CYCLONE, DROUGHT, FLOOD, FIRE: LIFE LIVED IN THE EXTREME
Drought, flood, storm and fire define life in Australia, the driest inhabited continent on earth. Drought grips the nation regularly with some spells lasting over a decade, and in many areas, arid conditions brought about by low rainfall remain common. A country of great extremes, Australia is locked to the cycles of El Nino and La Nina, which bring alternating dry conditions and wet conditions to the east coast every few years.
Blazes fuelled by wind, dry bush and weather can consume everything in their path. And nowhere on Earth burns with quite the same ferocity and regularity as Australian bushfires – particularly during the sweltering summer months. But fire in Australia also brings life, stimulating new plant growth – it is an intrinsic force in this ancient landscape. Indigenous peoples understand its dual nature better than anyone, harnessing its power for spiritual and environmental purposes.
Once a drought breaks, flood often follows. Cyclones born at sea hit land, then turn into rain bearing depressions. The average annual rainfall can fall in only a couple of days, and desert country that has been dry for years springs back to life – and explosion that continues as long as there is water.
Tropical Far North Queensland is a place like no other, with ancient rainforest growing down to the coast that touches the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Storms that burst upon Australia’s tropical east coast bring cyclonic winds and destruction. But these ecosystems have evolved over millions of years with storms, and life has learned to adapt – it’s a delicate interconnected web of life based around destruction and rebirth after cyclone activity.
This compelling four-part series explores the apocalyptic forces that nature visits on this ancient island and looks at how millions of years of evolution have uniquely prepared all Australian life for these dramatic and often devastating challenges.