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From the depth of despair

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

Heavens! Today I was planning to share news of me celebrating another revolution around the sun, first with a delicious lunch with my family at Chin Chin in Surry Hills, a staycation across the street at the quirky and sensuous Paramount Hotel, and after an early morning flight, landing in paradise with my significant other for a wonderful vacation at the Arajilla Retreat on the pristine and natural wonderment that is Lord Howe Island. It was such a beautiful chain of events, however with so much happening in the world since I last penned a newsletter just a few short weeks ago, to write about this seems somewhat frivolous and unimportant. From the unhinged and impalpable evils of the egotistical despot in Russia, invading Ukraine, causing many lives to be lost and hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes and seek refuge, to the catastrophic floods that have wreaked havoc on the lives of so many people throughout Queensland and Northern NSW, from afar it is hard not to feel helpless. These are sad and frightening times and a real kick in the guts for many that have already suffered so much in recent years.

Whilst my thoughts go out to all the people who have been impacted by these terrible events and are suffering right now, the unbelievable and widespread flooding that has occurred in and around the township of Lismore has really left me speechless and broken my heart. Lismore is my home town, the town where I grew up and to see the streets become unrecognisable as the river rose like a tsunami and turned the town into a lake has left me shell shocked. Whilst it is not uncommon for Lismore, which is situated in a sub tropical climate zone to experience flooding in the latter part of summer, never in its history has Lismore experienced flooding of this magnitude. Homes and businesses well beyond the reach of even the biggest floods were inundated with water and the damage was immense. It was simply too hard to comprehend, and then, I received this first hand account relaying the story of my niece who has never lived in the ‘flood zone’.

It reads like this….

“The amount of rain we have had is unbelievable. We had to leave our home last night and went to the mound and shed behind our house where we keep our van and boat. The water was just coming up the stairs into our house way too quickly so we had to leave. We stayed in the van for a bit to rest for about an hour and a half. Then when the water from the river started to come into the shed, we tied our boat to the front of the shed and the whole family (4 children and mum and dad) and our three dogs stayed in the boat all night from 11pm ‘till 6.30am this morning. The water came up about 1.5 metres into the shed and also about 1 metre into our house upstairs, so at the moment all our vehicles are under water and we were lucky to get out of the house with a small bag of clothes each that I had ready in case we had to leave quickly. We are now safe at A’s parents place. All we can do now is wait for the water to go down to see if we can save anything, although it is not looking good. This is the biggest flood in the Northern Rivers history. No one predicted that it would come up that high ever! But at least we are safe and well. A has gone back out in the boat to help rescue everyone on their roof nearby. It is very devastating for everyone around here as we have, and a lot of other people in the area have lost everything. At least we still have each other, everything else we can rebuild over time”.

I feel sure this heartbreaking story of loss is being retold by so many families in the Lismore area, some who have not only lost their homes but their businesses and livelihoods as well. There are simply no words. At the time of writing my niece had not been able to return home to survey the damage as the property was still surrounded by water. I can’t imagine how terrifying this was for her family, and how broken she must feel, and I don’t know what to do to help, but the one thing I can be sure of is that to show a little humility and kindness to those around you will go a long way towards healing. The importance of community can never be underestimated and it is this sense of community banding together that will help raise people from the pits of despair that they have endured, and in time, to recover. The people of Lismore in times of need are just wonderful, however it will take years for the township to ever resemble the vibrant community it was before.

The Bruxner Highway in Lismore becomes a river as small boats rally to rescue people that are trapped, 2022 floods.

In the meantime if you feel in need of something a little more uplifting to cheer you up here are a few snippets of my holiday on Lord Howe Island.

The turquoise waters of Ned’s Beach, which is abundant with fish and marine life, came into view as I rounded the corner on my push bike.

View of the lagoon out to Rabbit Island and Mt Gower hiding up in the clouds. This picture was taken from my favourite bench seat where I loved to sit and ponder.

Old Settlement Beach, the best location for a picnic and to snorkel and see

turtles at high tide.

If you love food as much as I do, you might enjoy listening to this new fortnightly podcast from one of my favourite Instagram accounts @straight_to_the_source where Tawnya Bahr and Lucy Allon will connect you with some of Australia’s most dynamic food business leaders.

And some recipes saved from the Interweb you might consider making if all this wet weather is sending you inside to cook.

An upside down tomato pissaladerie @aliceinframes

Lebanese Mujaddarat (onion and lentil rice) @sbsfood

Lemon Miso Risotto @platesandpoppy

Rhubarb Strawberry Polenta Traybake @cookrepublic

Buttermilk Biscuits @thekitchn

Fig and Almond Pies @donnahaymagazine.

In other news my hydrangea cuttings are flourishing in all this Sydney rain. If you would like to learn more about hydrangeas, all the different varieties and why some change colours and others don’t, you can listen to this episode of the Muddy Boots podcast here.

Until next time may your days be both serendipitous and enjoyable.


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