: land of drought and flooding rains

Australia’s poets remind us of the reality of living in this often harsh, uncompromising and unforgiving land of Australia. We live with extremes of weather.

My Country, written in 1908 by Dorothea MacKellar, places squarely before us the reality of both ‘drought and flooding rains’:

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of drought and flooding rains. 1

How do we cope with the stark reality of these extremes of weather?

Said Hanrahan by John O’Brien is one of my favourite poems:

‘We’ll all be rooned,’ said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.

While Hanrahan’s sentiment resonates in moments of melancholy and foreboding hardship, it more fundamentally resonates with my experience of living in this land of Australia.

This experience is clothed with pessimism, yet paradoxically it is undergirded by an optimism expressed in a wry, dry humour. Here’s a couple more verses but I’d recommend that you take time to read it all. 2

And so around the chorus ran
‘It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.’
‘We’ll all be rooned,’ said Hanrahan,
‘Before the year is out.’

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
‘We’ll all be rooned,’ said Hanrahan,
‘If this rain doesn’t stop.’

‘There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
‘There will, without a doubt;
We’ll all be rooned,’ said Hanrahan,
‘Before the year is out.’

And the Christ-follower is called to be here, in this land of harshness and need. This Christ-challenge is unflinchingly presented by Henry Lawson in The Christ of the Never. 3

With eyes that are narrowed to pierce
To the awful horizons of land,
Through the blaze of hot days,
and the fierce
White heat-waves that flow on
the sand;
Through the Never Land westward and nor’ward,
Bronzed, bearded, and gaunt
on the track,
Low-voiced and hard-knuckled,
rides forward
The Christ of the Outer Out-back.

Christ-followers in Colossae are called to be, ‘in Christ, in Colossae’ (the Apostle Paul’s challenge, Colossians 1:2);

Christ-followers in the Outer Out-back of Australia are called to be ‘The Christ of the Outer Out-back’; the ‘Christ of the Never’.

Christ-followers wherever they be in Australia are called to be ‘in Christ, in Australia’.

Now there’s a challenge, a Christ-challenge, no matter the weather!

With thanks to our poets and remember to financially support and pray for the victims of the recent Australian floods and cyclone and the Christchurch NZ earthquake. Go to the website for more details. 

 1. My Country
2. Said Hanrahan
3. The Christ of the Never

Written for the Tasmanian Anglican magazine, February 2011.

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