At one stage of my career I was hosting and teaching Japanese students, who were here to experience for a couple of weeks, Australian life; to learn a bit about Australia and practice their conversational English. The thing I remember from those early visits, was what appeared to be an ingrained resentment, especially by some of the older male students, about how big Australia was and how much land per capita we had, compared to Japan. This statistic he had learned, would have appeared to be an unbelievable amount of space compared to what the young man had experienced in his own overcrowded country. However, what he did not appreciate, was that this statistic did not explain that most of Australia’s huge land mass, is made up of desert! Largely not arable and more often than not in drought! Fast forward to today and NSW and most of Queensland are once again in the grip of one of the worst drought conditions we have experienced for a very long time. Thankfully, Australian’s, being the big-hearted, kind people that we are, have rallied from the vast coast land cities of Australia, to raise money to buy food for livestock and also the farming families. But I have been asking myself, does it always have to be like this? Being a creative out of the square thinker, I tried to look at the situation of drought from a preventative, rather than a reactive position. I wanted to see if I could come up with some ideas for things that we could do, so livestock and farmers don’t have to face, with ridiculous regularity, the same heartbreaking reliance on rain for their survival. As a country that is primarily made up of desert, I cannot understand why, with all the fabulous Scientists, and smart innovative Australians; that we have never pooled this intelligence to come up with a plan to be able to cultivate the desert, so it could become not only livable, but also sustainable. A large part of achieving this, would involve the full utilisation of our existing water supply. It occurred to me that something Parliament could do, (rather than pledging money which will run out almost as quickly as it is distributed to the farmers who have been living with drought for over a decade or more), is to come up with some serious financial support for our Scientists. Shouldn't we instead devote some serious financial support to help them to discover, how we can establish communities that can live, survive and thrive in the vast deserts of Australia? Imagine what an export market we would have to all the countries of Africa, the middle East and America, for our intellectual property, if we could manage such a thing? So important would this research be, that it could indeed be a whole new industry we could establish and become world experts in. This would provide employment for scientists, builders, horticulturalist and our youth (to name but a few); providing much needed employment for our aging society, in a world where people are either under employed or will be increasingly made redundant, through AI doing our jobs. It may also help stop overcrowding in our cities, by opening up other parts of Australia for communities to emerge. However more immediately, it would be helpful if we could make some sort of effort to harness and collect the water we do get now! Every year we have cyclones in the Northern parts of Australia, which dumps huge amounts of water on their long suffering residents. All of this water floods and damages the areas hit, and then runs just as quickly back out to sea. It usually fills the dams until they are overflowing into the surrounding rivers, causing huge damage as each subsequent river floods the towns downstream. From my completely layperson approach, I wonder why we could not run those huge open drain pipes that we used to have back in the 70’s and 80’s which could divert water out of the overflowing dams in North Queensland and redirect the water inland, towards the towns desperate for water? No longer would the water run wastefully back into the sea, but rather it could be directed towards dams which we would need to build inland, where they are most needed. Why could we not have have pipes situated along those rivers which regularly flood, which could be opened to divert some of the torrents of water side wards, away from the river and out into a series of dams we have built? We would no longer be reliant on cloudless skies to provide the much needed water, but instead just divert water from the areas where it does the most damage, to the areas which need it the most. This is not exactly rocket science, which makes me wonder why our esteemed politicians have never thought of it themselves? Even the Ancient Roman’s managed to use aqueducts which you can still see over much of Italy and Europe, to transport water to where it was needed the most. So what is stopping us from doing something similar? If they can run pipelines all over the world and through the oceans to move gas and oil around the globe, then how hard would it be to do the same with water?

Perhaps us Wonderous Women should start a petition, or at the very least talk to or forward this blog onto your local politician, and ask them if they could bring this idea up in Parliament both State and Federal. Perhaps one of them might see the potential to be the ‘one’ who saves Australia from the droughts and flooding rains, that have been acknowledged since the days of Dorothy McKeller in her famous Australian poem I ‘I love a sunburnt country’.

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