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The weird process of waiting, waiting, waiting for an inevitable flood...

Anthony Sharwood, Wednesday April 7, 2021 - 15:02 EST

This is the Barwon River at Brewarrina in outback New South Wales, one of the major tributaries of the mighty Darling River.

The picture is one of many excellent images of the river and surrounds taken recently by photographer and journalist Lara Taylor. There are loads more here on her blog.

Image: The Barwon at Brewarrina in early April, 2021. Image: Lara Taylor.

Taylor lived in the same Sydney suburb for 26 years before boradening her horizons - literally - and relocating to the northwest NSW town whose population was 1143 at the last census.

She arrived in town in November 2019 when the region was still in the grip of a terrible drought that was baking vast areas of eastern Australia.

"The riverbed was totally dry," she says.

Then one day in February 2020, Taylor was awoken by one of those feelings you just get sometimes.

"Something was telling me to get down to the river," she recalls. "So I got myself out of bed and went down there. There were a couple of indigenous blokes down there feeling the ground.

"I said, 'What's happening?' and they said, 'The water is coming' and I literally watched the river come. By the end of that day, it was a full-on river and kids were catching fish with their bare hands."

So here we are in 2021 and the river is full again. But this time, things are different. This time, there's a lot, lot more water in the catchment.

Image: All of this is headed down to Bre. Source: Lara Taylor.

Brewarrina's average annual rainfall is 402.2 mm. Already this year it has had 228.4 mm. But the water heading towards town is from elsewhere.

The image above is the flooded Namoi River at Walgett. The Namoi flows into the Barwon, from areas further east which have received extremely heavy rain in recent weeks.

The BoM issued a flood warning for the Barwon River today (Wednesday April 6) and announced that the Barwon River at Brewarrina is currently at 4.16m and rising.

"River levels at Brewarrina are likely to exceed the Minor flood level (6.40m) during Saturday 10th April. The river may reach the Moderate flood level (7.0m) towards the end of April," the BoM added. Warnings for the region are here.

The image below, courtesy of NASA Worldview, shows the floodwater (shown as large teal-blue pools) streaming westwards towards Brewarrina and other western NSW towns.

Image: If only the countryside was really this colour all the time. Source: NASA Worldview.

And so, Brewarrina waits. It's quite a weird situation. There's joy that the river is alive, but there's concern about what is coming. Lara Taylor say locals have faith in the town's levee banks. Above all, there is gratitude.

"There's a deep heartfelt joy. I'm relatively new in town, but people here have told me they've been waiting eight years for this. They're saying, 'This is what we need to rejuevnate the land, and that seems to override any fear of a flood.

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