Bend it like Yasi
Jacko and Des Barr have permanent reminders of the night Cyclone Yasi struck
IT’S the absence of certain green giants, not the row of bent indian mast trees, that reminds Jacko Barr most of the cyclone.
The three tilted trees seem frozen in a moment from their brush with Yasi seven weeks ago, when Mrs Barr saw them twirling like demented ballerinas.
‘‘ They are all right – they have gone right down and they will come back up,’’ she said during a t our of her big backyard at Rupertswood last week.
Christened Jacque line but known everywhere as Jacko, she and her husband Des Barr began planting trees on their 0.8ha block in 1987, soon after moving from their grazing property in the Hughenden district.
She obtained the Indian mast tree seedlings in 2000, impressed by fast-growing specimens trialled by Townsville City Council in Queens Rd, Hermit Park.
By then the spacious house which they built in 1987 was already well shaded by three spreading cassia trees.
These yellow and pink-flowering natives of southern Asia, also known as golden shower trees, encircled the house with generous, sun-diffusing foliage – until the cyclone arrived.
The next morning all three lay on their sides, massive shallow roots exposed.
The three-trunked giant behind their home keeled over as Jacko watched, l uckily missing al l breakables. ‘‘ It came slowly down,’’ she said. ‘‘ Three great big trunks . . . swish, boomp. I thought, Oh Jeez, what else will happen.
‘‘ I did not go to sleep that night, I did not like the look of it.’’
Earlier she and Des had declined an invitation from their daughter Lisa Palmer to shelter with her in Charters Towers, clear of anything Yasi might hurl at the coast.
‘‘ She wanted us to go there for safety, but we said, ‘ what’s the point, if anything goes wrong here we’ll be stuck with you’.
‘‘ We are experts in traumas
– we’ve been through many – and we could not see that our house would be blown away. ‘‘ It was strongly built.’’ While mourning their cassias, each of them dismembered and chipped before NQ Life’s visit, the Barrs were grateful that 90 per cent of their park survived.
Among the unscathed trees were ironbarks and Moreton Bay ash which clustered along the banks of Alice River and German Creek long before developers created Rupertswood. They lost only four ironbarks. Des feels some introduced species such as bauhinias and the controversial African mahogany survived because other trees protected them from the wind.
He said he had rescued two weeping rosewood trees blown sideways, but not out of the water- logged ground, simply by pushing them back up straight.
‘‘ Yasi was roaring up high at 200km/ h but Rupertswood is a bigtree area and a kind of windbreak,’’ he said.
Jacko, 72, says it is far too early to consider any replanting.
She is waiting for a change in the season, and dry ground.
She feels lucky compared to the victims of other natural disasters
The three tilted trees seem frozen in a moment from their brush with Yasi seven weeks ago, when Mrs Barr saw them twirling like demented ballerinas
since Christmas. ‘‘ I feel sorry for the people of Cardwell,’’ she said. ‘‘ We have nothing to worry about compared to them.’’
Having spent most of her life in western Queensland, she is philosophical about the ebb and flow of the natural world.
‘‘ We used to look forward to good seasons, not the droughts. But we learnt that you don’t fight the land, if you try it will beat you.’’