A couple of weeks ago I mentioned how we were all watching and waiting for our much needed wet season rain. The average annual rainfall for Broome is around 500mm and we receive that rainfall over a few months in the summer, which is right now. Last year we only received 338mm for the whole year, so we were hoping for a good bit of rain sooner or later. Some of the local ephemeral lakes completely dried up and others almost did before the rain came.

When the real rain first arrived on 31st January it was torrential and in a matter of hours we received 238mm of rain. Broome did flood in some areas and the highways were soon closed. This is just what the land needed. However, that was not all that the tropical system had in store for us! The following day we had more rain and then some! Not only was the rain torrential, but it was accompanied by thunder and lightning. Apparently there were 80,000 lightning strikes in a 24 hour period and 30,000 of those were cloud to ground. We stayed indoors for obvious reasons! In one hour in the evening, amongst all the thunder and lightning, 88mm of rain fell and by the morning we had received 326mm of rain. So, over a 48 hour period we had received 564mm of rain as compared to 338mm for the whole of 2021. A local cattle station out of town received 652mm in the same 24 hour period, so we got off lightly!

We have not seen the end of the rain yet, but for now the land is soaking it up. It is a slow process sorting out the flood damage. Thankfully we only had a very wet garden and a few native plants have had to be supported in an upright position until the ground dries. The header photo is some of the torrential rain coming off our roof. We don’t have gutters in Broome, because they could not cope with this sort of rain!

Back garden starting to flood

Street starting to flood-four-wheel drive required!

On 2nd February we walked around our local bike path to see the damage from the 564mm in two days. The erosion is severe in many areas and of course we now have some health warnings! There is a lot of debris left behind on the bridges and wash-outs underneath. A huge area of Shire sand and gravel deposits ended up across the bike path and beyond.

Erosion under the bike path and bridge

Debris caught on the bridge

Sand across the bike path

The warnings!

Of course all of the muddy water is already full of tadpoles and therefore the birds are moving in. The water will eventually drain away and it is controlled so that it flows out into Roebuck Bay slowly. Meanwhile the birds will make the most of the tadpoles and the large number of grasshoppers that are currently about.


White Ibis and Little Egrets

The White Ibis do not appear to be able to keep clean in this weather! The Little Egrets are beautifully white and you will note that one has started to get its breeding plumage.

Little Egrets

All of the local vegetation appears to be growing faster than ever. I have had to mow twice in a week in between rain events! It means there are plenty of seeds for the local birds to feast on including the brightly coloured Red-winged Parrot.

Red-winged Parrot feeding on seeds

Walking around the local parks after these big events is interesting to see the birds all clearly trying to dry out. Thankfully it is not cold and they are obviously resilient to this sort of extreme weather. We are now expecting many more birds to arrive in the Broome area to breed as they have after other wet events. No doubt we do have more rain in store before the end of our wet season, but for now we have had a good top up! For some time now we will be staying on the bitumen (if the highway is open) or wading where appropriate!

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!