La sécheresse and Mount Isa…

We have had hardly any rain here ~5mm in the last month. Which led me to…

I lived here, Mount Isa, as child, so I am part desert creature.

Bottom left are the tailings dams, to the top is lake Moondarra which made lawns possible and enabled the mine to function.

When we arrived we lived briefly in Sulphide street in Mines accomodation but soon moved to Moore Crescent. The creek at the back of our garden runs left to right and as a six year old my friends and I would follow it up into the burned red hills to the right of the image. We would bring back dried snake skins to freak our mothers out. The houses were on stilts. When it rained the creek could fill in minutes. You can still see the concrete carport that my dad and his drunken buddies put up one afternoon in a race against the heat, on Google street view.

This is the Leichhardt River in December. Not much water…This is now a raised ford. When we were kids and IF there was any water we would hang onto car bumpers and get a ride in the water as the cars crossed. When the river started to dry I would catch fish with my bare hands in the drying pools. Some of the fish lived in the dirt when the river was dry and would surface along with the water snakes in the rains.

This is our third house in Opal Street. The straight green line heading towards the bottom right hand corner is the creek at the back of our house. We used to follow this down to the Leichhardt River on the right of the image. The train line to Mica Creek is the straight line which runs top to bottom. It really was that red!! We lived on the edge of the bush.

This Happy Valley school. I fell unconcious several times in the heat playing cricket on the wicket to the right of the green patch. Top left hand corner there are two neat patches of grass between buildings. This is where we used to hold school assemblies and where I swore alleigance to the Australian flag.

This is where I used to train for swimming initially under the auspices of Bill Sweetenham. I would sometimes train three times a day, before school, lunchtime and after school. Under the age of nine I was already swimming miles. I used to eat a lot of food!!

Bill Sweetenham

William Sweetenham AM (born 23 March 1950) is an elite swimming coach. He has coached swimming teams of Australia, Britain, Hong Kong and the Argentina national swimming team. During his career, Sweetenham was Head National Team Coach at five Olympic Games, coached 27 medalists at the Olympic Games and World Championships, and nine world record holders.


Sweetenham began his coaching career in his hometown of Mount Isa. He then replaced Laurie Lawrence at the Carina Swimming Club in Brisbane, Queensland. Whilst at the club he coached three of the greatest distance swimmers – Stephen Holland, Tracey Wickham and Michelle Ford. Sweetenham then became the first Queensland Director of Coaching. In 1980, Sweetenham was appointed inaugural Women’s Head Swimming Coach at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). From late 1985 to 1991, he was Head Coach. During his time at the AIS, Sweetenham was involved in coaching Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallists – Michelle Pearson, Karen Phillips, Suzanne Landells, Georgina Parkes and Rob Woodhouse. In 1983, whilst at the AIS, he suffered serious leg injuries as a result of a car accident in West Germany. From 1995 to 2001, he was the National Youth Coach for Swimming Australia and during this period the programme produced a number of future Australian national team members including Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett. He managed the Australian swim team for four Olympic Games and five Commonwealth Games. “

Mount Isa Rugby Union. We used to get to play by the river while my dad and his mates got things ready to transfer the clubhouse, bottom right of the pitch. I was there the day that they shipped the club house by truck in one piece onto the foundations! I seemed to remember a bit of a party…

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