We were back in the Netherlands once more and it felt wonderful to be with our daughter and son-in-law again!
It was only a short stay this time as finally we were able to return to Australia after an absence of two and half years due to Covid and the Australian Government’s “Fortress Australia” response.
There had been tens of thousands of people wishing to return from around the world during 2020 and 2021 but with a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine (paid for by the individuals concerned) and scarcely any flights scheduled, the majority of people were unable to get back. Friends who had tried to purchase flights during Covid had found them blisteringly expensive and they were invariably cancelled.
We were so thankful that at last, plenty of flights were going to Australia and we wouldn’t have to stay locked in a hotel room at vast expense for two weeks on arrival.
Before we left for our long awaited reunion with our son Ben and daughter-in-law Sarah and other family and friends, we had a lovely break in the Netherlands.
Despite the chilly weather the sky was blue most days and best of all, the early spring flowers were in bloom. We went on some lovely walks, had coffee and cake in cute cafes, caught up with Pieter’s parents and enjoyed delicious apple pie cooked by his Mum, and cleaned up the van before “putting her to bed” for a while.
We had been there only a few days when a terrific storm let rip causing all kinds of mayhem – sheets of metal ripped off the roof of a nearby football stadium, trees being uprooted, roof tiles being lifted and branches falling on people, cars and houses.
The wind came on quickly and before we could move the sturdy garden furniture the chairs were being tossed around the yard and we had to dash out to secure them safely.
A stroll round Pijnacker village the following day displayed the frightening force of the wind.
At Pieter’s parents commercial greenhouse several windows were blown in and there was shattered glass, bent frames and gaping holes in the roof.
In nearby Delft there were piles of roof tiles and other debris littering the pavement. Wild weather and very frightening for anyone caught outside!
Our time in the Netherlands slipped by very quickly and after a farewell meal at the local restaurant it was time to fly off to Brisbane, Australia.
We were very excited to be on our way at last although we were getting a little apprehensive about what the weather gods were going to throw us next! After deep snow in Cappadocia and cyclonic winds in The Netherlands, what was Australia going to produce weather wise?!
Before we even took off on the first leg to Singapore we started to get an inkling about what was ahead! Ben and Sarah told us that intense rain had been falling for the previous few days over a widespread area of SE Queensland and Northern New South Wales. On that day alone 175 ml (approx 6.9. inches) had fallen between midnight to 3pm!
We arrived in Singapore to hear that the rain was still coming down relentlessly. There was flooding too – including a creek near them that had risen so much it flooded the road they needed to take to get to the airport (the other way was flooded too!)
Later on, while we were waiting to board our flight bound for Brisbane, Ben let us know that the main route to the airport from the Western suburbs was flooded over, so even if they could have got through the local flooding they still couldn’t have reached the airport.
There was still a back up plan – our lovely niece who lived on the “right”side of the flooding had offered to come and meet us.
We took off from Singapore hoping against hope that the floodwaters would have receded by the time we arrived in Brisbane. After all, we had waited for the moment when we would fall into the arms of Ben and Sarah at Brisbane airport for more than two long years!
Sadly, when we landed at Brisbane we received the grim news that not only Ben and Sarah were unable to meet us but our niece was also stuck as the road she lived on was threatening to flood too!
Fortunately for us, Ben and Sarah had the presence of mind to organise a hotel near the airport for us to stay in until the flood waters had receded. Who would have believed that after two and a half years wait we would end up in a hotel – effectively in quarantine! We sincerely hoped it wouldn’t be for two weeks!
The rain just kept coming and that evening Jonathan got absolutely drenched (despite borrowing a massive umbrella from the hotel) when he ran to buy takeaways from the Italian restaurant that was almost next door!
The following day the rain let up for a little bit and we began to hope that the flooding would recede. However, Brisbane’s water catchment dams were so full that the water authorities were compelled to release huge quantities of water to avoid the dams breaking their banks. Naturally this combined with the extreme quantities of rainwater that had fallen, meant the Brisbane River and was even more unruly and dangerous.
Fortunately, by the second afternoon we heard that our niece and her children would be able to come and visit us after all as the flooding near them hadn’t become worse and they were still able to get out of their road!
It was so wonderful to see them after such a long time! We all went for a walk down to the nearby Brisbane River. It’s usual, rather easy going, flow had turned into a raging torrent with all sorts of debris floating down towards the sea – pieces of wharf, jet skis, and all sorts of building materials.
Our niece very kindly offered to collect us the following day and take us to her place while we waited for the roads to Ben and Sarah’s to be passable again.
Finally we would be on our way to start our visit to Brisbane properly! Thank goodness our hotel “quarantine “ was two days and not two weeks!