Headed South (The Outback Chronicles)

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The day involved a lot of standing and waiting for the scene to be shot, shot and re-shot. Supporting her son who is still too young to be on set by himself, Ms Pickering said she was also enjoying the unique experience of being an extra on a feature film. Mr Pickering said he hopes to look back on his experience of being an extra on Top End Wedding and be able to think this is where it all started. Top End Wedding filming crew and cast are expected to be in Katherine until Wednesday, said one of the production crews, with more scenes still to be shot.

Near the Brachina Gorge, among some tumble-down rocks at the side of the road, we spot a yellow-footed rock wallaby joey and his stripey-tailed mother sitting in the sunshine. This is my favorite thing about the Flinders, you never know when you'll see an emu crossing the road presumably to get to the other side , or a flock of green parrots, or a roo leaping along with your car. We drive along gravel roads, past rocks that a sign informs us are million years old take that , creationists , eventually winding up in the town of Parachilna, population 5, and home to the Prairie Hotel.

Owned by Ross and Jane Fargher , the Prairie is famous for its feral feast, although Jane tells us, "We're not sourcing the camel today. Chris and I sit in the bar beneath a snarling dingo head and share the feral appetizer, which includes a fabulous emu pate, followed by a succulent emu burger and some roo. The next day we head for the most luxe of all the Flinders accommodations, Arkaba Station. Arkaba started life as a working sheep station, but after being bought by Bush Luxury, it's been reincarnated as the most rustically posh property I've ever stayed at.

There are only five rooms, all within the homestead, so the feeling is like being a pampered guest in someone's home - a really pampered guest. Brendan, the on-site, on-call activities director, takes us on a hike to Arkaba's wool shed, a stone building built in and still used during shearing season. Inside, there's the oily smell of lanolin and big piles of sheared wool that look like deflated sheep. When we stand still, we can hear the squeaking of the bats in the wooden rafters over our heads.

On the hike back, we walk past the crumbling stone farmhouse of an abandoned homestead. In the late s and early s Australian homesteaders came to the Flinders to try and grow wheat, though nearly all of them failed, because there was seldom enough rain. Brendan takes us around back to look at a small graveyard. We stand in the sun with the creaking of the homestead's slowly turning windmill in our ears, and stare at the headstone of the year-old farm wife.

Next to it is the grave of her husband, who, as Brendan puts it, "helped himself into the ground five years later. That evening, our dinner - locally raised beef, fresh produce driven up from Adelaide - is cooked by Arkaba's on-site chef, and served on the homestead's big wooden dining table.

We eat with Pat and Sally Kent, owners of Arkaba Station, and then settle onto a sofa in the library in front of a fire, and help ourselves to a snifter of cognac from the complimentary bar. It's a long way from a tent in the woods, and a big departure from Flinders tradition.

Upgrading the Outback around Flinders Ranges - SFGate

But this is Australia after all, where breaking tradition is part of the national character. Fly from Sydney to Adelaide, then drive north you'll want a car in the Flinders.


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It takes two to five hours to get there, depending on where you're staying. Property has restaurant. Arkaba Station: 15 miles north of Hawker, , arkabastation. Dinner bookings are essential. Open for dinner seven days a week all year. Over the Edge: 6 Stuart St. Time it right, and you'll catch one of the many mountain bike events that are held in Melrose. Check the website for info. As the water continued to rise that afternoon, I ducked into my car in the garage and took a call from an editor at the paper, asking me to get to work ASAP on a weekend enterprise story encapsulating the storm's destruction.

Once the water receded a bit the next morning Tuesday , we loaded our kids into the van and evacuated to a photographer's house, closer to the newspaper office, so I could get to work on that story. Some staff members spared the first day of the storm later found their neighborhoods inundated, like Monica Rhor, a veteran investigative and narrative reporter in Kingwood.

But I had it good. So many of our neighbors lost homes, lost treasured belongings, lost peace of mind. Half of Kingwood, the serene suburb where my family lives, suffered severe flooding. Streets were like rivers. Cars were underwater. Businesses destroyed. So many of my daughters' friends and classmates had to be rescued from their homes by boat and came back to a house in ruins.

What I will most remember: the frail elderly people leaning on walkers and in wheelchairs who were evacuated from a senior living residence and shuttled to a shelter, the parents clutching their wet and shivering children as they alighted from rescue boats, the pet owners holding tight to their drenched dogs and cats, the stunned expressions of evacuees sitting at a makeshift shelter at a school.

The faces of loss, grief and fear.


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  • The dozens of volunteers who turned out in canoes, kayaks, airboats and motorboats to rescue strangers, drop clothes, food and supplies at shelters, pull rotting drywall and moldy carpets out of neighbors' homes. The faces of compassion. This is not the first time I've covered a disaster. I was here for Ike. I've covered mass fires, storms and blizzards. But this was my first as a mother. I was terrified for my children — and every distraught parent, every crying child, every lost pet, every pile of shredded and sodden furniture, toys and memories reminds me how deceptive a sense of a security is and how easily our world can be upended.

    Alyson Ward tells an amazing story of being rescued from her apartment off Cypress Creek along with her boyfriend, Terrence, and their blue betta fish, Grover, in a Mason jar. With a car full of floodwater, she set out on foot, interviewing neighbors. Education reporter Shelby Webb was still recovering from a broken leg when Harvey hit. She wrote this:. The storm hit about five months after I snapped my right thigh bone in half, an injury that required a two-hour emergency surgery, 12 metal screws and a two-foot-long titanium rod to fix.

    It took two months of physical therapy before I could stand on two legs, another month to transition from a walker to crutches and another month to pare down to a single crutch. But as floodwaters rose across Houston neighborhoods and in the Chronicle's parking lot, I ditched my crutch, which acted more like a bag of bricks than a walking device as I tried to drag it through rising the waters. Instead, I opted to limp through roads that had suddenly turned into creeks and parking lots that had become wading pools.

    Ditching the crutch and wading through floodwaters was not part of my original Hurricane Harvey coverage plan. When I reported to the office the afternoon of Aug. That was before nearly 20 inches of rain dropped in parts of the region over 12 hours, trapping people in suddenly water-logged homes and washing over large swaths of Houston's freeways. I ended up staying until about a.

    (Another) wedding takes centre stage in outback NT

    Sunday, leaving to move my electronics to higher spots in my apartment, and trying to drive back to work around 7 a. In the two and a half hours it took me to pack up some snacks for my coworkers and a go-bag for myself, the roads I had taken to get home had suddenly become impassable. My minute commute to work soon turned into a two-hour ordeal, as every road I came across seemed to become a pool.

    I cried when I finally parked my car at our building near the loop and Highway 59, grateful it had not drowned but kicking myself for being so incredibly stupid. On Monday, after touring some of the damage with a friend in a lifted truck, I hitched a ride with an out-of-town reporter to Briar Forest Drive in the Memorial area.

    We had parked about a mile south of Buffalo Bayou, but water lapped the road 20 feet away from our car. Closer to the bayou, the waters covered cars and turned Briar Forest into a quickly flowing river. In keeping with my penchant for making bad decisions — I made another by leaving my crutch in the car and hobbling into the brown, flowing waters.

    I limped hunchback-style to a large tree that had fallen over on its side and somehow climbed on it and out of the water. I could see two men wading through shoulder-deep water towards us, one of whom thought swimming would get him to dry land faster than trudging. As I yelled, a Humvee pulled into the middle of the newly created creek. I had been trying to cover water rescues all day, and this looked like my chance. I began waving my arms, pleading with the four Nepalese immigrants inside to pick me up so I could come with them as they plucked strangers from their flooded homes.

    They pulled up about 15 feet away from where I stood on the felled tree, and one of the men got out and outstretched his hand. I nearly tripped on the curb as I limped over to the rescuer, grabbing his forearm with my left hand before reaching for another reporter's arm with my right. At its deepest, the water was just below my chest. Our three-person human chain was soon pulled into the Humvee, where I sat and watched the four strangers devise plans to rescue others. We sat with them for about 30 minutes before finding other rescuers, including year-old Mustafa Herby, who was profiled by Mike Hixenbaugh in the Chronicle's "51 Inches" feature.

    The rest of that week seems like a blur. I know I slept over at the Office of Emergency Management one night. I might have signed up to adopt a comfort dog. But one other moment sticks out. After getting what seemed to be a promising news tip, I ran for the first time since I broke my leg in April.

    A few seconds later, they broke into applause. Hopefully, it was the first of many runs to come. Let's just hope the future runs aren't through waist-deep floodwaters. Lydia DePillis , economics reporter, thought her story was not at all remarkable, though some could argue otherwise:. So, I tromped back outside and drove my tiny hatchback slowly and carefully over the puddles, as far as I could get before running into deeper water.

    From there, I jogged to rain-swollen Brays Bayou, where guys in boats were still pulling people to safety. Then another mile on foot to go check out a report of looting the store looked fine. Then I hopped in Mark Mulligan's car, where he was drying out his cameras on the dashboard, to go into Meyerland proper, wading through waist-high water to collect stories of people who'd elevated their homes after the last flood and made it through OK, and stories of those who didn't have the money, and flooded up to their light switches.

    Lending Tree

    Eventually, Mark dropped me off at my car and gave me a muffin, for strength. From there, unsure of where to go in the still-driving rain, I ended up at a busy shelter in Bellaire and start typing away at a story on my phone, shivering now in my wet clothes.

    After filing, I filtered through the shelter talking to people who'd landed there after escaping their wet homes before being sent on to George R. The family of five that hadn't eaten in two days because they couldn't afford to stock up before the storm. The old lady with a bad back who was up to her elbows in water before rescuers finally came by and pulled her out.

    The kindly youth minister who puttered around offering people sausage rolls. Finally, I left, exhausted, headed to a dry home, and not knowing what I did to deserve it. Our downstairs neighbors evacuated to Dallas, and I finally feel like I became a true Gulf Coast resident when I spent a chunk of Saturday fortifying their place with sandbags, after spying another neighbor's carpet ripped up and soggy in an exterior hallway. I could only leave our complex on foot for days, and spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday wading out in the deep water to find people to talk to.

    I saw jetski rescues and walked through homes that had taken on feet of water. On Tuesday evening, I was able to climb along an iron fence on the northern border of Spotts Park for several hundred yards, which made it possible to get a little further from my home without worrying about the sweeping currents rushing down Buffalo Bayou. I kept thinking that shimmying along the fence was the stupidest thing I've ever done, but I took my time and used patience and was able to maneuver without slipping. Finally across, I spotted the Waugh Bridge, now clear of water, and figured out a safe route to get to work on Wednesday.

    The thing that sticks with me is the current of the bayou. It was moving so fast in the deepest parts that I knew it could knock you over in an instant. I tried my best to stay on the edge as often as possible, and it struck me that it had waves, like an ocean on the beach, rising up the streets. When I looked at the dirt on the bottom of the new lake on Allen Parkway, it looked like ocean sand, with all the ridges that come from moving with the tides.

    Jennifer Bolton, an HCN reporter, told this insane story of being rescued , along with her husband and two dogs, from their flooded neighborhood in Dickinson. Photographers are always on the front lines and have amazing stories, including this one, by Steven Gonzales, a senior staff photographer:. I had arranged to ride along with Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and thought I would be riding inside a vehicle and not in the bed of a rescue truck.

    The only front seats were taken, so the remaining seats were in the bed. It was the second day of constant rain to hit the Houston area, and many of us started to feel as if we would never see the sun again. As we headed for the truck, rain bombs the size of nickels pelted the yellow poncho that covered my rain jacket, waders and cameras wrapped in plastic bags.

    Two other deputies and Toquica joined me in the back, so I didn't think it would that bad. After a quick stop at the George R. Brown we were informed that there was a great need for rescues north of IAH. We began the trek being beaten by the relentless rain the entire way. The deputies and I huddled together in a futile attempt to keep a part of our bodies dry.

    The rain felt like bee stings as it hit exposed skin. At some point along the way, I noticed the side of my hand, which I had used to hold my rain hood secure, was bleeding from being exposed to the elements. King we found a long line of boats on trailers waiting to aid in rescue efforts.

    After maneuvering through the line of first responders, our truck drove into water that was over its wheels. First responders on rescue boats informed us that there were hundreds of people hunkered under a bridge needing help to get out of the floodwaters.

    Word position

    As we drove the wrong way through the flooded feeder road, one of deputies yelled, 'Oh my God, look over there! The truck came to a stop. At the same time the passenger-side door flew up, and I heard a splash.

    I looked over the railing and saw Sherriff Gonzalez jumping into and moving fast through high water to a girl who lost her footing. A man she was with had been struggling with two dogs, one that pulled out of its collar, and he lost sight of the young girl. Gonzalez came to her rescue, lifted her out of the water and rushed her to safety. I made a few frames of the rescue, but soon found out that my cameras were starting to suffer from the effects of being in the elements.

    I could only make two or three images at a time before the camera locked up with an error. We continued to rescue families, babies, the elderly and wheelchair-bound individuals. I had to attempt of dry my cameras and shoot one or two frames at a time. On several rescues, I put down my failing cameras to jump into the water to lift wheelchairs, pets and helped those in need. The faces of theses victims still haunt me.

    They left with only the clothes on their backs, with no idea where they were going. The children crying and scared, the elderly confused why they were wet and cold, many missing their shoes, having to be rushed away in the back of a military truck. Now, I close my eyes and see their scared, shocked and blank stares. I wonder where they are now.

    How the Houston Chronicle covered Harvey

    Are they ever going to come back to their homes or just walk away? The small cut on my hand and the malfunctioning cameras that can be replaced seem so petty to have worried about when these people had to go through what they did. I admire the first responders and the Harris County Sheriff and his deputies. They all did an amazing job in a very difficult situation. I picked up John McClain, who always flies to games, and drove there. The airport was already canceling flights. It was challenging being out of town when the hurricane was moving toward Houston and feeling that I should be available to cover it.

    Watching CNN and the Weather Channel made it even worse, because it was the same apocalyptic report over and over. I stayed in contact with my family at home, and they were telling me all was well, so that was good.

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    I left New Orleans just before 6 a. Sunday to get back to Houston to help cover the storm. I didn't hit heavy rain until just past Orange.