Bend it like Yasi

Jacko and Des Barr have per­ma­nent re­minders of the night Cy­clone Yasi struck

Townsville Bulletin - - NQ Life - By Ian Frazer

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.’’

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